Sunday, October 20, 2013

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney

When I started this website, I was actually meaning to focus more on the “classic” books for boys--- stories like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.  You know, stories that talked about life in the great outdoors, where a young man has to fight off bears on the frontier or something.  That’s why I was a little hesitant to pick up a copy of “Wimpy Kid”, but I sure am glad that I did!  This book is quickly becoming known as a modern classic, and it’s a great reminder to readers everywhere that awesome new books are being written every day.

The story is about an pretty awkward guy named Greg Heffley, and how he adjusts to his first year of middle school.  It seems like everyone around him is taller, stronger, smarter, and (most importantly) more popular than he is.  Greg struggles to fit in to the new social circles at school, while doing his best to stay close with his best friend Rowley.  It’s a really difficult balancing act, especially since Greg is kind of a jerk!

I was laughing out loud as I worked my way through this book.  Greg gets himself into some crazy situations, and the cartoon illustrations really add a lot of humor to the book.  I really appreciated the fact that Jeff Kinney included at least one cartoon on every page.  This book would definitely appeal to a reader who enjoyed shorter stuff like comic books or magazines, or someone who might never have considered reading a novel.  If that sounds like you, then trust me on this one and pick up a copy of “Wimpy Kid”.

The “Wimpy Kid” stories have expanded into several sequels, and a few movies as well.  That’s great news if you love this book as much as I did, since it lets the story keep on going while you sink even further into the characters’ world.  I think that one reason these books have been such a hit is that they could take place anywhere.  The author never really states where Greg lives, so the stories could take place at any school or town in America.

Take a second to think about a few of the funnier things that have happened at your school.  Do you think that one of them might make an interesting story?  What about a book, or even a movie?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Call of the Wild, by Jack London

“The Call of the Wild” is the story of Buck, a dog who gets stolen and shipped off to Alaska where he’s forced to work as a sled dog.  Over time, Buck transforms himself from a house-pet into a rough, hardworking dog.   Eventually, Buck comes to embrace the tough life of a sled dog, and decides that he’s meant to live wild and free.

For me, one of the most interesting things about “Call of the Wild” is the way that Jack London makes Buck the main character.  It’s nice to read the book and discover what a dog might actually be thinking and feeling, especially during the times that Buck spends working with humans.  I also liked seeing how Buck changed as a dog, as he went from being a house pet to living in the wild. 

The author goes into a lot of detail about the tough living conditions that the gold prospectors and other frontiersmen endured during this period in history.   Moving so far away from civilization was a dangerous situation, and Jack London tells us about the incidents of crime and violence that were part of everyday life.  Sometimes it’s hard to read about animal abuse and cruel behavior, but I think that Mr. London is showing his readers a certain respect by being both gritty and factual.

 “Call of the Wild” is a very short book, but it really gives you a lot to think about when you’re finished.  How do you think you would fare if you were living and working on the cold, wild frontier?