"Wimpy Kid" Author Comes to Oak Park

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By Emily Paster

Today we have a guest post from my 9 year old daughter, Zuzu. Like many kids her age, Zuzu is a devoted fan of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. She has read every installment in the best-selling series multiple times and eagerly looks forward to the release of each new volume. Imagine her delight when I told her last week that she was going to have the opportunity to meet the author of the series, Jeff Kinney, and ask him a few of her most burning questions as well as receive a copy of Kinney's latest installment, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel. The price for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? A review of the book suitable for publication on West of the Loop. Zuzu took the deal and here she upholds her end of the bargain.

If you have an elementary or middle-school aged kid in your life, you may want to check out Zuzu's review. This book is going to be a hot item this holiday season — if your kid can wait that long! The Wimpy Kid books may not be anyone's idea of great literature, but there is no denying their popularity among the Tween set and any book that has kids waiting in line for a signed copy is a good thing in my opinion. Plus, through its outlandish humor, the Wimpy Kid series teaches kids subtle lessons about responsibility and empathy – mostly by exposing the main character's own selfishness and unwillingness to admit when things are his fault. As Zuzu says: "Don't be like Greg!"

The following are Zuzu's own words with very minimal editing from me.

Last week I was lucky enough to meet video game-maker and author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Jeff Kinney. I went to Magic Tree bookstore in Oak Park where he was signing books and I got my copy of Cabin Fever signed. [Our review copy of The Third Wheel did not arrive until after the book-signing took place.] Shortly thereafter me and a few other bloggers' kids went on a bus. I daresay that I will never forget that bus as long as I live! It was painted with scenes from the newest book The Third Wheel (that I will tell you about). On the inside was two laid-back leather chairs, two flatscreen TVs and a comfy leather couch. We each got to ask Jeff Kinney two questions. The questions I chose to ask him were: "do you like sports," and "are the girls in the book modeled after girls you've met?" To the first question he answered, "yes, I like to watch sports." To the second one he said: "Sometimes Greg [the protagonist in the Wimpy Kid books] doesn't understand girls so he draws them all the same."

Now I'm going to backtrack a little and tell you about the story [of The Third Wheel]. The main character Greg's problem is that he wants to find a date for the Valentine's Day dance. That's when things go wrong. It's a laugh-out-loud story that kids will enjoy. If you are wondering how The Third Wheel compares to other Wimpy Kid books, the book is the same format as the others; it's just told in different words. Fans like me are used to the things that Greg thinks. This book is no different, just a tad sillier. Throughout the series, Greg is still the same lazy middle-schooler who got beaten by a girl in wrestling (the first book) and brothers Manny and Rodrick still get into trouble.

I hope you've learned a bit about Jeff Kinney, The Third Wheel and my great experience.

Full disclosure time: I received a review copy of The Third Wheel at no charge and was invited to meet with Jeff Kinney during his appearance at the Magic Tree bookstore. I was not asked to write about my experience nor was I compensated in any way. All opinions expressed herein are my own, or Zuzu's own.

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