I have definitely been consuming this series out of order, reading each as the whims of my 9 year-old sees fit, but I asked for this volume specifically because Jms had been talking about the Dungeons & Dragons analog played in these pages. As I’m a big old roleplaying nerd, I had to see how Jeff Kinney handles the topic, especially since our Wimpy Kid’s mom apparently gets in on the action too (obvi, I also came looking for tips at getting my kid to want to RP with me.)
I was actually super stoked with how our hero Greg Heffley enjoys playing Magick And Monsters, even as his mom interferes in the cutest way possible. Unfortunately, that’s a small, if the best, scene in the book. I was less enthused by most of the rest of this volume, as Greg is a lot meaner than I remember, as are Rodrick and Dad. Since Jms and I were reading this together, with me on the narrative bits and him voicing the illustration dialog bubbles, I kept pausing in our reading to say, “Oh, that’s mean! Greg is being mean. Jms, you shouldn’t ever do that.” This was most egregious with Greg bullying poor Chirag Gupta and then, worse, trying to deflect responsibility on to his mom for it. I’m really glad I read the later books first, as I might not have bothered if the tone of this book set the standard for later installments. Granted, I haven’t even read the first one yet, so perhaps that would have been good enough to overcome my reservations regarding its sequel.
Anyway, Rodrick Rules is mostly about how Rodrick sucks. He’s an awful older brother, and for some weird reason, Greg keeps getting not only left to his mercies but also blamed as an accomplice when Rodrick does something wrong (RP aside, their parents are not the greatest, obvi.) Greg has to keep schtum instead of ratting out his brother because Rodrick has something incriminating on him, and finding out what is the main plot of the book. It’s entertaining enough, but the tone overall is significantly meaner than in the other books of the series that I’ve read, so despite the very cool D&D representation, this has definitely been my least favorite of the Wimpy Kid books I’ve read so far. Tho it did provide me with plenty of opportunities to point out to my kid how not to behave, and underscores how much better Greg behaves in future books, showing that anyone can improve their everyday behavior if they just try. Definitely recommended as a buddy read, to point out teachable moments.
Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney is available from all good booksellers, including
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