I’m pretty sure, somewhere, in the past posts at this blog, there are fourteen other reviews of Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid collection, starting with the very first one published 15 years year ago. I bought it for my eldest son; we read it together; we laughed at the hijinks; we bought the second one the following year. And so on and so on and so on, as each of my three boys grew up, we read the books each November.
Now my eldest son’s an adult, away from home, and my youngest is in high school, and still, I buy the latest Wimpy Kid book each November like clockwork. For a time, I did it because my students were still reading the series, and I am always trying to stay attuned to their interests. But I asked around the classes the other day, and no one said they were buying the new book, nor did many even know Kinney was still publishing them.
But I bought the newest one anyway, mostly out of habit, but also, because Kinney’s visual style and humor storytelling still makes me giggle at times, and who can beat that, really? Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Deep End, the 15th book, is classic Wimpy Kid, although the opening scenes in which the family is stuck at home, isolated and going batty, suggests the social distancing of the Pandemic in an inferential way (not outright), as Kinney seems to be acknowledging the world beyond the book, and the lives of his readers.
Then, the story moves on, with Greg Heffley and his family hitting the road in an RV to go on a vacation trip, and as usual, all sorts of craziness begins to take hold as they visit different vacation stops, each progressively getting more nutty, with flare guns in National Forests, a wandering skunk, inner tube disasters, sewage tank problems, etc.
The “deep end” of the title refers to both the swimming pool that sets the scene for the final section of the book, in which the family’s fun at an RV camp pool leads to their RV going into the river and heading downstream fast, and the going off the “deep end” is Greg’s observation of his own situation of losing it. As per normal.
There are narrative consistencies that Kinney keeps anchored on throughout the series, right from the start — family, resilience, humor — and the fact that Greg is still a middle schooler after 15 years and 15 books might give one pause, until you realize that middle schoolers have the best and worst views of the world, and that makes them a perfect foil for a comedy series like The Wimpy Kid.
Looking forward to next November …
Peace (laughing along),