HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, Book 9
Author and Illustrator: Jeff Kinney
Publisher: Amulet Books, 2014
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8 – 12
Rating: ** 2 stars (POOR)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Kinney, Jeff. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, Book 9 (published in 2014 by Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams, 115 W. 18th St., New York City, NY 10011). Oh dear! Another Wimpy Kid book. How many are their going to be? The generic formula for all these “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” stories is that young Greg Heffley, the “wimpy kid,” has some kind of problem and comes across all kinds of odd, and supposed to be humorous (to us), situations in trying to deal with it. In The Long Haul, the specific problem is a family road trip in which Greg, his parents, older brother Roderick, and little brother Manny head out in the van for summer vacation to do all types of adventuresome things planned by his mother from the Family Frolic magazine and nothing goes right. I’ve written the publisher and asked them not to send me any more of these books to review. These books are apparently very popular, and a lot of people seem to like them, so if you want to read them, that’s all right with me.
I don’t believe that they’re necessarily evil, bad, or wicked, but I personally just don’t care for them as they seem to have nothing that resonates with me or that I think would be of benefit to children who are being brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. There is a little humor, such as when the cinnamon roll package burst, but very little, and the humorous times come only few and far between. In fact, this is one of the most often made criticisms of the book, even by some who like the series. One reader wrote, “The series hasn’t been funny for a long time, and this book is no exception….The first couple of books were funny, but it went down hill fast. There’s nothing new to offer.” Another said, “It has little humor value (I laughed maybe one time) and it’s just a list of bad luck events that happened in Greg’s trip….The plot is garbled and it’s more depressing than funny. Compared to the other books in the series, this one was the worst.”
This book has the requisite scene, which most modern authors of children’s series feel they must include at some point, where parents who object to youth literature with “rude humor” are portrayed as mindless book banners and book burners, although it is difficult to understand how this actually fits into the plot of a road trip. There is also a scene where Dad, while driving, is holding his cell phone to his ear with one hand, trying to close the sun roof with the other, and steering with his knees. I guess that this is supposed to be one of the humorous times, but it is actually rather dangerous and in several states, such as here in Illinois, illegal. Then after this, Dad drops his phone and “was cursing because he couldn’t reach his phone.” Though no actual curse words were used, it’s stated matter-of-factly, as if it’s normal for dads to curse. Godly dads don’t. And I guess that this is what I really don’t like about these books. They don’t have any actual ungodliness in them, but they don’t have anything really godly in them either.