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Rodrick Rules
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Gr 4-8-Hapless and hilarious Greg Heffley returns with another diary full of the minor irritations, major disasters, and occasional triumphs of a wimpy boy's middle school life. Kinney combines hand-written text with comical cartoons to present a character who is self-centered, sneaky, and dishonest, but also occasionally insightful and always very funny. Older brother Rodrick is his primary nemesis this time, partly because he threatens to spill Greg's embarrassing secret to the whole world. A nerdy best friend, a little brother who gets away with everything, and a bunch of clueless adults add significantly to Greg's problems. Readers, of course, will note that most of the narrator's troubles are self-inflicted, as when he wraps himself in toilet paper to avoid hypothermia in the boys' bathroom, does a disastrous job of pet-sitting, or decides to "wing it" for his school report on "The Amazing Moose." He's a character that readers can laugh at and empathize with at the same time. The line drawings that appear on every page play a large part in bringing Greg's world to life, providing humorous characterizations and details not mentioned in words. They also extend the appeal of the book to readers who are still a few years away from middle school themselves. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Abrams, 2007) has been wildly popular, and this sequel should be an equally big hit with reluctant readers, especially boys, and anyone looking for a funny book.-Steven Engelfried, Multnomah County Library, OR Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Kinney's junior-high diarist returns to chronicle another year's worth of comic moments in this riotous sequel. Once again, school-related drama constitutes a good portion of Greg's subject matter, from an ongoing correspondence with a pen pal ("I'm pretty sure 'aquaintance' doesn't have a 'c' in it. You really need to work on your English," Greg replies to the French student?s polite introduction) to mastering book reports by writing "exactly what the teacher wants to hear" ("There were a bunch of hard words in this book, but I looked them up in the dictionary so now I know what they mean"). As in the previous book, cartoons form part of the narrative, corroborating (or disproving) Greg?s statements. He claims that kids with last names at the start of the alphabet are smartest, and a side-by-side comparison of prim uber-nerd Alex Aruda and gap-toothed Christopher Ziegel drives the point home. Additionally, Kinney fleshes out the often testy relationships between Greg and his slacker older sibling, Rodrick, and his little brother, Manny (when Greg gets mad at Manny for shoving a cookie in his video game system, the toddler protests, "I'm ownwy thwee!" and offers a ball of tinfoil with toothpicks shoved through to apologize). The hilarious interplay between text and cartoons and the keen familial observations that set Diary of a Wimpy Kid apart are just as evident in this outing, and are just as likely to keep readers in stitches. Ages 8-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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