Diary of a Wimpy Kid and A Girl Named Zippy

I hate to cover up yesterday’s post, but I hate to let the blog sit idle, too. I hope you will go read it if you haven’t already.

wimpy-kid.jpgWhat’s on my nightstand? Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney.

I’ve been looking for this book at the library for a year-and-a-half, but it was always checked out. How thrilled I was to nab both this one and the second one, Rodrick Rules.

My online critique group will be discussing the first book when all members have finished reading it. After taking the Character Emotions class together, and discovering how much we gain by working together, we’ve decided to somewhat formally discuss and evaluate books together, too. We’re an online critique group and book club–yippee!

Greg Heffley (the Wimpy Kid) is a fifth grade boy concerned with his popularity, avoiding the awful Cheese Touch, protecting himself from his mean big brother, and staying out of trouble in general. Kinney knows fifth grade boys. In fact, the book is so authentic, I suspect in some ways (all the best possible ways, I mean) he still is one.

The book is a cross between a novel and a cartoon, wordier than a graphic novel, but endowed with more pictures than a chapter book. I think the format alone appeals to today’s kids who are accustomed to, and prefer, short bites of text and oodles of quick images. It’s a book you can literally race through, which seems to be a natural pace for kids.

The Wimpy Kid franchise began as a serial comic on Jeff Kinney was born in Maryland, just like me, so that means we’re best friends. Or, we would be, I’m sure, had I gone to the University of Maryland. Sigh.

zippy.jpgWhat’s on my mp3 player? A Girl Named Zippy, by Haven Kimmel. That link goes to Kimmel’s blog. I’ve subscribed in Google Reader because what’s one more?

As you may recall, after reading Shelly’s chosen passages from Haven Kimmel’s second book of memoirs, my desire for immediate gratification tempted me to see what I could find on ListenAlaska by Haven Kimmel. I found A Girl Named Zippy, Kimmel’s first book of memoirs.

This is not a genre that I often read, but I find myself wishing it were still blueberry season so that I had a solid excuse to hang out in the sun, listening to stories. I went to Kimmel searching for fresh, funny, evocative description, and I found it.

Part of the attraction is a strong cast of characters. I always wonder if wildly interesting characters like the ones in this supposedly true account are genuinely interesting in Real Life, or if the author has made them interesting by selecting and highlighting (coloring?) a few details about the person that are moderately interesting. Is it the people themselves or the writer’s skill that makes the characters so darn compelling?

I have always felt that my boringly happy normal upbringing has put me at a disadvantage as a writer. My life story would bore my own mother. My father wasn’t the kind of man to borrow a zillion coon dogs and a raccoon for a diabolically planned cacophonous night after a neighbor complained about our two dogs barking. My father was far too civil and considerate, i.e. boring. (Sorry, Dad.)

If this is not true, if my boringly happy normal upbringing is not to blame for my inability to write wildly interesting memoirs, then, well, what does that mean?

I’m not going there out loud.

The point here is that Haven Kimmel, whether by her wildly interesting upbringing or her wildly fresh and insightful writing has crafted a wildly fun read (listen) in A Girl Named Zippy.

I think I’ll go pick cranberries.

Categories: Reading

1 reply »

  1. I bought “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” on a whim last week during a shopping trip to BJ’s. I gave it to Ben (4th grader), hoping he’d be interested. He actually started reading it immediately, and didn’t stop until he finished the book. Maybe I exaggerate here–he did stop in order to eat. Anyway, he was thrilled with the book and immediately asked for the next two. I’d say it was a huge success!

    And I’m thrilled that you are enamored with Kimmel’s writing, too!