Posts tagged Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Most Popular Kids Books of 2013

Christchurch City Libraries has just released our list of the most popular kids books of 2013. In the Top Ten there are only 4 different authors.

Here they are, in order of fewest books to most:

Cover of Queenie

Jacqueline Wilson has one book on the list Queenie at #8.

1953, England. Elizabeth is to be crowned Queen of England, but Elsie Kettle and her grandmother both fall ill with tuberculosis. Elsie is whisked away to a hospital where she is confined to bed for months and misses her beloved Nan desperately. However, in the hospital she makes friends, including Queenie, the hospital’s majestic white cat.

Read some more posts about Jacqueline Wilson on our blog.

Cover of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

J.K. Rowling has one book on the list, and it’s a classic – Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone at #9.

It’s been 17 years since this came out and it’s still going strong! J.K Rowling has recently said she will write a play and another book about the Harry Potter universe.

Last Straw Book CoverDog Days Book CoverThird Wheel Book Cover

Jeff Kinney has THREE books on the Top Ten list this year. The Last Straw at #10, Dog Days at #6 and at #1 – The Third Wheel!

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is the hilarious story of Greg’s life at school and home. The funny words are matched up well with some VERY funny pictures. If these books don’t make you laugh out loud, you don’t have a funny bone! Read some more posts about Jeff Kinney on our blog here.

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The author with the most books on our Top Ten list is Rick Riordan! HALF of the books on the Top Ten list are by this awesome author who writes the Percy Jackson series. These exciting books have sold over 20 million copies and the third film in the series is due out in 2015. You can read more about Rick Riordan by looking at posts on our blog about him.

See how many books you’ve read in our most popular kids books of 2013 and let us know in the comments below 🙂

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Bundles of Book Lists

Did you know the Library has lots of book lists that we’ve made especially for you? There’s nearly 50 lists of books that we’ve chosen from our catalogue about different subjects. So if you like spy stories, animal stories or ghost stories, you can find some good reads on here. As well as HEAPS of others.

We’ve also got a whole lot of “If you like…” lists. These are lists that tell you some more good books to read if you like a particular series or author. Some of our lists are Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jacqueline Wilson and Geronimo Stilton. Check out our lists to see if we’ve got some good suggestions for your favourite book or author.

If you’re looking for suggestions for the Science Alive Reading Adventure challenge of the Summertime Reading Club, we’ve made some lists for that too! Check out ALL of our kids lists on our Catalogue.

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The Art of Hybrid Novels, Part One

I am currently immersed in the last few months of work completeing a hybrid illustrated novel. “Monkey Boy” (Scholastic 2014) is not a graphic novel or comic, but a hybrid of traditional novel and comic sections. As an author and illustrator it was a natural format for me to be drawn to as there are things that each art form does better than the other. But there are also things about each art form that really bug me. However, when I started working on this hybrid idea five years ago, I didn’t know that any such thing existed. In those five years (it’s taken me so long because I have too many other books to do) the art form has come a long way. In part one I’ll talk about some comic/novel background and in part two I’ll give you an exclusive glimpse into the world of my junior fiction hybrid novel “Monkey Boy”.

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I first encountered comics in the form of my dad’s Eagle annuals from the 1950s. These were a great source of entertainment when we visited my grandparents orchard in Twyford, Hawkes Bay. The artworks were (and still are) stylistic and sophisticated – especially the fantastic “Dan Dare”. And being post WW2, it was full of guns and violence with nary a hint of PCness. Eagle annuals were also my first exposure to the amazing Ronald Searle. The inside covers sometimes had one of his crazy scenes and, although I have never studied Searle specifically, those images must have had a subconscious influence on my work, especially the busy and crazy pages of my “Looky Book”.

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ABOVE: my “Looky Book” and Searle’s “Fall of St Trinian’s”

When I was about eight I discovered Footrot Flats, the wordless comics of Mordillo and the wonderful world of Asterix. The last has gone on to have a huge affect on my work. Not in style, but in the energy and action, the atmosphere and environment of Albert Uderzo’s art. One of the biggest influences have been the references in Asterix. The series pays homage to everything from popular TV shows, to Shakespeare and latin quotes, to famous events in history and great artworks. For me, this is something very important that keeps a book alive. As you get older you keep going back and discovering new meaning and appreciation of these books. It also helps keep parents enthused when reading over and over and over again – or just passing on their love of books to their children. This is something that I try to do in my work too.

I had a brief interest in 2000AD, but it was at the Auckland University of Technology that I was exposed to the serious world of comics, however, not through the arts faculty, who considered comics and film making to be nothing worthy of a degree in Graphic Design. Maybe that was why I ended up doing both comic and film studies! (contrary little tyke!). It was here I discovered an unknown young comic writer called Neil Gaiman (who has since gone on to become my favourite author), who along with Dave Mckean (the Picasso of comics) practically invented the genre of graphic novels. Gaiman and Mckean didn’t produce cliched superhero stories – but novels, told in comic format. “Mr Punch”, “Violent Cases” and “Signal to Noise” are among the finest examples. Mckean, along with other artists like Kent Williams and Bill Scienkiewicz made comic panels that looked like works of high art and whilst incorporating film editing ideas into their storytelling. Below is a panel from Gaiman & Mckean’s “Signal to Noise” about a film maker trying to make his last great film before cancer takes him (If you can’t read it – the guy in the first panel asks ‘how long have you got to live?’)

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But not all comics are as elegant. Basically I find it’s largely an form where each artform is in competition instead of harmony. Humans are trained to follow the words and they flick over the artworks to get to the next line (unless you have a lovely panel like the one above). Meanwhile, incredible bulging superhero artworks try to outshine everything else on the page. I personally read the two art forms separately. First I read the story and then I go back and look over the pictures – which I find is an unsatisfying combination. I feel bad when I read a comic, as I flick over the pages and worry about the poor artist who spent a week painting one panel which takes me 10 seconds to glance at. There are incredible graphic novels – but like any artform, 90% is fairly average. Then we have a work of real brilliance like Shaun Tan’s “The Arrival”, where the comic format is allowed to unfold, without the need for words. In this book I find myself lingering on the images and it can take 15 minutes just to ‘read’ one page.

So what about novels? I have to laugh when people claim that there is a NEW trend to put illustrations in novels. Pictures in chapter books have been around as long as the printing press. 100 years ago, some of my favourite artists like Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac and Maxfield Parish were doing incredible work on books aimed largely at adults – I have a gorgeous “Romeo and Juliet” illustrated by Rackham a century ago. Today the tradition of novels with chapter illustrations has been largely confined to junior and teen fiction. In the best of children’s books and comics, words and pictures work together to fill in the spaces left by the other artform – but for some reason, as we become more sophisticated and move up to junior fiction and teen novels the relationship between words and pictures gets dumber.

My main problem is that often each artform repeats the other. That may be Ok when reinforcing words with beginner readers, but as a sophisticated art form I find it a bit shallow. In particular, I often find that English and American books have the strong hand of an art director telling the illustrator what to draw (usually something passive and inoffensive to the reader’s imagination). When I have illustrated novels I have pushed hard to inject something new in-between the lines of the text and capture some of the energy and action of the scene.

In the last ten years we’ve had a zeitgeist moment – obviously many artists across the world have come to the same conclusion, myself among them, that putting large illustrated sections into novels is a really cool idea. Hybrid novels are often the work of author illustrators and I’ve been thrilled to discover the variety of forms they can take. There’s Brian Selznick’s “Hugo Cabret” and “Wonderstruck”, where the novel and illustrations are clearly separated, allowing you to really ‘read’ the illustrated panels (as I mentioned with Shaun Tan’s “The Arrival”). What about Jeff Kinney’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” – I love the simplicity of his line drawings and how he makes great use of the two art forms. Often the pictures tell you another story than how our narrator sees things as in this hilarious page from ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dog Days’.

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Chris Wooding’s “Malice” is a great concept when a group of teens are transported into a comic world, with these sections naturally told in comic form (although I think it is let down a bit by the artwork). My own work on “Dinosaur Rescue” with Kyle Mewburn has been a great experience/experiment. There is often a great merging of storytelling with words and pictures each filling in the other’s gaps. One of my favourites hybrids is by one of my best-loved illustrators – Chris Riddell’s “Ottoline” mixes perfectly a sparseness of words which are completed by his magical illustrations. It is something that I believe can only REALLY be achieved to perfection by a single author/illustrator, and there are many others out there.

I’m thrilled that my “Monkey Boy” is being published by Scholastic as they are the natural home of hybrid novels (including several mentioned above). In part two I’m going to talk about my five years work on “Monkey Boy”, and what form I’ve tried to achieve.

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Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis

Meet Timmy Failure.  He’s the founder, president, and CEO of the detective agency he had named after himself: Total Failure Inc., ‘the best detective agency in town, probably the state. Perhaps the nation.’ His business partner (and idiot best friend) is a 1500 pound polar bear, named Total, who is often not very helpful, and gets paid in chicken nuggets. There is no case too big or two small for Total Failure Inc., whether it’s solving the mystery of the missing Halloween candy or discovering who stole his mother’s Segway.  Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made is the first book in the hilarious new series by Stephan Pastis.

Take eleven-year-old Timmy Failure – the clueless, comically self-confident CEO of the best detective agency in town, perhaps even the nation. Add his impressively lazy business partner, a very large polar bear named Total. Throw in the Failuremobile – Timmy s mom s Segway – and what you have is Total Failure, Inc., a global enterprise destined to make Timmy so rich his mother won t have to stress out about the bills anymore. Of course, Timmy’s plan does not include the four-foot-tall female whose name shall not be uttered. And it doesn t include Rollo Tookus, who is so obsessed with getting into “Stanfurd” that he can t carry out a no-brain spy mission.

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made is the funniest book for kids that I’ve read in a long time.  The story by itself is funny, but add in Stephan’s cartoons and you get a book that has you laughing out loud.  The funniest parts of the book are when Timmy is explaining something and then he draws a picture to show you what happened.  There is a part when Timmy visits Molly Moskins’ house and he meets Molly’s cat, Senor Burrito, that made me laugh so hard (you’ll have to read the book to find out why).

One thing I loved about this book was the weird and wacky cast of characters.  First of all you’ve got Timmy, who is the one who is supposed to be looking for clues, but he’s completely clueless himself.  He speaks like a detective and is always trying to convince his mother that his detective agency needs to upgrade their offices or get an administrative assistant to handle the paperwork.  Jimmy’s best friend, Total, doesn’t talk (because he’s a polar bear), but he provides some of the funniest moments of the story through his antics.  Molly Moskins is the weird girl that has a crush on Timmy who has mismatched pupils and a tendancy to use words that do not exist (like ‘wondermarvelously splendiferous’).  Then there is the ‘Evil One,’ Timmy’s nemesis and fellow detective, Corrina Corrina.

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made is only the first book in Stephan Pastis’ new series and I hope there will be many more to come.  I guarantee that you will laugh out loud at least once while reading this book.  I recommend it for anyone 7+ who likes a good laugh and quirky characters.

5 out of 5 stars

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Introducing Timmy Failure and Total Failure Inc.

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis is the funniest book you’ll read this year.  If you like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books you’re sure to love Timmy Failure.  This book should come with a guarantee – “If you don’t laugh out loud at least once we’ll give you your money back!” It’s due out in March and you can watch these very funny videos below to meet Timmy Failure, his friends and his enemies.  There is also a really cool Timmy Failure website you can visit to find out more about the book and the author – www.timmyfailure.com

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If you like Diary of a Wimpy Kid try these books

Have you read all the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and want something like them?  Have you been waiting ages to read them and want something to read while you wait?  Here’s a list of some books and authors you could try:

Try these series too:

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever

Hi Guys.  I have just finished the brand spanking new Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever book.  This book is about Greg Heffley wanting to get money to play net kritterz, but along the way he gets into all sorts of mischief.  Now the police are looking for him and then it starts to snow.  The snow gets up to 2-3 feet high and Greg decides to make a new paper for the holiday bazaar while there is no power all because of Manny!!!!

Highly recommended A++++++++++++.  I was glued to this book. It has 217 pages with awesome pictures.  It took me a day and a half-2 days to read  this awesome book.  Recommended for ages 8- any age.  Now I am so sad the book is finished=( !

By Erin

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