Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Zoo-Wee Mama!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid was a really fun book to end the semester with, especially because it was definitely one of the most relatable. While it was fun to reminisce about my years in middle school and laugh at the silly cartoon drawings, I was surprised at how complex the book actually is. Greg Kinney mastered the perspective of a middle schooler and honored that voice throughout, which made me think a lot about the intended audience versus my perspective, a hindsight that induced a feeling of superiority. The reasons a 6th grader would laugh at this book and the reasons I did are probably vastly different. What I found refreshing was the honesty of Greg’s voice and the realistic approach that Kinney employed. As a protagonist, Greg is more than fallible. For most of the book he is condescending to his best friend, tries to manipulate his way through the power chain of middle school, and think solely about himself until a shining moment at the end when he takes the Cheese Touch from Rowley. And although I found myself thinking that Greg is kind of a jerk, I appreciated Kinney’s realism, which is ultimately what makes the book so appealing. I realized that through Greg, Kinney is actually targeting all of us, whether we are fellow 6th graders, college students, or parents, because everyone has had a self centered moment in their lives, and who didn’t think the world revolved around them at age 11? With the supplemental drawings that literally draw you into the cartoon world and back to your pre-teen years, there’s a little Greg Heffley in all of us.

Just the fact that the reading list for a college level English course included a favorite of the twin 9 years olds I baby-sit for just sums up the most surprising part of the class for me. The incredibly wide variety of literature we read over the semester seemed arbitrary to me as I was purchasing them from the bookstore, but I now see that each story we read is not only complex but has a unique value that speaks to our overall investigation of the facets of humor. I found myself questioning and analyzing the previously unexplainable instinct of laughter that I had never examined in the past. My eyes were opened to the power of humor and even to aspects of myself that I didn’t know were there. What was so amazing to me was not only the understanding that you really can find humor in anything, but also that a group of 30 students with different backgrounds, interests, and senses of humor can come together seamlessly through the exploration of laughter and humor.

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