Friday, December 08, 2017

Wimpy Kid vs. Everything Else

I kept forgetting to bring home a copy of The Getaway. Not shocking, since I was still disappointed by Double Down's lack of any apparent plot. I had been booktalking historical fiction, and since my favorite has always been books written in years past, I had a copy of Henry Reed, Inc., that came home in the same backpack.

The Getaway is probably the best Wimpy Kid yet, and had the most plot. Basically, Greg's parents decided to spend Christmas break at a warm, exotic resort, cost be danged, but when they head off to Isla de Corales, nothing goes right. They have trouble getting on the flight, their luggage gets lost, there are bugs, the father gets ill from the water, the activities are all booked up, and Roderick runs off with a girl instead of hanging at the teen zone with Greg. For most students, who have never traveled to an exotic locale, the details of the trip will be new and interesting (Who knew about so many bugs in these fancy resorts? Makes sense, never thought of it.), and will also make them feel better about not traveling. Greg tries to have adventures and strike out on his own, which causes problems, and his family actually deals fairly well with everything that comes their way. The ending actually had a bit of a twist and closure not usually found in these books.

But I still didn't care for it, even though it read more like Big Nate Sails the Bahamas. I realized why when I read Henry Reed. Fascinatingly, it came out on the same date 59 years ago, and the colors are even similar. (Blues are now very green based, making my huge quilting stash hard to use with new fabric!)

Henry's father is in the diplomatic service, and he's lived all over Europe, but is spending the summer with his pleasant and placid Aunt Mabel and Uncle Al in Grover's Corners near Princeton University. There are only a handful of houses, but the neighbors are all fairly interesting and understanding. Henry even has a barn at his disposal, because his mother inherited it, and uses this to set up his research business. He and neighbor Midge, form a partnership. I adored Midge beyond measure. When asked by Henry "What are you going to put into the business?", she replies "I'll furnish the brains." Henry laughs, but sees her point and takes her on! Accompanied by Agony, the beagle, the two set to researching for fun and profit. There are gentle high jinks all along, and at the end, Midge insists that the business be renamed Reed and Glass (Henry does own the barn), and the two repaint the sign together.

Henry and Midge are both industrious, curious children who are not content to sit and stare at their phones all day, which would have been QUITE boring in 1958. They find clients, do research, earn money, and occupy themselves all day without the interference of adults, although I imagine the well-upholstered Aunt Mabel kept them well furnished with peanut butter sandwiches and cookies, and Uncle Al does come to their rescue in times of need and wonders things like "How did those sheep get in there?" without really needing to know particulars.

Yes, the 1950s had their problems. But Greg Heffley and his family are negative and boring to me, and I don't want to be a part of their world for very long. The fact that my students do, when they could instead be spending time with Henry or Anne or Homer or Laura... it just makes me sad.

7577605For more in-depth review, check out A Book Discussion with Myself. 
Kinney, Jeff. The Getaway (DOAWK #12)
November 7th 2017 by Harry N. Abrams
Purchased copy

Robertson, Keith. Henry Reed, Inc.
November 7th 1958 by Viking Children's Books
Purchased copy


  1. I'm checking out Henry Reed... Thanks for the great suggestion.

  2. Henry Reed sounds great!