The Wimpy Standard

The first book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, by Jeff Kinney, has enjoyed such popularity as to have been followed with sequels – and it’s own bus. When a book hits the jackpot of this kind of success (who hasn’t heard of the series?) it is, by nature, followed with others riding the coattails of that success.
By now, these jackets (designed by Chad Beckerman) are familiar to most of you (published Amulet #1-2007, #2-2008, #3-2009).

Wimpy - Wimpy 1Wimpy - Wimpy 2Wimpy - Wimby 3

So here are some of the 2009 crop of tail-riders. Dork Diaries (trailer & blog) by Rachel Renee Russell (Simon & Schuster 2009), My Unwilling Witch Goes to Ballet School by Hiawyn Oram (Little Brown 2009), Max Quigley: Technically Not a Bully by James Roy (Houghton Mifflin 2009), and Diary of a Stinky Dead Kid by David Gerrold (Papercutz 2009).

1-Diary 1.jpt1-Diary4

1-Diary 21-Diary 3

What makes them seem like direct imitators is the layout. Many diary books have hand-scrawled text. What they don’t always have is a square (or rectangular) drawing taped (or stuck to?) the bottom third of the cover. Of course the last one here is obviously a spoof. That may make it a little different from the other three – books that have no direct connection to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.

The diary cover is certainly popular – and appropos for the many books that are written as diaries. This group below are similar.
From Butt to Booty (Gert Garibaldi’s Rants & Raves #2) by Amber Kizer (Delacorte May 2010), Geek Chic by Margie Palatini (HarperCollins 2008), Heart to Heart with Mallory by Laurie Friedman (Lerner 2007), Rissa Bartholomew’s Declaration of Independence by Lynda B. Comerford (Scholastic 2009), My Best Friend, the Atlantic Ocean… by Jane Harrington (Lerner 2008), and My Secret War Diary, by Flossy Albright by Marcia Williams (Candlewick 2008).



The latest Wimpy Kid book is due out in October:

Wimpy - Wimpy 4

Greg Heffley’s Journal (DWK #1): Greg records his sixth grade experiences in a middle school where he and his best friend, Rowley, undersized weaklings amid boys who need to shave twice daily, hope just to survive, but when Rowley grows more popular, Greg must take drastic measures to save their friendship.
Rodrick Rules (DWK #2):Greg Heffley tells about his summer vacation and his attempts to steer clear of trouble when he returns to middle school and tries to keep his older brother Rodrick from telling everyone about Greg’s most humiliating experience of the summer.
Last Straw (DWK #3): Middle-schooler Greg Heffley nimbly sidesteps his father’s attempts to change Greg’s wimpy ways until his father threatens to send him to military school.
Dog Days (DWK #4): In the latest diary of middle-schooler Greg Heffley, he records his attempts to spend his summer vacation sensibly indoors playing video games and watching television, despite his mother’s other ideas.
Dork Diaries: Fourteen-year-old Nikki Maxwell writes in her diary of her struggle to be popular at her exclusive new private school, then of finding her place after she gives up on being part of the elite group. Ages 9-13. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
My Unwilling Witch: Rumblewick, a Highly Qualified Witch’s Cat, records in his diary all the problems he has when his reluctant young witch decides she would rather go to ballet school on the Other Side than engage in proper witch behavior. Ages 7-12. Reviews 1, 2, 3.
Max Quigley: After playing a prank on one of his “geeky” classmates, sixth-grader Max Quigley’s punishment is to be tutored by him. Ages 8-12. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Diary of a Stinky Dead Kid: The Vault-Keeper, the Old Witch, and the Crypt-Keeper share their takes on three popular stories and video games, including “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” “Guitar Hero,” and “Twilight.” Ages 10-14.
From Butt to Booty: Ages 12+
Geek Chic: Eleven-year-old Zoey is suffering the pains of entering the sixth grade, stressing over things such as having a bad hair day and finding a place at the primo lunch table. Ages 8-11. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4.
Heart-to-Heart with Mallory: Nine-year-old Mallory turns to her diary to sort through her emotions when she finds out she has a secret admirer and her two best friends’ parents may be getting engaged. Ages 7-10.
Rissa Bartholomew: Having told off all of her old friends at her eleventh birthday party, Rissa starts middle school determined to make new friends while being herself, not simply being part of a “herd.” Ages 8-12. Reviews 1.
My Best Friend… Giulio: As a class assignment, Delia keeps a journal and records her life and her fantasies about the Italian exchange student Giulio, who also happens to be Brady’s boyfriend. And, oh, by the way, Brady is Delia’s best friend. Ages 11-14.
My Secret War Diary: When nine-year-old Flossie starts her diary and scrapbook on July 27, 1939, her mother has already died and her father has just joined the Dorsetshire Regiment. The Second World War ends for Flossie on August 14, 1945, when her father comes home. Ages . Reviews 1, 2, 3.

UPDATE: The Australian cover (and title) of Max Quigley

6 Responses to “The Wimpy Standard”

  1. See, I wish they wouldn’t DO this! I know that the Wimpy Kid series is amazing, but not every book deserves that same treatment! At least the Amber Kizer book actually is relevant; in the first one, there was indeed a journal which was taped over with duct tape so that it looked less goofy. It’s hard to believe, in these days of electronic everything, that ALL of those books contain handwritten diary/journal entries.


  2. Just My 2 Cents Says:

    Your website features numerous books with covers that are IDENTICAL photographs and/or mirror images. However, the book covers that look nothing alike but/for artwork on the lower 1/3 are labeled “the direct imitators.” Go figure…

    • I’m confused about what you are saying… there are no identical photos here… and it is the middle set that I refer to as “direct imitators.” Care to clarify?

  3. “Max Quigley” was first published in Australia at precisely the same time as the first Wimpy Kid book, so to call it a “tail-rider” or tagged as an “imitator” is way off-mark. Furthermore, Tanita says: “It’s hard to believe, in these days of electronic everything, that ALL of those books contain handwritten diary/journal entries.” Well, in fact they don’t. Max Quigley is neither handwritten, nor is it a diary/journal format.

    Sorry to be a grump, but I find it’s best to actually read books before you review them.

    • Diary of a Wimpy Kid was first released in April 2007. From what I can determine your book was published as “Problem Child” in Australia in 2007. With a different cover.
      This blog posting talks about the COVER of the book as a tail rider, not the book itself. “Max Quigley” came out in the U.S. two years later, when the Wimpy Kid covers were already well established. I’m betting that this cover was designed later, when preparing the book (and changing the title) for the American market. At that time, Wimpy Kid had already grabbed a market share. It’s certainly not unusual for a publisher to want to ride those coattails. That’s what this post is about.

  4. I do trust all of the ideas you have presented to your post. They’re very convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are very short for beginners. May you please prolong them a bit from subsequent time? Thanks for the post.

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