Has it really been 13 years of Diary of a Wimpy Kids books? I guess so, and Jeff Kinney keeps going with onward his story. The 13th edition — The Meltdown — is another amusing, yet light, story (sort of, but not really) in which character Greg Heffley continues to struggle against the world.
Here, in this latest edition, the first half of The Meltdown is just a collection of gags and jokes about winter (although Kinney’s drawings are still quite funny) with almost no discernible narrative to hold it together. The pages breeze by. It’s only in the second half, when the frame of a neighborhood snow-fight, and the mayhem that ensues among the kids, comes to the surface as a structure, of sorts.
I have a fair number of boys in my classroom who are currently reading The Meltdown right now as an independent book, and while I know these books are way below our sixth grade, I never make a peep about. They are reading books. Let’s celebrate that fact. These reluctant readers are reading books. Meanwhile, I have a pile of other books ready to recommend for when they are done with the latest adventures of the Wimpy Kid.
Like a scattered few others before him (J.K. Rowling comes to mind as does Suzanne Collins), Kinney has gotten kids reading in a time when more and more young people — and alas, it seems to be mostly boys on this trend — are losing interesting in the power of stories on the pages of books. Whether this is due to video games as immersive alternatives, decreasing attention spans, over-scheduled outside activities or whatever, books and reading seem more like an endangered species than every before. We all need to get more books into their hands, and go from there.
Peace (in books and beyond),