Review Blog

May 29 2019

Diary of an awesome friendly kid: Rowley Jefferson's journal by Jeff Kinney

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Puffin Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781760892517. 217p.
(Age: 9+) Recommended. Rowley Jefferson, the Wimpy Kid's sidekick, narrates this first book in the Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid spin-off series, showing us another side to Greg, aka Wimpy Kid. In Rowley Jefferson's Journal, Greg does not react well to sharing the limelight with Rowley. Almost immediately, he badgers Rowley to become his biographer because Wimpy Kid doesn't have any biographies - only autobiographies! Rowley agrees, 'After all, one day Greg will be rich and famous, and everyone will want to know his life's story.' But Rowley isn't a good choice because he selects events that show that his friendship with Greg is largely one-sided, resulting in Rowley being manipulated by his mate for his own gain or amusement. It is a relationship perhaps peculiar to Rowley but nonetheless the author has crafted a friendship dialectic that demonstrates the unique experience and perception of someone, which perhaps others don't or cannot share.
Wimpy Kid and Rowley have certainly matured with this new perspective on their childhood. The Wimpy Kid series is lauded as one of the most widespread first chapter book series for boys. The themes of friendship and character development are relevant to middle school conflicts and thus fertile affective material for educators in addition to deconstructing the genre. Thanks to Rowley, middle school readers will be finding out a lot sooner than most kids, that things (and people) are not always what they seem.
Visit the website to sample this amusing dark spin-off. Doubtless, this fresh illustrated novel, sprinkled with more typical childhood misfortunes, is sure to be another blockbuster for creator, Jeff Kinney.
Deborah Robins

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