Imagine a kid opening a book and finding that reading isn’t work but entertainment. My 16-year-old daughter, who usually grabs the TV remote for her after-school fun, picked up the new Wimpy Kid book instead — the moment it arrived in the mail. She curled up on the couch and started reading, I even heard her laughing now and then.
Humor is what drives this series, attracting readers regardless of gender or reading level. It’s in keeping with Jeff Kinney’s mission: to provide a gateway for reading by keeping stories fresh and fun. And The Long Haul, the ninth book in the Wimpy Kid series, is no exception.
With over 150 million copies in print worldwide, the Wimpy Kid books join an elite circle of super selling series including Peter Rabbit, Star Wars, and The Babysitters Club. Since the publication of his first Wimpy Kid book in 2007, Kinney has not only carved a permanent place on the bestsellers list, but turned on a new generation of kids to reading.
We interviewed Kinney via email to learn more about his work and new book.
In his latest adventure, Kinney has fun taking the Heffley family away from home, sending them on a roller coaster journey that, for the most part, goes downhill, fast. He successfully shows how NOT to plan a summer road trip — starting with packing the ‘bare essentials’ to ‘choosing your own adventures’ which eventually leads to losing their only survival options – their wallets and the car.
“A road trip seemed like an unexplored territory for me, so I dove in!” shares Kinney, who worked on the idea while vacationing in Puerto Rico. He also thought it would be a creative challenge to have all of his characters in every scene.
Middle schooler Greg Heffley is looking forward to a relaxing summer with nothing to DO and nowhere to BE, when his mom shatters his dream by announcing a family road trip. Thanks to inspiration from Family Frolic magazine, the Heffley’s one-of-a-kind travel experiences include educational games-on-the-go, crazy contests at the country fair, priceless moments with a prize pig, and a close call car crash.
This leaves Greg with no jolly journal entries to jot down but downright disasters to live through and laugh about. Kinney hopes readers will see the humor in these terrible situations.
(Jeff Kinney, pictured with students at Key Elementary School in Virginia.)
The author does a wonderful job bringing out the true character of each family member. Kinney says he had the most fun creating Greg because of his complexities. He considers him the most fully human of his characters, and because of that, he’s relatable. The novel follows a comic-book format and is written in first-person, an approach that makes Kinney’s books an instant hit among children. •
The Long Haul is an action-packed, funny family adventure and a perfect stocking stuffer for your favorite reader. • Don't miss our interview with best-selling author Jeff Kinney on how to encourage reluctant readers. In the January issue of Memphis Parent magazine!