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Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Kinney’

Wimpy Kid Book 11 (GalleyCat)

If you are one of the millions fans of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid, here is the exciting news.  The eleventh installment is going to be out on Nov. 1, 2016.

The waiting list is growing now, so why wait?  Be the first ones to read it.  Click here to reserve your copy.

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jeff kinney

The Horn Book Magazine and The Horn Book Guide are the most distinguished journals in the field of children’s and young adult literature. Talks with Roger is part of Horn Book’s free monthly e-newsletter. Roger Sutton has interviews various well-known authors of Children’s literatures in his “Talks with Roger” column. This time he got the chance to talk to Jeff Kinney, the author of one of the most ever popular “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series.

RS = Roger Sutton
JK = Jeff Kinney

Greg Heffley is back, in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck, the eighth in Jeff Kinney’s mega-popular novels about the middle-school antihero. The format, in which hand-printed journal entries on lined-paper pages are expertly punctuated by cartoons, has proven irresistible to ten-year-olds everywhere and of every stripe, a meeting place for eager and reluctant readers alike. While kids must hope that they would demonstrate more grace under pressure than does Greg, his problems—what do you do when your best friend gets interested in girls? How do I fit in when my mom makes me wear a sweater vest?—are their own. Jeff has been very busy this month touring in support of Hard Luck, but I finally managed to catch up with him on the Wimpy Kid bus via phone.

RS: Hi Jeff. You’re out on tour?

JK: Yes, I’m on tour, on a bus.

RS: You have a bus?

JK: It’s a giant lime-green Wimpy Kid bus, with something like eight bunks and eleven televisions. It’s pretty fun.

RS: You’re like a country-western star.

JK: I think this bus was actually used by Willie Nelson.

RS: I saw on Twitter that you were at the Charles Schulz Museum, and I was wondering what your Greg would say about Charlie Brown.

JK: They’re kindred spirits, in a way. All cartoonists owe a debt of gratitude to Charles Schulz.

RS: I find myself doing the same thing with Greg as I do with Charlie Brown, which is you’re reading along, and something happens, and you think, “Oh, God, what a loser.” And then five minutes later something else happens, and you think, “Oh, God, that’s me.” So then you think, “Am I a loser?”

JK: Yes. A lot of protagonists in children’s literature are on the heroic side, and I wanted to create a character that was more like I was.

RS: One of the measures of Wimpy Kid’s success—and there are many—is that its enjoyment by kids is matched by its disapproval from adults. I’m not saying universally, but you do get these people who say, “Oh, it’s too nihilistic. It’s too snarky.”

JK: I always thought that anyone who felt that way wasn’t in on the joke. You don’t want to be too heavy-handed when writing for kids, because they pick up on that. If you moralize they’re going to reject it. So I let my readers make up their own minds about Greg Heffley.

RS: Greg’s actions speak for themselves. Sometimes he’ll do something foolish, but more often than not, things seem to work out for him.

JK: Right. There have been moments in my books when Greg does the wrong thing, even when he knew that he was doing the right thing. There’s a reason there’s a frown on his face on every cover. He’s an unhappy kid, just because of his own actions.

RS: Do you think he’s essentially an unhappy kid?

JK: Yeah, I think he feels put-upon. I never like it when somebody describes him as whiny, because that’s not at all how I feel about him.

RS: My mother would have called him fresh.

JK: That’s a good word. He’s a kid who’s in middle school, and a kid who’s in middle school is, generally speaking, not that happy.

RS: Yes, middle school is miserable. I assume you drew upon your own experiences to create Greg’s persona and situation?

JK: I spent about four years trying to remember exactly what it was like to think like a kid, to rationalize like a kid. I really wanted the character to feel authentic. In a way, how a kid behaves is just the way an adult behaves, but an adult has learned to mask it. Greg is sort of the worst version of myself, or the side of myself that I’m not so proud of.

RS: Who do you think of as the typical Wimpy Kid reader? It does seem to be the kind of series that non-readers enjoy as well as readers.

JK: I would say the average fan that comes to a book signing is eleven years old, fifth grader, maybe 60 percent boys, 40 percent girls. It’s exactly who I’d like to be writing for, so I’m happy about that.
RS: What’s the secret to writing for boys? Everyone’s trying to crack that.

JK: I lucked into the secret to writing for boys, which is that I didn’t write for kids to begin with. I wrote the Wimpy Kid books for adults. I wasn’t thinking of kids as an audience at all. It was my publisher who made that decision. So by not having a kid in mind when I was writing, I didn’t try to impart some sort of lesson. I think I would have written quite differently if I were thinking about the audience.

RS: Did anything have to change when the publisher said, No, Jeff, this is really for kids?

JK: Maybe one or two jokes had to change. And even so, they didn’t have to change much. My sensibilities are really G- or PG-rated.

RS: How do you know when to leave a joke to the picture and when to put it in the text? I think you do that brilliantly.

JK: Thank you. The DNA of these books is in comic strips. In comic strips there’s a setup and then a payoff, and I like it when I can pay the joke off in the image.

RS: Which do you think you are more naturally, a writer or a drawer?

JK: I think I’m more naturally a cartoonist. I don’t consider myself to be a good writer or a good illustrator. But I think I’m a pretty good cartoonist.

RS: How far do you think you can take Wimpy Kid? How many volumes can we expect?

JK: I’m not really sure. I was just having this discussion with my editor. We reached number one on all the bestseller charts for this week—thank you very much—and I think that’s the sixth year in a row. It’s very hard to walk away when you feel that there’s an audience, or you feel like you have something to say. I think I’ll know because the interest will start to wane, but for now it feels pretty good.

RS: Does Greg age at all, or is it this perpetual middle-school time?

JK: He doesn’t age. The best cartoon characters don’t ever age. They stay the same. I made that decision with the fifth book, The Ugly Truth. Greg is frustrated that he can’t seem to get older when his classmates are going through puberty. What he doesn’t know is that he’s a cartoon character. He can’t move on.

RS: Sadist. Do you get suggestions from kids about any particular behavior that he might exhibit or situations he should be in?

JK: Kids are always wondering if Greg will get a girlfriend. I’m not so sure that’s where I want to take the books. In fact, I really strive for sameness between books. I want them to be very even. There’s some innocence lost, in a way, when your beloved characters change.

RS: What kind of recreational reading do you like to do?

JK: I listen to a lot of biographies, some autobiographies. You can always learn from somebody else’s life experience.

RS: One thing you can learn from Greg is empathy.

JK: A lot of parents of kids who are autistic reach out to me and say that the Wimpy Kid books are very important for their kids. I think it’s because they learn a lot about emotions by reading the text and seeing what plays out in the images.

RS: I have one last question, from the young woman who transcribes all my interviews. She said: “Ask him if he’s going to open that bookstore.”

JK: We’re planning on opening a bookstore. Hopefully it will all work out. It’s in a small town that can’t really support it on its own, but that’s our plan.

Have you put your name on the waiting list for the Newest and the 8th Diary of A Wimpy Kid yet? If not, you’d better hurry up!! Click here to reserve your copy.

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WIMPY8TEASER

The newest diary of Greg Heffley – Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 8 will go on sale in the United States in November 2013. Following major marketing and social media promotions in the U.S.,  seven international publishers will launch their respective campaigns around the world. The United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Greece, Japan, Korea, and Norway will release the book in their respective territories just after the U.S. debut.

Books in the core Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney include:

  1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2007),
  2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (2008),
  3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw (2009),
  4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (2009),
  5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth (2010), and
  6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever (2011).
  7. The Third Wheel,  (2012)

Jeff Kinney has also written and illustrated The Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book (2011) and The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary (2011).

Here are some trivia for the series to share with you:

  • On November 13, 2012, book 7 in the series, The Third Wheel, released with a 6.5-million-copy first printing in North America.
  • These books are a fixture on the USA Today bestseller list (the first book in the series has remained in the top 150 for more than 200 weeks) and the Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists.
  • The series has remained consistently in the top spots on the New York Times lists since the publication of the first book.
  • More than 85 million Diary of a Wimpy Kid books are in print around the world.
  • The series have been sold in more than 44 territories in 42 languages.
  •  Author Jeff Kinney was named one of Time magazine’s most influential people in the world.
  • Three movies based on the book series have grossed more than $250 million internationally.
  • The book series won Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards in 2010, 2011, and 2012 (and is nominated for one in 2013)
  • Jeff Kinney won a Children’s Choice Book Award in 2012.
  • These books have won numerous awards voted on by students and teachers around the globe.
  • The Wimpy Kid Island on poptropica.com, a virtual world for kids, remains one of the most visited on the site.

Kinney’s work has been widely praised for its ability to turn reluctant readers on to books.  If you are struggling on leading your kids into reading, if you hadn’t heard about this series from your kids, if you wanted to know why you couldn’t always find Jeff Heffley in the library, click here to reserve your copy; and stay tune for the newest development of the Wimpy Kid ….

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If you are a Diary of A Wimpy Kid’s fan, you probably can’t wait until Greg’s return.  The good news is The Diary of A Wimpy Kid Book Six: Cabin Fever is scheduled to be out tomorrow, November 15th.  The publisher, Abrams’ Amulet Books, has announced a six million-copy first printing for this one and, according to the publisher, it will be one of the most significant of 2011.

In this new book, the Heffley family is kept indoors by a major snowfall, and author Kinney said his inspiration was, in part, the “tough New England winter” that just passed last year.

Hope to get a copy to read?  Click here to reserve one.

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If you are one of the fans of this popular series, after reading all these books and watching the movie, what else can you do?

Publisher of the Wimpy Kid, Abrams’s Amulet Books, is sponsoring a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Comics Contest.  Readers up to 16 years old may enter by mailing in an original cartoon. One lucky winner will receive $500; a signed library of Wimpy Kid books; and $1,000 for the school or public library of his or her choice. The winner will be announced by author Jeff Kinney at the American Library Association annual conference  in New Orleans on June 25.

I hope after reading all this funny series you are inspired to create your own.   Furthermore, March is the national Arts Education Month.  Art is Education is an annual showcase of arts learning in Alameda County schools.  In participating Art Is Education, we host many art programs in the library too.  For detail information, click here.

So pick up your coloring gears and let your creativity soar.  Good luck on the Wimpy Kid’s comic contest and most importantly HAVE FUN!

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