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diary of a wimpy kid
By jeff kinney
Puffin Books,
Rs 195

Jeff Kinney’s book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, is refreshing not just because it chronicles the life of a middle-school kid who’s painfully honest, but also because it’s a novel in cartoons.

The book is the first in a series of three. Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules and Diary of a Wimpy Kid 3: the Last Straw will follow soon, the author assures us. This book revolves around seven characters — Greg Heffley, the “wimpy kid”, his elder brother Rodrick, his kid brother Manny, his parents, his best friend Rowley Jefferson and his weird neighbour Fregley.

Greg battles the usual growing-up troubles from “being careful” about his image to trying to be the most popular boy in school. He plays the games that kids make up in school, like the “cheese touch”, where a slice of stale cheese is left lying on the school grounds. Touching it would mean that you become an outcast for a whole year unless of course you find somebody else to pass the “touch” on to.

The book is a “journal” — or so Greg insists. It will not “be all Dear Diary this and Dear Diary that.” However, as you progress through the book, you discover that Greg does end up confiding some of his feelings in his diary, making for interesting reading.

There are instances he cites from everyday life which most of us can relate to. For instance, he occupies the last bench in class during the geography quiz because there’s a map on the wall at the back of the class. But the nerd in the class stands up just in time to remind the teacher about the map. So it’s all covered up and all Greg’s plans go astray.

The teachers are stereotypical, and so are the class bullies, wrestling and beating each other up in the locker rooms. The language is conversational and flows freely. And though the is book set in an alien milieu peopled by popcorn-loving, Haloween-celebrating kids, you enjoy it as much as you would one of those eternal Enid Blyton school books.

The friendship between Greg and Rowley is endearing too. Rowley is a nerdy kid and Greg takes him under his wing. In fact, he acts as his mentor. But he also bullies Rowley into becoming his partner-in-crime in all the pranks he pulls on others. Still, he shows rare integrity of character towards the end when Rowley is in trouble. I would like to tell you more, but that would give the story away. And frankly, that would be such a spoiler.

The USP of a cartoon novel are its cartoons and Kinney does not disappoint. In short, a good read.

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