December 2012 | Vol. XI - No. 12
Q&A With Jeff Kinney, Author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, took the time to chat with TDmonthly about his books, how he became an author, and how he hopes his books help kids learn to love reading.
Q. What career path did you originally envision for yourself? Did you ever anticipate working as a children's book author?
A. In college, I had planned on becoming an ATF agent. So the idea of becoming a children's author was far from my mind!
Q. How did you come up with the idea for your first Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book?
A. After college I decided to try my hand at becoming a newspaper cartoonist. I spent about three years getting rejection letters. Eventually I realized that I drew like a kid, so I decided to embrace that. That's when Greg Heffley was born.
Q. What steps did you need to take to go from the original spark of an idea to getting it published? How long did it take?
A. I spent about eight years working out my ideas. I knew I had a good concept, and I wanted to let it breathe. So I took my time and did it right.
Q. What charitable organizations have you worked with in the past?
A. I've worked with various organizations such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Boy Scouts of America, several cancer organizations and the Barbara Bush Reading Foundation.
Q. Why did you choose to work with these particular charities?
A. I try to align myself with charities to fit my values and interests. I served as a Big Brother for three years in my 20s.
Q. Greg Heffley isn't exactly an angel - he's always trying to worm his way out of his responsibilities. What do you hope kids learn from Greg?
A. I don't know if I hope kids learn anything from Greg. Greg's flaws are meant to be humorous. If kids take anything away from my books, I hope it's that reading can be fun!
Q. What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as an author? Why?
A. I think getting published was my greatest accomplishment. I didn't think I would ever break into publishing in any way.
Q. How do you hope your books affect kids' lives?
A. I hope kids learn to love reading and humor.
Q. Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
A. Yes! I'd encourage kids to create something on their own. Creating something is a great feeling and it's contagious.
Love is in the air—but what does that mean for Greg Heffley? A Valentine's Day dance at Greg's middle school has turned his world upside down. As Greg scrambles to find a date, he's worried he'll be left out in the cold on the big night. His best friend, Rowley, doesn't have any prospects either, but that's a small consolation. An unexpected twist gives Greg a partner for the dance and leaves Rowley the odd man out. But a lot can happen in one night, and in the end, you never know who's going to be lucky in love. Launch date: November 13, 2012.
Awards: 2013 TDmonthly Seal of Approval
— As of 11/19/2012 this product had 4.5 out of 5 stars from 241 reviews on Amazon.com.
— In a Winter 2012 survey, half of retailers surveyed by TDmonthly said that the Diary of a Wimpy Kids series were their bestselling books.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 35567 (added 11/19/2012)
Greg Heffley is in big trouble. School property has been damaged, and Greg is the prime suspect. But the crazy thing is, he’s innocent. Or at least sort of. The authorities are closing in, but when a surprise blizzard hits, the Heffley family is trapped indoors. Greg knows that when the snow melts he’s going to have to face the music, but could any punishment be worse than being stuck inside with your family for the holidays? Launch date: November 15, 2011.
— As of 12/06/2011 this book had 4.2 out of 5 stars from 58 reviews on Amazon.com.
— In a December 2011 survey about best selling books, Dean Smith, owner of JaZams in Princeton, N.J. told TDmonthly that they sold 36 copies of the book in the first month after its release.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 33265 (added 12/6/2011)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid has become a phenomenon. It started online and then moved to the The New York Times best-selling book series by author/illustrator Jeff Kinney. The first of two 20th Century Fox movies was released in early 2010, with a second due out in spring 2011. Wimpy Kid Greg even flew fly high in the 2010 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for the first time. In this latest book, Greg Heffley is having second thoughts about growing up fast. Greg suddenly finds himself dealing with the pressures of boy-girl parties, increased responsibilities, and even the awkward changes that come with getting older—all without his best friend, Rowley, at his side. Can Greg make it through on his own? Or will he have to face the “ugly truth”? Hardcover, 224 pages.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 31392 (added 12/29/2010)
It's summer vacation, the weather's great, and all the kids are having fun outside. So where's Greg Heffley? Inside his house, playing video games with the shades drawn. Greg, a self-confessed "indoor person," is living out his ultimate summer fantasy: no responsibilities and no rules. But Greg's mom has a different vision for an ideal summer..one packed with outdoor activities and "family togetherness." Whose vision will win out? Or will a new addition to the Heffley family change everything? Launch date: October 12, 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 35569 (added 11/19/2012)
Let's face it: Greg Heffley will never change his wimpy ways. Somebody just needs to explain that to Greg's father. You see, Frank Heffley actually thinks he can get his son to toughen up, and he enlists Greg in organized sports and other "manly"¯ endeavors. Of course, Greg is able to easily sidestep his father's efforts to change him. But when Greg's dad threatens to send him to military academy, Greg realizes he has to shape up...or get shipped out. Launch date: January 2009.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 35568 (added 11/19/2012)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules by ABRAMS BOOKS
Other products from ABRAMS BOOKS
In this follow up to the #1 New York Times Bestseller “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” Greg enters a new year in his middle school. He is eager to put his embarrassing summer behind him, but his brother Rodrick is ready to tell all, should Greg step out of line. Launch date: February 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 15809 (added 10/19/2007)
Published under the Amulet Books imprint, this “novel in cartoons” by Jeff Kinney chronicles the experiences of an unlikely hero, Greg Heffley, who finds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner and already shaving. Greg tries to use his best friend’s popularity to his advantage, kicking off a chain of events that tests their friendship in hilarious fashion. The book features approximately 300 black-and-white illustrations.
— It is “a completely unique approach to middle-grade fiction — combining hilarious diary-style narrative with web comic art,” Valerie Ralph, in publicity for Abrams Books, told TDmonthly. Launch date: April 2007.
- “For the younger reader, the best seller is “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” by Jeff Kinney,” Jessica Wood, buyer for Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vt., told TDmonthly in November 2008.
— Barbara Fineblum, owner of Barstons Childs Play in Rockville, Md., told TDmonthly in a December 2014 interview that Diary of a Wimpy kid books are best-sellers at her store.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10948 (added 1/5/2007)
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Writer's Bio: Justina Huddleston graduated Magna Cum Laude from Emerson College with a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing in 2009. After graduating she was the on-site director of the Boston Children's Museum gift store for a year, selling educational, developmental, and creative activity toys that tied in with the museum's exhibits. Justina also interned at children's book publisher Candlewick Press before moving from Boston to Los Angeles, where she is now Editorial Director of TDmonthly Magazine. Read more articles by this author
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