Monday, 26 December 2011

LAUGH WITH GREG HEFFLEY



LAUGH WITH GREG HEFFLEY

A kid’s mind is full of questions. And worries, like how to keep behaving nicely during the Thanksgiving Week. Or around the Christmas. Or for that matter all through the year, because Santa’s Scout is watching the kids. Any behaviour that is not nice, or that is bad, will get reported to the Santa. And Wimpy Kid or Greg Heffley certainly doesn’t want to be in Santa’s ‘Naughty List.’ His worry, therefore, is evident as we go through the recent Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever, by Jeff Kinney.

It is Christmas, and I wonder what Greg is doing. Is he starting at the Christmas tree and planning to tear apart the wrapper of the gift kept under the tree? Going by his impatient nature, I won’t be surprised if he has already taken out the gift, without telling it to anyone. Trust author Kinney, the one who created this little character, and you’d know 12-year-old, self-obsessed Greg is not going to sit idly and wait for the ‘right’ time to open the wrapper.

An international bestseller, the Wimpy Kid series has been a favourite among the kids, though Kinney didn’t think of the little ones when he began writing. In any case, Wimpy Kid can also be liked by older folks, like me, who won’t mind reading about the innocence, fun, mischief and all that make up a cocksure kid’s world. With the black-and-white illustrations and letters that resemble a kid’s handwriting, this diary-format story of Greg will remind anyone about his or her younger days. Greg and the characters around him will make you laugh. And perhaps they will make one recall something similar that our very own Ruskin Bond has been penning, with Rusty and Mr Oliver as the leading characters. The only difference could be that Rusty, like most of us, grew up in an Indian setting, while this diary is set in the USA. But keep aside the nations and the kids’ world looks the same.

In this particular diary, we see Greg is in a big trouble. His school property has been damaged, and Greg is the prime suspect. The authorities close in, as a blizzard strikes the neighbourhood. What happens next? That’s for the reader to find out. I, for one, won’t spoil the fun.

The book reads pretty easy. What amuses is how Greg thinks: at times, he’s a kid; at times, he’s an adult. This kid spends most of his money at the concession stand to buy the chicken drumsticks. When he is probed by the Vice Principal, he looks around to see whether there is any ‘lie detector.’ He decides that he’s never going to have kids and stay a bachelor like Uncle Charlie. Then there are situations that are funny, but can be real. Like when Greg’s school removes all the playground equipments so that the kids do not suffer injuries, and thus avoiding possible lawsuits from their families. So recess is basically like a prison yard, writes Greg. To counter that, kids start a black market of toys.

Jeff Kinney says there is no message in the stories. But the ability of a child to look at the anomalies and the bleak things can be thought-provoking. Beyond the obvious fun, that’s the strength of this book.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever
By:
Jeff Kinney
Genre: Fiction / Children
Publisher: Puffin
Pages: 217
Price: Indian Rs 299