Monday, November 23, 2020

63. Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney

I can't remember how we discovered these.  We got one and my daughter was hooked, so I have been taking the rest out from the library over the last few months.  It only take about half-an-hour to read one of them.  I've read them all plus the two Rowley Jefferson side books, so I figure I can count it as a single book (similar principle to a bande-dessinée series).  They are aimed at boys in elementary school.  I am not quite sure what it is about them that so appeals to my 8-year old daughter.  I suspect the format itself is a big part of it. They are books with illustrations with just enough balance of text and images to make them very easy to digest. The pictures themselves are nice, clean solid line drawings that have a lot of humour in them as well.  

Kinney has made a kajillion dollars from these books, so I will leave it to other experts to figure out why they are so popular in any more detail.  I found them to be quite fun and very enjoyable to consume aesthetically speaking (I even stole some of the character images for a presentation for work).  I get a chuckle and sometimes a belly laugh at least once a book and there are a few truly hilarious moments.  Perhaps the standout for me is in book 14 with the epic neighbourhood snowball fight when the weird forest inbred children come and join.  

 The portrayal of the mother is somewhat problematic. She is always both the overly strict punisher in the family and the lone enthusiast who is always forcing them to do "family activities" nobody wants to do. Now, to be fair, I suspect Jeff Kinney grew up around the same time I did and whatever patriarchal structures were in place then and probably responsible, the truth at the time was that a lot of moms really were like this.  However, that has changed significantly and I feel like this series is perpetuating and reinforcing a stereotype that we can all move on from.  The dad is feckless and selfish, but his passivity is never portrayed as being such a negative element in Greg's life. You could also argue that everybody is kind of awful in these stories (except sweet, innocent Rowley), but it still feels like the brunt of the parody is thrust upon the mother character.

1 comment:

meezly said...

I brought the first book back home when my work had a freebie shelf.