by Jeff Kinney,
reviewed by Mia Macrossan
This is the second title in a new series by Kinney, the author of the popular Diary of A Wimpy Kid series, the first being Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson’s Journal.
In this second instalment Rowley is writing an epic adventure about Roland and his best friend, Garg the barbarian, who embark on a dangerous quest to rescue Roland’s mum who has been kidnapped by the White Warlock.
As he finishes each chapter of his story Rowley shows it to his best friend Greg who gives helpful comments on how to improve the story – such as you need more action, danger and excitement, you need a girl character, no one will read a book about a boy wizard, ( ha ha J K Rowling) you have to give your magical sword a name – Rowley calls it Jeremy – and more.
Greg is very aware of the commercial possibilities of a good fantasy. He likes Garg because he can be an action figure, he is adept at suggesting tie -ins for fast food deals, amusement rides, toys, t-shirts and the like. This meta story is very funny as well as providing a running commentary on the perils and pitfalls of story writing. Rowley is a nice kid enjoying the writing process, trying, through his character Roland to promote recycling, being kind, anti-bullying, being a good listener, a team player.
Greg is much more interested in the money to be made from a more commercial and generic product. He doesn’t like Rowley’s suggestion for a narwhal on the cover as he thinks it is too young. He wants a sea horse as it is cool and more likely to appeal to older readers. He dismisses Rowley’s objection that there are no sea horses in the story…now look at the cover of the book. It is this attention to detail that make this quite complex story a delight to read.
The illustrations are trademark Kinney – plentiful, expressive and very funny. This is a perfect book for beginning readers who will enjoy Roland and Garg’s adventures. Anyone older will also lap it up and any teacher with a grain of sense will use it to teach the elements of great story writing.
Puffin Books 2020