Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Long Haul by Jeff Kinney

The Long Haul by Jeff Kinney. Diary of a Wimpy Kid series #9. 217 p. Amulet Books/ Abrams, November 4, 2014. 9781419711893. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review.)

Well, it's finally here and, just about ten days after pub date, there are only 3 copies out of 186 available in my public library cooperative catalog. There's already a fairly long waiting list for the two copies my library will have available. So does this book really need to be reviewed? Even if Mr. Kinney dialed the book in, it's pretty much an automatic multiple-book purchase for most school and public libraries. While a bit more over-the-top than previous installments, this one was definitely not dialed in.

Greg Heffley is looking forward to the freedom of summer vacation when dreams of doing nothing are dashed by his mother. Inspired by an article in Family Frolic magazine, Mrs. Heffley announces that the family will be going on a road trip. She wants the family to bond. Greg hopes that his dad will put the kibosh on the plans but no such luck. As quick as you can say, "Road trip!" hilarity and chaos ensue. The family sets out in a van packed to the gills, towing a leaky boat for fun and adventure misery and torture. 

I think I laughed out loud more while reading this one than all of the others combined. Don't get me wrong. I smiled a lot in earlier volumes, but rarely laughed. This one tickled my funny bone. There were quite a few familiar and relatable moments in all the mayhem. There's even a salute to another juggernaut author, Dav Pilkey, as well as an acknowledgement that with said fame, fans don't exactly get personal responses to fan letters (wink, wink).

I need to switch out of review mode and into editorial mode for a moment. I guess I've got the heart of a ten-year-old boy since I'm a sucker for a good (any) fart joke. In a previous job at a K-8 school, I read aloud Walter the Farting Dog to a kindergarten class to the subversive delight of the five and six year olds and the horror to the adults in the room. Indeed, I found myself defending my choice later. My libraries have always been stocked with books with appeal for reluctant readers. So if potty humor and hijinks are going to lure kids into reading, I'm all for it. Thank you, Jeff Kinney, for luring millions of kids into reading. Thank you Amulet Books, for providing the book for review.

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