Thursday, December 17, 2009

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
© 2009 Jeff Kinney
224 pages

My niece (10) is in the process of reading through the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and enjoys it immensely, so I bought her one for Christmas. When I took it out of the shipping box to wrap it, I took a peek inside...and an hour later, I'd finished the book and laughed myself silly several times in the process. As the title might indicate, it's written in the form of a diary: the font resembles a child's handwriting, and the pages are lined as if from a notebook. Illustrations are provided by drawn cartoons. This approach reminds me of a beloved young adult's series I read while in high school, California Diaries. The intended age group here is younger: according to my exhaustive research at Wikipedia, the series begins with wimpy kid Greg beginning sixth grade.

Dog Days draws its title from the phrase "dog days of summer", those hot days of summer vacation in which nothing much gets done. Greg would like nothing more than to sleep all day and stay up all night playing video games, but his parents insist that he go outside and do things, and so the diary records some of his misadventures while being forced to walk around in open sunlight. He becomes infatuated by the pool girl (a la Wendy Peffercorn in The Sandlot), racks up a massive bill at a country club having drinks with his best friend, and then has to scheme for ways to earn the money back. It's a very...goofy book: there's no serious story as in A Series of Unfortunate Events. It's almost an extended comic strip with more text than usual.  The amount of text may be too much for smaller children to digest comfortable, so the reccommend ages of 9-12 seem well considered.

I'd recommend to to those who are in the position of buying books for children: although the story doesn't have a lot of meat in it, it may make it easier for kids to start enjoying longer books.

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