An account of how Jeff Kinney’s book series created simple literature for a new generation of young readers.
‘But if she thinks I’m going to write down my “feelings” in here or whatever, she’s crazy. So just don’t expect me to be all “Dear Diary” this and “Dear Diary” that.’
Those are a few words from the first page of the 2007 bestseller and the first entry in one of the most unique franchises, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The book and its subsequent sequels might look like a plain ole kids’ book that’s sold in the Scholastic book stand during your school’s Parents Teachers Meeting but it is more than that. Wikipedia aptly classifies Wimpy Kid as a ‘satirical realistic fiction comedy’ and rightly so.
It is not just about the life of a certain Greg Heffley trying to grow up in a pre-teen world; it is also a tale of how everyone around him gets affected and themselves grow with time along with Greg. This emphasises how in human society; our actions knowingly and unknowingly tend to affect each other.
Written in a simple manner and drawn in a simpler manner, the essence of the whole series lies in…simplicity only. Author Jeff Kinney takes up random observation in the life of a modern urban middle-class family and exaggerates it with some straight elegant satire (which is made even better with the scribbled drawings). Kinney writes about male showers in water parks being the grossest things in mankind, the stark differences in luxury between economy and executive class flights using leg room as a parameter amongst many other hilarious observations.
However, let’s not forget that the soul of the books still comes from the high school going titular character, Greg. As he grows up (and has been growing up in twelve more books), he encounters changes that even we as transient school and college students can relate to. Greg is a slightly ‘introvert-ish’ wimp who prefers playing video games rather than doing anything else. Yet he like many other students craves the attention of everyone, wants to date the prettiest girl and wants to be a famous star when he grows up.
These are common desires that we all would wish for as every shooting star passes by. His best friend Rowley is a simpleton who sticks with him mostly but there are times when he might give his attention to a girl or some other friend and to this, Greg feels left out and mellow. As times change, friends also change. This is one thing which we all deal with at some point in our student life or the other.
Apart from school, Greg has real-world relatable problems in his house too. His parents might get overprotective or a bit too affectionate at times, not understanding what their kid wants in this process. If you have had elder sibling issues or younger sibling issues, Greg will be your spirit animal as he has to deal with his self-obsessed dumb elder brother Rodrick who pulls pranks at him along with handling the alligator toothed toddler brother Manny, who can do everything from pissing in the swimming pool to befriending a pig.
Everyone in the series seems dumb and foolish in their own different ways. Maybe, that’s an indirect hint at humanity itself. No matter how smart or bold we might act, we might just be dumb and wimpy from inside. The key is to embrace our true selves and get amused by every step that we walk in our life. And if you wish to capitalise on it, then maybe just start writing a diary and publish it…
Featured Image Credits- Jeff Kinney
Shaurya Singh Thapa