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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw
by Jeff Kinney
Amulet Books
ISBN: 9780810970687
$12.95
Grades 4-8
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For me, interrupting my to-be-read pile to peruse the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid installment is like stopping off for a sausage McMuffin on my way to a Monkey Ball tournament (current world ranking: #22) – the trip is fun, but the McMuffin is a rare treat.

It’s January and Frank Heffley is not pleased with his son, Greg. The middle child of the Heffley clan, Greg’s self-centered (and often odd) behavior is beginning to make his dad wonder if drastic action needs to be taken. Namely, a summer at Spag Military Union. At school, Greg is busy building up his courage to talk to his crush Holly Hills. Along the way, he tries out for the soccer team, attends his first real school dance, and solves the mystery of the missing lunch snacks. As is the norm, nothing goes as planned and Greg usually ends up in the most embarrassing light possible (see cover).

The overarching storyline often takes a back seat to the day-to-day situations that Greg finds himself in. One involving the author photo of Shel Silverstein struck me as hilarious (although this might not be the case for young readers). Two of Greg’s writing projects, a “children’s story” and a school report on chimps also had me laughing out loud. But really, just about every page contains a punchline or two that are almost always successful.

Much has been made of the popularity of this series. Working in a school library, I can attest to that. The first two installments (Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules) simply do not appear on my shelves. Checked out, checked in, placed on the “hold” cart for the next person on the waiting list, repeat. Young readers have been anxiously awaiting The Last Straw. There are reasons for this:

1. The character of Greg Heffley is imperfect in ways that speak to youngsters.

2. The friendships and family dynamics are presented with a skewed realism that is close to real life, but taken to extremes.

3. Presented as Greg’s journal, the strong voice and liberal use of illustrations are hard to put down.

4. The results are laugh out loud funny.

A pleasure through and through, The Last Straw will not let down the Wimpy Kid faithful.

Visit the Diary of a Wimpy Kid website.

Also reviewed by BooksForKidsBlog.

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.

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