Disastrous Holiday Getaway? Should Have Read Wimpy Kid First

Cindy: As a middle school librarian, I know what to do each fall: Order a half dozen copies of the newest Wimpy Kid book for each of my libraries and start the hold queue. Jeff Kinney needs no promotion at this point, so I haven’t read one of Greg Heffley’s stories since the original Diary of a Wimpy Kid debuted ten years ago. But this fall’s sequel, The Getaway (2017), caught my attention, and I read it in one gulp, laughing all the way.

Greg’s parents have decided to skip Christmas and take the family to the site of their honeymoon for an all-inclusive resort holiday in the sun. Greg’s not happy to skip presents, and he’s even less happy as things continue to go wrong; the airport scenes alone will have any adult who picks up this book commiserating with Greg about the pitfalls of air travel today. Surely things have to pick up when they hit the resort! Um, no. The airline loses their luggage, the hot tub and pool are overflowing with people, and a giant dinosaur of some sort (Greg learns it’s an iguana) and birds attack his food at the outdoor restaurants. Their snorkeling adventure and banana boat rides don’t go well, and the Heffleys are not having any luck getting a good photograph for their Christmas card, either. I’d forgotten how expressive and funny Kinney’s spare line drawings are. He’s spawned a whole industry of read-alikes, but there’s a reason that my students still ask for Wimpy Kid first. I’m glad I took another trip with Greg and family, but this story makes me glad I spent the holidays at home!

Lynn: I WAS trying to plan a warm-weather trip, but after reading the Heffley’s vacation misadventures, I’ve decided to stay home in the snow. Poor Greg! If something can go wrong on a trip, it does—not just wrong or embarrassingly wrong, but spectacularly wrong. From airport security to jellyfish in the swimming pool to slugs in his soda, Greg’s Christmas holiday will have kids falling out of their chairs laughing. As Greg says, “Anytime you add the word ‘family’ to something, you know things are gonna be bad.”

Kinney’s description of airline travel might just reduce attendance at ALA Midwinter next month. Speaking of which, I  have a horrid memory of a trip returning home from ALA with my suitcase so packed with galleys that it was overweight at the check-in. I had to open the bag (in front of the huge watching and irritated line) and stuff my dirty clothes into my carry-on to get it all home. Was Greg Kinney there that day?

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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