Amulet Books
"Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel" by Jeff Kinney is the seventh installment in the popular middle reader series.

THE DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: The Third Wheel,” by Jeff Kinney, Amulet Books, $13.95, 217 pages (f) (ages 7 and up)

“The Wimpy Kid” is on top. Again! For weeks the seventh adventure of Greg Heffley and his adolescent buddies has topped national best-sellers lists.

In “The Third Wheel,” Greg is confronted with a new dilemma, finding a date for the seventh-grade Valentine's Day dance. His attempts, with thoroughly expected clumsiness, end when he and Rowley go with the same girl. Greg, being the third wheel, is left out cold, except for having to pay restaurant expenses for the after-dance dinner.

This installment of the popular the Wimpy Kid portrays coming-of-age friends in middle school where Rowley runs for student council, the science class learns to dissect frogs and boys plan a fundraiser to buy “quality” toilet paper for the rest rooms. (Readers can count on bathroom and underwear jokes as part of the Wimpy Kid humor.)

Greg has the intent of doing the right thing, but something always comes up to undermine his efforts, like starting a failing detective agency or a baby-sitting business and finding himself locked in the laundry room by the child he’s tending.

Greg’s family adds to the zaniness with “no-clue” parents and a younger brother who has a circle of imaginary friends. In “The Third Wheel,” Greg’s deadbeat uncle comes to stay, with a get-rich scheme, resulting in a strain on the whole family.

The Wimpy Kid series, a blend of prose and graphic art that resembles diary entries, is the brainchild of author Jeff Kinney, an online game developer who brings to life the witty trials and tribulations in the manner of speaking during boys’ early-teen years. Some critics deride Greg's lying, manipulation and consistent reference to bathroom humor, which could reflect bantering from teen readers. The text is deliberately easy reading for young readers, however the content is built around middle school activities.

With more than 75 million copies in print in 35 languages, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series also appears as a “Do It Yourself Book,” “Movie Diary,” “Dog Days DVD” and a 2013 calendar. Three Wimpy Kid feature films have been released with more to follow.

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