Friday, November 23, 2012

Pairing up: The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney

We’re starting a ballroom dancing unit in Phys Ed, and Mrs. Moretta said each of us needed to find a partner.

To be honest with you, I don’t really care who I get paired up with as long as it isn’t Ruby Bird.

As far as I know, Ruby is the only girl who has ever been suspended from our school, and that was for biting a teacher. In fact, the reason Ruby has only one front tooth is because the other one ended up in Mr. Underwood’s elbow. I know if she’s my dance partner, I’ll do SOMETHING to make her mad and end up with her other tooth in MY arm.

But there are a lot more boys in my class this year than girls, so it made sense that not everyone got a partner. But Mrs. Moretta said that EVERYONE had to dance and she started pairing us boys up with ONE ANOTHER. The next thing I knew I was dancing the waltz with Carlos Escalera.

Today Phys Ed was canceled because we had a general assembly during fourth period. I have to admit I was a little disappointed, because believe it or not, me and Carlos have actually been getting the hang of the meringue'.

And Greg is going to need those cool moves. The subject of that assembly is the seventh-grade Valentine’s Dance, and it’s suddenly a serious mission to ask a girl to the dance. Greg scrambles for a socially acceptable date (i.e., one that isn’t Ruby Bird or Carlos) without, like, actually asking a girl in person. He decides he needs a minion, a wing man, as he puts it, to do the actual asking, and taps his sidekick Rowly for the job. But when Rowly strikes out as Minister of Romance, Greg fears he’s going to be one of those left-out lonely guys.

But then a surprise epidemic of chicken pox (who ever gets those anymore?) sweeps the seventh grade and some girls are left dateless. It’s game on for girlfriends all over again, and when Abigail Brown agrees to go with Greg and Rowly as “a group of friends,” the dance looks like a sure thing. With a new, hand-me-down suit from big brother Rodrick, his stash of cash to pay for dinner out, and Rowly’s dad down as designated limo driver for the evening, it’s a date!

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, everything (except the last dance) does, in Jeff Kinney’s latest installment in his best-selling series, The Third Wheel (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 7) (Abrams Books, 2012). It’s another wry walk through the Wonder Years with the world’s most famous wimpy kid! As Publishers Weekly puts it, ”Seven books into the bestselling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Kinney isn't messing with a good thing, and he continues to mine middle-school life for comedic gold.”

And if readers just can’t get too much middle-school mirth, (and from their sales, that’s not happening) there’s always Greg’s literary cousin, Lincoln Pierce’s latest top-selling Big Nate Makes the Grade (Big Nate Comic Compilations) (Andrews McMeel, 2012) or James Patterson’s latest Middle School: Get Me out of Here! (Little, Brown, 2012) (See my review here.)

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