Monday, January 17, 2011

The Ugly Truth review

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth
November 2010

This was a very funny book, but perhaps not quite as funny as the rest of the series. Don't get me wrong! The Ugly Truth has plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. But, while the first four books had me roaring with laughter, erupting in guffaws, and frequently demanding to read aloud portions of the inspired insanity to anyone within earshot while gasping and trying to catch my breath, this latest offering only had me chuckling ruefully, or perhaps breaking out in a broad grin from time to time. 
I think part of the reason why this book didn't tickle my funnybone as much is because Greg Heffley is growing up. He's always been concious of being a middle-school boy and a bit of a late-bloomer, but this volume has him much more worried about when he's going to catch up with a lot of the guys in his class. There's less random hilarity in this volume, and more of a connected storyline, as Greg ruminates on his still strained friendship with Rowley, his uncle's upcoming wedding, his health class and school slumber party.  Greg's obsession with getting more popular, and winning over girls in particular, continues to be charming.  

I was surprised however, by how much he really didn't get it, in terms of Rowley.  Greg has been a selfish friend over the years, but he doesn't see that at all. He just wants things to go back to the way they were, when Rowley put up with all of his abuse.  Greg's bored demeanor with everything having to do with his family, and his disappointment at being treated like a little kid at his uncle's wedding (he was hoping to be a full-fledged groomsman, rather than an assistant flower boy) was pretty silly, and the highlight of the book, for me, was the school sponsored sleepover. Convinced he's going to be able to mingle with cute girls all evening, Greg eagerly signs up, but is sorely disappointed when it's mostly guys and their over-earnest teachers take away all of the kids cell phones and electronic devices when they refuse to socialize with each other. Predictably, the helicopter parents arrive to pick up their kids early, fearing the worst when they don't answer their text messages.

The blend of humor, and stick figure-like cartoons which convey so much emotion which are the hallmarks of this series are still here and Wimpy Kid fans won't be disappointed in this latest addition.

I borrowed this book from the library.

7 comments:

  1. I didn't realize these books were so funny! I love the ones that leave me convulsing in hysterics and make my cheeks hurt the entire time I'm reading:) I think the stick figure drawings are probably just as entertaining as the story:)

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  2. I went out and bought the first three, and turn to them whenever I need a pick-me-up. There's nothing like a good laugh, that's for sure.

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  3. I think all of the books in this series are cute and funny! However, I wish they were a bit longer or had more substance to them, because I finish them too quickly for my liking. Great Review!

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  4. I love this series. I agree with Jenny, the illustrations are just as funny as the story. I have found each book to be a little less funny than the one before it. I haven't read this one yet.

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  5. I can't keep these things on the shelves. The kids (even 2nd graders!) can't get enough of them.

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  6. It's hard with cartoons to allow the characters to grow - or to grow up. So much depends on the them being the person we expect them to be. Many cartoons manage this by not allowing any passage of time at all. Few let the characters grow, and sometimes do it well. But it is a challenge.

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  7. @Small Review I thought the first four were uniformly awesome. This one wasn't quite as good. But, I feel terrible saying that! Because it is really funny! Truly, it is! I think you'd only be disappointed if you were accustomed to reading the earlier books in the series. In fact, I think I'm going to start recommending kids who are new to the series, to read this one first, and then carry on with the rest of the series. Or actually, maybe I'll recommend 1, 5, 2, 3, 4, in that order.

    @Jim I know!!! I get a lot of concerned parents because their 1st or 2nd graders want to read them! It's really not that racy! Admittedly, Greg Heffley does spend a lot of time thinking about how to impress the girls in middle-school, but it's pretty tame stuff.

    @MotherReader You are so right. The only comic I can think of off the top of my head that has successfully aged the characters is "For Better or Worse" It's a tough balancing act!

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