Opening in theaters across the country today, August 3, 2012, is the third Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie entitled Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. My husband and I had planned on going to see the movie this evening after dinner, but sadly my husband isn’t feeling well. We’ll make plans to go and see it next weekend (this weekend we have plans). To be honest with you my husband and I are more excited to see the movie than our kids are. That doesn’t come as a surprise to Jeff Kinney, the author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series. According to Jeff he actually wrote the books for adults, not children.
We have all the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books that have been published so far. My husband and my children always fight to see who gets to read the book first. My husband always wins out.
If you are a fan of the book series you’ll be happy to know that a new book is in the works. It’s entitled Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel. In this new book both Greg and his best friend Rowley are looking for love and dates for the Valentines Day dance. I have a feeling this book is going to be overflowing with laughs.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Jeff about the new movie as well as the Wimpy Kid book series. Jeff was wonderful to talk to and I could have asked him more questions if time allowed for it.
Here are a few questions and answers from our interview.
Q: (From Tracy Lopez @ SpanglishBaby.com): I got my hands on the Spanish version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. And as a parent raising bilingual children, I was really happy to see that the humor had been translated very well. How did you ensure that difficult to translate jokes and phrases in the book weren’t lost in translation?
A: (Mr. Jeff Kinney): That’s a great question. It is actually something that I actually have no control over, no real knowledge of because the books have been translated into 40 languages.
There have been languages that the book’s been translated into that I didn’t even know existed. For example Catalan.
It’s sort of a leap of faith where you hope that the translator is getting it right.
For example, I wanted to write something where Roderick tells Greg that two dollar bills are not real money and that Greg’s two dollar bill collection is just, you know, it’s just basically play money. I had to really think about whether or not I want to put it in my book because that wouldn’t really translate into other languages because other countries probably don’t have rare two dollar bills. So, those are the considerations I’ve been making since it’s been translated.
Q: (From yours truly – ME!): Your books are incredibly popular around my house between my husband and my children. They actually fight over who gets to read them first. Are there any plans for another book in the series past book number seven?
A: (Mr. Jeff Kinney): Yes, I’m literally illustrating book number seven as we speak. And I am planning on continuing the series unless this book kills me.
For a long time I thought that Greg was a literary character, and because of that, he’d have to grow up and get older at some point. And then around the fifth book, I realized that Greg’s really a cartoon character, and because of that, he can live forever.
And so, I don’t want to make any statements about when I’m going to end the series. I hope to keep writing for as long as I have good ideas.
Q: (Ashley @ MomStart.com): A lot of our readers wanted to know if you had any thoughts about ever creating a really strong leading female character outside of the mom?
A: (Mr. Jeff Kinney): That’s a really tough question. It’s very apropos because of the book that I’m writing right now.
In my series, there aren’t many strong female characters because there’s a message to readers that Greg doesn’t understand girls, girls kind of are this amorphous mass of people that are a different species, in a way.
Greg’s world is very insular. Really, he doesn’t even have any other friends besides Rowley that are male.
I found reason to create the character who was a female character as a possible love interest in this book [Dog Days]. And I realized, wow, I’m going to have to give her a personality because I can’t get away with having her be sort of this anonymous character like the other girls in the book.
So she’s got a little bit more story than most of the other female characters.
Q: (Tracy @ SpanglishBaby.com): Jeff, you mentioned that the book’s been translated into 40 languages, and I was just wondering how you feel about that. Are you surprised at the book’s massive success?
A: (Mr. Jeff Kinney): Oh, yes, definitely. Everything that’s happened past 2007 has been like the Truman Show for me. I’m actually sitting with my editor today, and we were just reflecting on all this.
And I can’t believe the book was ever published to begin with. I just thought the format was too unusual.
For the series to be in all these different places all over the world, and to have the opportunity to meet kids in places like Australia and Scotland, it just blows my mind that kids have taken to these books. I thought they were too distinctly American, but it seems like they really enjoy the narrative, and that’s been one of the real surprises to me.
Q: (From yours truly again): When you were growing up, did you have a favorite author or book series that you enjoyed reading?
A: (Mr. Jeff Kinney): I did. I tore through the Judy Blume catalog when I was a kid. I think that they came to me courtesy of my older sister, who was a big reader.
I skipped Are You There, God, It’s Me Margaret, but I read Blubber, Freckle Juice, and Fourth Grade Nothing. Those were my very favorite.
At a certain point, I graduated to fantasy. And my favorite fantasy writer was Piers Anthony with his Xanth series. And then, ultimately, I went to JRR Tolkien, The Good Guy, The Hobbit and stuff like that.
Q: (Ashley @ MomStart.com):Experiencing your books translate into movies, is there a certain character from the series that took you by surprise once they were up on the big screen? And are you really happy with the way it has all come together?
A: (Mr. Jeff Kinney): I think that what I’ve been most surprised by is that I didn’t really understand how important emotion was in film.
In my book, I don’t feel any kind of an obligation to deliver an emotional experience. But, in a movie, if you don’t deliver an emotional experience, then you’ve broken a contract with the viewer. You fail to meet their expectations.
I think that the movie’s very inherently different in that way than the book. In fact, in a way, in my book, I sort of run the other way. When the audience is expecting the story to go in a certain way, I like to pull the rug out from under them and cause some different. In the movies, you can’t do that. It’s just a different medium, and people just experience the stories in a different way.
Q: (Tracy @ SpanglishBaby.com): I understand that Zachary Gordon, who plays the character Greg in the movie, is also the voice of San-San on Ni-Hao Kai-Lan. I was wondering if you had ever heard Zachary speak Mandarin?
A: (Mr. Jeff Kinney): Yes, I think we’ve made him do the voice from time to time. But, I believe, and I could be wrong, that the change in his voice made it impossible for him to continue that job.
Q: (Me again): If Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days does as well as the other movies in this series, are there any plans on making more? And if so, where would you take it?
A: (Mr. Jeff Kinney): That’s a great question. I think there are lots of different ways that we could go with the story. First, the boys are definitely getting older. We could let the stories age with the boys or, perhaps down the line, we could reboot the whole thing.
One of the things we’re doing that I’m very interested in is taking these stories into animation. For example I am really interested in doing a holiday special.
Right now, I don’t know what’s in store in terms of more films in Wimpy Universe. But, we’re open to just about anything.
Q: (Ashley @ MomStart.com): I had another question from our readers – they would like to know which character do you relate to the most in your Wimpy Universe?
A: (Mr. Jeff Kinney): I think I can relate to Greg the most because I have similar flaws in terms of quality and quantity. Howeer, I think that the character that I like the most is Rowley, Greg’s best friend, because Rowley is a pure kid, and he’s not in a rush to grow up.
Q: (Me again – I was very chatty): Did you have any hand in casting each of main characters in these films? I ask because all the actors fit their parts so well that it’s almost like the books are written just for them.
A: (Mr. Jeff Kinney): I wish I could take credit. I played a small part. I reviewed a lot of audition tapes and got to ring in.
I tip my had to the casting agency who did an international search for the characters that they got. They did a great job and I think the casting is the very best part of the movie.
I am so excited to see this movie!
Here is the film’s trailer. Check it out! If you are reading this via e-mail you can find the trailer here, http://youtu.be/EP7HcLwgkQE.
Did you know that you can create your own Wimpy Kid character from the movie Diary of a Wimpy Kid at Wimp Yourself! It’s found on the official Wimpy Kid website, WimpyKid.com. You can also like Wimpy Kid on Facebook and follow on Twitter (@WimpyKidMovie). The official movie hashtag is #WimpyKidDogDays.
Have you seen the movie yet? If you have feel free to let me know your thoughts. If you are fan of the series feel free to leave a comment too. I love it when my readers leave comments.
*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this for the benefit and enjoyment of my site readers. The opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced in any way.