Several years ago, I found myself in a bind. A local private school that had never invited me to visit before asked me to come in and address their entire middle school for ten minutes during an assembly. There was the one part of my brain that said, “Well, my typical presentation lasts about 40 minutes, and it’s most effective if I’m speaking to one or two classes at a time.” Then there was the other part of my brain that realized that I could give my statistics a huge boost by seeing several hundred students at the same time, and that I COULD hypothetically condense my 40-minute presentation into 10 if I tried hard enough (and cut out a lot of it).
The other big problem was that since I was going to be talking to 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students all at once, I either wanted to talk about crossover books that were definitely in both our children’s and young adult collections or children’s books that were cool and popular enough that younger teens would enjoy them. Because nothing would be crueler than telling these kids about books from the young adult collection knowing that some of them could check them out right away while others might not be able to for another year depending on which box their parents had checked on their library card applications.
So I scoured the shelves of our children’s room looking for books that fit the bill, and I picked two crossover books plus this Wimpy Kid book. I then skimmed this book really quickly, created a list of major plot points, and voila! There was my booktalk. If I left out any of the plot points on my list, either because of time constraints or because I experienced “deer in the headlights” syndrome, it would be okay. If I got any of those plot points in the wrong order, it would also be okay. And if worse came to worst, I could just hold up the book and say, “We have lots of Wimpy Kid books at the library!” Because that would be okay, too.
So I got to the school, found my way to the auditorium, and was told that I actually had FIVE minutes to speak because there were a lot of other things on the agenda. And then … well, everything after that was kind of a blur, but I think it went okay in the end.
Greg Heffley has made an important New Year’s resolution. This year, he’s resolved to help other people improve … because Greg himself is pretty much perfect! So now Greg is trying to make his mother chew her potato chips more quietly, trying to stop his father from cheating on his diet, and trying to stop his brother Roderick from being such a horrible person. Unfortunately, it turns out that other people don’t LIKE being told how to improve themselves, so this resolution doesn’t work out too well.
Greg writes about a lot of things in his diary, from that failed New Year’s resolution to a Valentine’s dance where the kids are told they HAVE to dance because it’s going to count as 20% of their PE grade. Then there was Greg’s single-handed destruction of the soccer team’s perfect record. And the time that he got a zero on his geography quiz. And the time that Greg’s little brother Manny invented a gross new nickname for him and wouldn’t stop using it. And the time that beautiful Holly Hills couldn’t even get his name right. And the time that Greg’s father said that he wanted to send Greg to military school …
Actually, there are a LOT of things in this diary that Greg Heffley would rather not remember! But YOU can read all about them in
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney