Gavin O’Neil hadn’t read the new and very popular “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books before meeting their author Monday morning. Obviously the author, Jeff Kinney, made a good impression on the 11-year-old Gibbons Elementary School student.
Gavin O’Neil hadn’t read the new and very popular “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books before meeting their author Monday morning.
Obviously the author, Jeff Kinney, made a good impression on the 11-year-old Gibbons Elementary School student.
“I liked how he set up (the presentation). He let a lot of kids talk and ask questions,” said O’Neil. “It was cool.”As for the best selling books, O’Neil was equally clear. “I am definitely reading them now,” he said.
Dylan Freitas also wasn’t yet a fan of Kinney’s cartoon style novels.
The 11-year-old South Elementary School student liked the presentation and was very impressed that the author lives locally.
“It makes me want to read the books more because he is from Massachusetts,” said Freitas.
Kinney is the author of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules. A third installment in the five-part series, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: the Last Straw,” is due out in January 2009.
A Plainville resident, Kinney addressed more than 200 5th grade students from throughout Stoughton at the special assembly early this week at the South Elementary School.
Using a game show series format, Kinney allowed the students to either ask a question or pick a topic for him to discuss.Response after response, Kinney, 37, captivated the audience.
When asked what inspired him to write the comedic stories about a young boy named Greg Heffley, Kinney told the crowd that as a child, he always enjoyed listening to grownups talk about their childhoods.
“I wanted to write a book about my own childhood,” said Kinney.
He said he didn’t want the book to be based on a heroic character, but rather on someone who was real and made mistakes.
“I certainly had my wimpy moments … a lot of my most embarrassing moments made their way into these books,” said Kinney, who grew up in southern Maryland and has lived in Massachusetts since 1995.
The kids seemed intrigued to learn Kinney did not set out to be an author. Instead, he aspired to be a newspaper cartoonist. When that didn’t work out, he started penning ideas for his book. After six years of writing and illustrating, he started publishing daily installments on line at Funbrain.com. Almost instantly, the “Wimpy Kid” installments were a hit. To date, the online version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid has had more than 50 million visits and is typically read by more than 100,000 kids daily.
Another fact Kinney revealed was that the “Wimpy Kid” stories were originally written to be read by adults.
“It was a big surprise to me when the publisher said (the books) would be great for kids,” said Kinney.
After answering countless questions, Kinney took the time to autograph dozens of books.
“His presentation was exciting and engaging. He relates so well to the kids,” said South School Principal Mark Chitty. “We were thrilled he came.”
Credit for the appearance was given to a parent at the South School. Barbara Marshall, the mother of a 5th grade student, is a District Manager for Barnes & Noble. When her son asked her to buy the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” book, she said she knew it must be good.
“He was all excited about it, so I knew it was a big deal,” said Marshall.
Kinney had done signings at several Barnes & Noble stores in the area and crowd response was very good, said Marshall.
“He is going to be hot real fast. I knew he was local, so I wanted to get him in here,” said Marshall.
It was an extra special opportunity for the students of Stoughton because Kinney, a father of two young children and a full-time design director for a Boston-based Internet publishing company, does not regularly visit schools.
Jacob Ben David, a fan of the books, thought the experience of meeting Kinney was great.
“I like how he draws the pictures (for the books) and all the different expressions the characters have,” said Ben David, 11, a South School student.
Elise Weinstein, a 5th grader at the Hansen Elementary School, is in the middle of reading the first “Wimpy Kid” book. She can’t wait to finish and move onto the second one.
“It was great to meet him and get to learn more about him and why he writes these types of stories,” said Weinstein, 11. “I loved it. He is one of my favorite authors.”
For more information on the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books, check out Jeff Kinney’s website at www.wimpykid.com.