Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid

Published: 9th April 2019Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Harry N. Abrams
Pages: 224
Format: Paperback
Genre: Junior Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

Hi my name is Rowley Jefferson and this is my book. Now I have a diary just like my friend Greg… 

Rowley’s best friend Greg Heffley has chronicled his middle-school years in thirteen Diary of a Wimpy Kid journals. Now it’s Rowley’s turn to give his side of the story.

But Rowley has agreed to tell Greg’s story along the way, too. (After all, Grey says one day he will be rich and famous and the world will need to know how he managed it).

But Rowley’s stories about Greg might not be quite what his friend had in mind . . .

I do not feel bad judging Greg having only read 2 books out of 12. I started the third and could not finish it because he annoyed me so much. Kinney made no secrets in those books about Greg consciously doing bad things and being an awful friend by tricking Rowley, blaming Rowley, and bullying him. This book flips those others on its head as it shows what Greg is like on the other side. For those at the receiving end of his schemes and jokes.

This may be from Rowley’s point of view but it still points out how mean Greg is and how he takes advantage of Rowley’s kind nature. It actually made me sad to see how Rowley is treated. He puts up with Greg and still sees him as a best friend. Seeing Greg’s actions on Rowley are an entirely different thing than seeing Rowley react to those actions, I wasn’t angry I was heartbroken.

The language Kinney uses is ideal because it uses feelings kids can relate to and the situations he describes were so familiar: Rowley trying to work on homework and having Greg interrupt him and distract him; Rowley expressing his feelings of wanting to do well in school and admits hating having Greg try to derail that; even just having Rowley try to enjoy the things he likes without Greg coming and stealing them or ruining them. The fact Rowley actually hides in his house to escape Greg is a fantastic example of how much of a terrible kid this is.

I am excited that kids will get to see the other side of Greg’s antics and realise how much of a toxic and abusive kid he is. I hope it sparks conversations about bullying and being taken advantage of, and what a real friend would do. One fantastic thing is that Rowley’s parents also tell him he needs to find a new friend. Multiple times. Even Greg’s mum helps Rowley and makes Greg apologise for his behaviour.

Rowley is a sweet kid. He is a kid who hasn’t got a lot of friends and he has been Greg’s friend for so long he can’t see him not being there. Rowley is not the stupid kid Greg makes him out to be, he is naïve, he is sweet, but he also pities Greg which I found intriguing.

I have made it no secret my dislike for Greg in the other books but I am thrilled that Kinney has made this move because it shines a spotlight on Greg’s behaviour, no hiding behind jokes and fun boyish antics, this story takes Greg out from being portrayed as a victim and a poor kid who is hard done by the world. This shows him to be a bully and a manipulative little brat who every adult around him can see he is a mean person.

The reviews I’ve seen either praise this book or shame it. Those who dislike it often say they didn’t like how Greg was portrayed. They are a variation of “Rowley just points out how awful Greg is! I know he was naughty but the books were funny so it was ok”. Maybe you just needed to have been bullied to see what the effect of those actions really are. But Greg was funny so what did it matter?

You can purchase Diary of a Friendly Kid via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

The Diary of A Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Published: 1st April 2007 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
  Puffin
Pages: 217
Format: Paperback
Genre:
 Junior Fiction
★  – 1 Star

It’s a new school year, and Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. The hazards of growing up before you’re ready are uniquely revealed through words and drawings as Greg records them in his diary.

In book one of this debut series, Greg is happy to have Rowley, his sidekick, along for the ride. But when Rowley’s star starts to rise, Greg tries to use his best friend’s newfound popularity to his own advantage, kicking off a chain of events that will test their friendship in hilarious fashion.

As I was reading it I thought Greg was a horrible friend and mean, at first I told myself it was just typical young boy “I’m always wronged and my brother is a pain” kind of stuff, a young boy who is a bit self-centred, a bit stupid at times, but not too terrible. But the further I went the worse it became. Greg is a horrible kid, like a proper terrible friend and person.

I have ZERO sympathy for him, I thought this book was about a poor kid who was as it says, wimpy, and who had a hard life trying to fit in or whatever. Turns out he’s a terrible friend, a bully, a liar, and an all round selfish unrepentant bad person.

Through the course of this book Greg does one terrible thing after the other, and even when (and if) he is punished he doesn’t learn.  I cannot believe people love this book. Greg has no conscience, no remorse. He is rude, selfish and a jerk to everyone. He is manipulative and a liar and never once redeems himself even the one time he thinks he does, and all of this is under the guise of it being “funny”. There really isn’t even any humour to fall back on. Is the humour Greg being mean to his supposed best friend? For being relieved some other kid is being bullied and not him (though it was essentially his fault)?

I can’t believe people praise this book. For what? For teaching kids about throwing things at girls with no real consequence? Being mean to your friend because he succeeds when you don’t? This entire book is filled with Greg never once learning his lesson. Maybe, MAYBE if he had been a bully and then learnt some remorse or lesson or learnt SOMETHING then you could make an argument, but there is nothing to be gained from this book except a diary of a kid with no empathy or morals.

I get it, books don’t need morals to make book enjoyable, but this is truly sending the worst message to kids about how to behave and what is acceptable. There are much better books and series out there that are ten times as enjoyable and worthy of being read. I was going to keep reading this series but after finishing it I won’t be rushing out anytime soon.

You can purchase Diary of a Wimpy Kid via the following

Fishpond | Dymocks | BookDepository

 A&R BookWorld | Booktopia

Wordery | Amazon Aust | Amazon