Monday, October 7, 2013

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
217 pages

Greg Heffley continues to chronicle his middle school days in the second installment of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The book opens with Greg trying to downplay his interest in diary writing for the new school year saying, "I guess Mom was pretty proud of herself for making me write in that journal last year, because now she went and bought me another one." Readers can tell that Greg likes writing in his diary, and it's a good thing he does because he is refreshingly candid and hilariously flawed. Greg recalls that he has to keep his diary a secret because "some jerk" would find it and get the wrong impression of him. His older brother Rodrick is the one who finds Greg's diary and punches him. This sets up the highly relatable theme of sibling rivalry in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules.

Greg has a bad summer on the swim team. He gets picked up late by Rodrick in his Loded Diper van and has to avoid getting hit by all the band equipment while sitting in the back. Greg hides out in the bathroom for most of swim practice because he doesn't enjoy the cold water or swimming on a team. When he goes back to school everyone runs away from him and he remembers he has the Cheese Touch from last school year. Greg passes it on to a new kid at school named Jeremy Pindle. Greg has to deal with Rodrick being lazy with household chores such as doing the dishes and they have a lot of arguments in front of their little brother Manny, who is disturbed by them. Greg's Mom and Dad mistakenly believe Manny draws a picture of them two fighting and try to act loving in front of him, but Greg knows Manny drew the picture of him and Rodrick. At school Greg has to endure Rowley's stories about his vacation to South America and worry that Rodrick will reveal an embarrassing event that happened to him over the summer.

Greg's dad takes him to the mall often so he can avoid hearing Rodrick's band practicing in the basement. Greg notes that every time Rodrick has a paper to turn in at school, he manipulates his dad into typing it up for him. During the first few weeks of school Greg pulls a prank on his classmate Chirag Gupta by pretending he's not there. Chirag complains to the Vice Principal and Greg has to apologize to Chirag after his mother finds out. Mrs. Heffley warns Greg that if she catches him lying again he'll be grounded for a month. She introduces a program called "Mom Bucks" to encourage Rodrick and Greg to do household chores and do good deeds. On Career Day Greg fills out a questionnaire and imagines his future counting his money in a pool at his mansion. When he gets the results and sees "clerk" he remarks, "Well, there must be something wrong with the way they set these forms up or something, because I don't know any clerks who are billionaires." Greg's parents go away for the night while Rodrick has the flu. As soon as they leave Rodrick calls all his friends over and throws a big party. Rodrick asks Greg to bring a table upstairs from the basement and gets locked down there. Greg falls asleep in the basement and when he wakes up and goes upstairs the house is trashed. Rodrick tells Greg that if he doesn't help him clean up he'll let out his secret. Greg reluctantly helps clean. They panic when they see "Hi Rodrick" in permanent marker on the bathroom door and decide to replace it with a closet door in the basement. When their parents come home Mr. Heffley inspects the house and doesn't find any proof of the party.

Mrs. Heffley offers to pay Rodrick to teach Greg how to play the drums. Greg recruits Rowley for the drum lessons, but they don't go well because Rodrick is impatient and uninterested. One day while Greg is playing board games at Rowley's house he notices that one of the board games has the same exact play money as "Mom Bucks". Greg takes all of it and figures he has enough money to not have to work in the future. Greg buys Rodrick's old history paper for $20,000 "Mom Bucks" because he didn't have time to write his own paper after counting on it to snow overnight. Greg realizes that Rodrick got an F on the paper and doesn't turn it in. When he comes home he finds out that his mom discovered the stolen "Mom Bucks" stash underneath his mattress and has ended the Mom Bucks program. Rodrick and Greg get in more trouble after Thanksgiving when Mr. Heffley finds a photo of Rodrick's party after developing the pictures on the camera in the living room. Rodrick is grounded for a month and Greg is banned from video games for two weeks. Greg is further punished for setting up Rowley to get injured during a sleepover and is forced to take Rowley's place for the school Talent Show. Greg has to be paired with a first grader named Scotty Douglas for a magic trick act. Greg doesn't put any effort into the tryout and they don't make it in the show. He is slightly relieved, but also embarrassed because they were the only act not to get in. Rodrick's band makes it in the show and they plan to use the tape of their performance to get a recording contract.

Rodrick asks Greg to record his band's performance on the night of the talent show, but Greg refuses to because he doesn't like the way Rodrick has been treating him. Mrs. Heffley records the performance, but it turns out bad because she made a lot of comments over the music. Rodrick and his band then rely on the school's recording and are angry that the cameraman mainly focused on Mrs. Heffley dancing to their performance. Rodrick blames the taping fiasco on Greg and gets revenge by telling all his friends the embarrassing event that happened to Greg over the summer. Greg tells the real story first: While he was visiting his grandfather at a senior citizens' housing named Leisure Towers, he tried to escape from Rodrick after he found his diary. Greg runs into the bathroom intending to rip all the pages out of his diary and flush it down the toilet. As he starts ripping the pages he realizes that he accidently went into the women's restroom. He is trapped in there for over an hour and a half. The women report that there is a "Peeping Tom" in their bathroom and Greg is escorted out by security.

At school the next day Greg is prepared for the worst then is surprised when all the boys come up to him congratulating him. It turns out that the story changed to Greg having snuck into the girls locker room at Crossland High School on purpose. He got nicknamed the "Stealthinator" and became popular in school, though the girls were not happy about what he supposedly did. Rodrick is further ridiculed because the footage of his mother dancing to his band became popular online and he became known as the drummer from the "Dancing Mom" video. Greg extends an olive branch to Rodrick by helping him on his science project that he had to re-do using the scientific method. Although the science experiment Greg helped Rodrick to complete is ludicrous, he feels proud of himself and confidently claims "When Rodrick gets first prize tomorrow and passes Science, I just hope he realizes how lucky he is to have a brother like ME." Greg is willing to put Rodrick's past slights behind him and accept the differences between him and his older brother--i.e. he's better than Rodrick.

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