Author Jeff Kinney began writing “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” over 15 years ago. He wanted to create a comic that could be enjoyed by adults and can be found in the book shops’ humor section.
“It’s a great thing that I didn’t know I was writing for children. I believe that adults often start with the lesson in their mind when they write a book for children. Kinney said that the lesson becomes the priority in the book. “I emphasize humor, and I only choose things that make me laugh. That’s what I believe is the secret to ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’.
Kinney’s “secret recipe” of chronicling seventh grader Greg Heffley’s awkward, funny, and relatable middle school life became immensely popular among young readers. According to the publisher, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” has sold more than 275,000,000 copies. Book number 17, “Dipper Overload,” was released on Oct. 25.
“Greg is wimpy. It can be used to mean someone who isn’t very effective or a weakling in physical terms. Kinney stated that Greg felt that way. Greg is on the cover of Book One. You can see everything about him. He almost feels like he is carrying the entire world’s weight in that backpack he carries.
Kinney stated that Greg is more to Kinney as a cartoon character than a literary character. He explained that this translates into a commitment to his audience.
“When you have a cartoon figure, it’s a promise that they won’t disappear and that they won’t change or evolve too much. Kinney stated that they are easily identifiable. Kinney said that although my books are no longer relevant to young children, it is a great comfort to know that they will be a part of their lives for many years. It’s a great feeling to be a part of the fabric of other people’s growing years.
Kinney believes in exposing children to a broad range of books. He is an author as well as the co-founder of An Unlikely Story, an independent bookstore located in Plainville, Massachusetts. Kinney also owns it with his wife.
When Kinney was asked about the recent cultural decision to ban certain books from schools and public libraries, Kinney mentioned a letter to Congress signed and dated by him along with more than 1000 other authors. It read: “Reading stories that reflect diversity in our world builds empathy for all people.”
Kinney said that representation is more than a buzzword. “It’s essential. It’s sometimes essential for a child’s long-term survival. We should all make sure our children have different views. It makes us better people and makes us better citizens.
Kinney recommends five middle-school books to help achieve this goal:
Kwame Alexander, “The Door of No Return”
The publisher describes the story as a novel that is inspired by history. A sudden loss leads Kofi Offin, 11, on a “harrowing trip across land and water, and away from all he loves.”
Jerry Craft, “Class Act: The New Kid,”
Drew Ellis, an eighth grader from a prestigious private school, is a graphic novel filled with humor and heart. Drew must find a way for his friends to accept one another despite the social pressures. The publisher synopsis also asks, “Will Drew finally be able to accept himself?”
Kelly Yang, “Three Keys”
Sixth-grader Mia is facing new challenges in school and at home at her Calivista Motel, a sequel to “Front Desk”, the award-winning novel. The author describes Mia Tang as “But if anybody can find the key that will get through turbulent times,”
Lamar Giles, “The Last Last Day-of-Summer,”
This is a magical tale with imagination and heroism about two cousins who want to have an extended summer but accidentally freeze time. The publisher’s synopsis states that the boys discover that the secrets between the hours, minutes, and seconds are not as endless fun as they thought.
Justin Baldoni, “Boys Will Be Human,”
Baldoni, the producer, actor, and the author is a guidebook that builds self-esteem for boys aged 11 and above. He explores social and emotional learning around masculinity, confidence, courage, and strength. “This book doesn’t teach you the rules of the boys club,” says Baldoni. “It’s about UNLEARNING the rules.”