Book: Diary of a Wimpy Kid 6: Cabin Fever
Author: Jeff Kinney
Age Range: 8 and up
Cabin Fever is the 6th book in Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. It feels almost superfluous to review it, considering that virtually everyone in the English-speaking world has heard of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. But here are a few thoughts.
The main plotline in Cabin Fever involves Greg Heffley and his family being snowed in and without power right before Christmas. This is a bit of a reprieve for Greg, because the police are apparently after him, following an incident of inadvertent school vandalism. As with the other books in this series, however, Cabin Fever is more incident-driven than plot-driven, so lots of other things are touched on, too, such as:
- Greg's fear that "Santa's Scout" is watching him, poised to keep him from getting presents from Santa (though how a middler schooler would still believe in Santa is left unexplored);
- Anti-bullying campaigns in schools;
- The degree to which Greg's youngest brother, Manny, is spoiled by his mother;
- The absurd lengths to which schools have gone to improve playground safety, due to fear of liability ("So recess is basically like a prison yard")
- Separate (empty) "nut allergies" sections in the cafeteria;
- What happens when the school takes away energy drinks (a black market springs up, of course);
- The computerized pets craze;
- and so on.
To me as an adult reader, it felt like Kinney was skewering too many different things, without anything much really happening. The afore-mentioned main plotline didn't even start until the second half of the book. But I still laughed aloud here and there, and I still think that fans of the series will devour this one as soon as they can get their hands on it.
Here are my two favorite passages:
"See, this is the kind of nonsense I'm dealing with right now. I've seen a lot of movies where a kid my age finds out he's got magical powers and then gets invited to go away to some special school. Well, if I've got an invitation coming, now be the PERFECT time to get it." (Page 175)
"When you're used to having electricity and then all of a sudden it's taken away, you're basically just one step away from being a wild animal. And with no phone or TV, we were totally cut off from the outside world." (Page 198)
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid books have launched a whole sub-genre of journal-like, sketch-illustrated books about elementary and middle school-aged boys (and a few for girls). See, for example, James Patterson's Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life. More importantly, these books have engaged a generation of formerly reluctant readers, showing them that books can be accessible and fun.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid 6: Cabin Fever is perfectly timed for the holiday season, with Santa, holiday bazaars, and a full-scale blizzard. I suspect that it's not the strongest of the series overall. But as long as it keeps kids reading, I am a fan. Recommended for fans of the series, or anyone for whom a cartoon-illustrated, funny, boy-friendly book sounds like just the ticket (age 8 and up).
Publisher: Amulet Books (@AbramsBooks)
Publication Date: November 15, 2011
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
© 2011 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).