Jms really wanted to read this installment of the Diary Of A Wimpy Kid series together, and I was happy to continue the sports theme here and oblige! I’m actually really glad we got a chance to, and for more reasons than just one.
In Big Shot, our hero Greg Heffley details his various disastrous experiences with sports in middle school. There’s a delightful all-school showdown involving Field Day, as well as an ill-fated attempt by Greg’s dad to bring him to a grown-ups-only gym. Over the course of the series, Frank has displayed the really bad habit of leaving Greg to his own devices, which usually backfires on Frank more spectacularly than on Greg. You’d think Frank would have learned his lesson after their only visit to a football game together, but Greg certainly inherits his cluelessness from someone!
Alas that he didn’t inherit his mother’s athleticism. Some of Susan’s fondest memories of middle school involve her time on the basketball team, as she never tires of telling Greg. It isn’t just about the sports, tho: Susan genuinely believes that being on an athletic team helps build character, and she’s not entirely wrong. When Greg somehow muddles his way onto a school basketball team, she gets really excited, leading to the hapless but highly entertaining series of events chronicled in these pages.
(My kid also pointed out to me how each book has the same number of pages, in keeping with the conceit of Greg filling out a standard notebook for each of his adventures.)
This was a highly entertaining installment of the series, especially for a person like myself whose relationships with sports throughout my lifetime has peaked and troughed depending on circumstance. I wasn’t super athletic till I became old enough to wander unsupervised around my neighborhood, biking and walking and eventually getting decent at badminton with my neighborhood pals. I had an amazing time as part of my high school’s softball team (I played third base) and fell in love with watching soccer in college. As a parent now myself, I enjoy working on both soccer and softball drills with my kids. So I totally understand where Greg’s parents are coming from, even if I think their methods are characteristically over the top.
That said, my greatest enjoyment in reading this book with my eldest came from explaining all the sports terms to him. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a word nerd or if it’s because I really do enjoy watching sports — most likely a happy union of the two — but I was so glad to be able to discuss all these terms with my kid and break down their origins for him. It felt like a genuine bonding moment for us, and hopefully encourages him to view sports as something he might actually start caring about in future.
Big Shot (Diary Of A Wimpy Kid #16) by Jeff Kinney was published October 26 2021 by Harry N Abrams and is available from all good booksellers, including