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I Would Never Punch the Wimpy Kid

As you know I'm a decent sized blog.  Lots of bloggers get invited to free movies or they get free products to review and stuff like that.  I should probably get invited to lots of fun events so that I'll promote them and tell all my readers to buy cool stuff.  However, I never get invited.  Really.  Never.  Especially if it's anything kid-friendly.  It's to be expected, though.  I've made a name for myself as that woman who drops the f-bomb and ridicules more brands than I endorse.  Kid-friendly companies especially can't risk coming near me.  I understand.


That is why I was excited by an email I received this week.  I received an email from the public relations company representing Jeff Kinney.  Does that name sound familiar?  Well, if you have a kid between the ages of 5 and 13 your kid probably knows his name because he is the creator of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.


The newest book in his popular series is The Third Wheel and it hit the bookstores on November 13.  Jeff and his team are pulling out all the stops to promote this book with "The Third Wheel Book Tour" where he is traveling across the country in a huge bus and hosting dance parties to celebrate the book release.

And somehow yours truly got on the guest list.  That's right.  The email invited me to a private meet and greet session with Jeff where we could ask questions, take pictures and get his autograph.  I about crapped my pants.  Then I told Gomer and he about crapped his.

You see, in my house there are a few things that are sacred:  Legos, American Girl dolls and Wimpy Kid.  The Wimpy Kid books are some of the first books Gomer ever read.  They are the only books he reads again and again.  These books have inspired more creativity out of Gomer than anything else.  He will spend hours reading the books and then he loves to tell us the funny stories from the books and then he spends a few more hours carefully copying the pictures.  (Don't worry, they're for his own use, Mr. Kinney and your legal team, I promise.)

I quickly replied that of course the Punch family would be honored to attend such an event and then I held my breath.  I kept waiting for someone to contact me and tell me there had been a horrible mistake and I was no longer invited.  That call never came.  Phew!

The morning of the event I was listening to my favorite radio station KCUR and I heard that they were going to interview Jeff Kinney in the upcoming hour.  The Hubs and I sat down to listen.  What an amazing story Jeff Kinney has.  Let me just give you the short version:  He had a popular website where he'd feature his Wimpy Kid stories.  In the meantime, he worked on his manuscript for the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid book for almost eight years and then finally he went to Comicon and met a publisher.  He showed him his work and immediately the publisher signed him up and they put out the first book.  It hit the New York Times Bestseller's List and has never left.  Jeff Kinney has sold 83 million copies of his books and has still kept his day job as an online game developer and designer.  He created the famous children's website Poptropica.com - another Gomer favorite.

One of the points Jeff made during his interview was that he always says "Yes" to a book purchase because it encourages a love of reading in his sons.  I couldn't agree more - that's why Gomer owns all of the Wimpy Kid books.

I had to let Jeff know that Gomer is his biggest fan, so of course I tweeted KCUR while he was on and they read my tweet on the air.  Jeff got a little nervous I was going to punch him in the throat.  As if!  Gomer would kill me!

After listening to the radio show I was even more pumped up to meet him.  We picked up the kids from school and headed down to the book signing.  We got there and met a few other bloggers while we waited for Jeff to arrive.  We were greeted by Jason, the publicist who is traveling with Jeff.  Jason told us that there wasn't much time, but we could hurry and meet Jeff on his giant tour bus.  We ran (really, we ran - Jason is fast) out of the building and across the street to a giant rock star tour bus where we all crammed inside.

Can you imagine pulling into a rest stop and seeing this in the parking lot?  I wonder how many autographs Jeff Kinney will have to give in bathrooms on his tour.
Poor Jeff Kinney let us invade his personal space.  He was a gracious host to all of us.  He is so down to earth and so friendly to the kids (and parents).  We literally ogled him for a good five minutes without anyone saying anything except "Hi" and/or "Love your books."  Finally when he realized that we were all a bit starstruck, he got things rolling when he asked if any of us had any questions (the Hubs and I, of course did - but nothing with any journalistic integrity so they don't bear repeating here) and if he could sign our books while we toured his bus (a couple of the kids mentioned the highlight of the bus was the bathroom, but I didn't get to see it).  After he kindly answered all of our questions and inquired about our blogs he was whisked away to greet 2,000 excited kids who had all purchased tickets and books to meet him.

Besides the book signing there was also a party in the basement of the venue.  The publisher hired a DJ and provided refreshments.  I heard one passerby exclaim that it looked like a "rave."  Obviously that yahoo has never been to a rave.  It was clearly a middle school dance that Greg Heffley would attend.  There was a drawing contest where kids competed to draw their favorite characters and then were judged by the audience.  Thank goodness Gomer and Adolpha have been practicing for so long, because they both aced their competition and won t-shirts (it would not have been pretty in our house if only one kid won a shirt).

Three years of Gomer practicing his "Greg" finally paid off!
The party was a blast and the book tour seems like a lot of fun.  How could it not be?  Rolling across country in style in a custom bus, greeting 2,000 adoring fans, dancing up a storm under a disco ball and then doing it all again tomorrow in another town?

It got me thinking.  My story is not so different from Jeff Kinney's.  We're both humorists who found our audience online first.  He's sold 83 million books.  I've sold . . . a percentage of that.  He's on the New York Times Bestseller's List.  I'm on an Amazon Bestseller's List for a particular genre slash subcategory slash niche.  He's traveling on a really exciting book tour.  I have not done a book tour, but that doesn't mean I haven't planned it already though.

First - no kids allowed, of course.  I would roll up in my Honda minivan (surely Honda would let me borrow one again for my book tour).  I would be greeted by let's say 50 adoring fans and a couple of people who saw a line forming and just got on it thinking there might be free stuff at the other end.  We would rent a room at a Holiday Inn near an airport (because those are usually cheaper).  There would be plenty of boxed wine for everyone and plastic wine glasses.  I would rent a couple of those coin operated massage chairs.  There wouldn't be a DJ, because loud music bothers me, but I would like to have "Magic Mike" playing on a big screen at one end of the room - with the sound off, of course.  How could that not be fun?  Eh, a girl can dream, right?

I want to thank LKPR, Inc. and Jeff Kinney for including the Punch family in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid festivities.  We had a great time meeting Jeff Kinney and spending some quality one on one time with him.  It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for my kids and they will always remember that.

I really admire how hard Jeff and his team are working to promote this book and I know their days can be grueling.  I was afraid that Jeff would be too busy working and he might forget to bring his wife a nice present after all his time on the road.  Luckily, I took care of that.  As we left the bus, I left two copies of my book Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat with Jason.  Jeff is welcome to read it too, but it's really a gift for Julie Kinney.  I hope she likes it!

Gomer is already three quarters of the way through the book and he'll be doing a guest post in the next few weeks with his review of the book.  If you have a Wimpy Kid fan and you can attend one of the book signing events in your area, I highly recommend it!

If you're interested in purchasing The Third Wheel click here.

20 comments:

  1. I heard the interview and saw the smaller bus parked outside Unity Temple last night before dinner. I've never heard of those books...guess I should get with the program!

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  2. This is so awesome! Jeff Kinney is such a kind person--when the first movie came out, the school that I worked at at the time won the privilege of having the movie premier at our school. So Jeff Kinney, the two best buds in the movie, the movie producer all came to our school. They turned the gym into a movie theater and had ushers dressed in tuxedos to give the kids bags of popcorn and movie posters, etc. The younger kids got to have an assembly with Jeff Kinney who talked to them about how he got started and drew some things for them. He signed all of the teachers' books who brought them in, as well as kids' books. Hes a lovely person--so glad you all were able to meet him!!

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  3. I would totally come to your book tour event. I can do you one better, I'll bring the wine with screw tops instead! Cause really, who has time for corks? I suggest maybe a Magic Mike drinking game... maybe a drink for every pelvic thrust, and two drinks for every time Steve Nash messes up a step in the back row?

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    1. I'm sorry I meant KEVIN Nash..You know Tarzan who couldn't even do the jumping jacks!

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  4. how awesome! the Mister and I actually read the wimpy kid books in spanish as we were living in Mexico! so funny.

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  5. Anonymous11:41

    Speaking of the minivan - the hubs got hit recently and took his car in to be fixed yesterday. He had called the rental company in advance and booked a midsize, but when he arrived, all they had available was a minivan. Sweet! He's cruising the streets of Olathe in a black Dodge caravan with slidely doors for the next week. The kids are in LOVE and have already asked when we can get one to keep... :)

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  6. pam b12:10

    I will admit that I am not a Wimpy Kid lover. My kids have read some of the books, and pre-ordered the new one from Scholastic book club. Yes, my son is reading. Yes, it's hard to find books he likes. But, frankly, I don't consider Wimpy Kid to be reading, reading, if you know what I mean. It's a gateway book that will hopefully instill the habits of reading, but my son isn't increasing his vocabulary or learning many new reading skills. It's in the category of 'fun' books, like graphic novels, in our house. We read 'fun' books, too, I'm not an ogre. The event sounds fun, and I would totally attend one in my area. But, when people talk about how wonderful these books are, I'm not in agreement.

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  7. My 7 year old adores these books!! I didn't know a new one was coming out! He will be so excited!! :D

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  8. What a neat experience and how thrilling for your kids! I'm glad they asked you! My little girl is only 19 months, but I'm already looking forward to these books, and especially American Girl. I recently bought an AG outfit for my friend's daughter and it was so hard not to keep it for myself!

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  9. He's at the Mall of America tonight!

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  10. Hooray! Guest post from Gomer!

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  11. Aw man! You are so lucky!!
    BTW - Lego's, Am Girl dolls and Wimpy Kid reign in my Momfia too.

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  12. So jealous! And wait...he's at the Mall of America tonight! Too bad I just now found out this information!! My son has read these books over and over as well and loves to read me the parts we both find so funny!!!

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  13. mandyh19:30

    I am actually taking my son to a signing on Saturday...he is counting down the days! We got the book today and it has already been read cover to cover!

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  14. Cool Jen! Just cool! Is that an actual picture of Gomer? My daughter is past 6 and a half, I wonder if these may be in her range...? Some of my friends kids adore them.
    Devan

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  15. For me, the best part of Jeff's success is that he is originally from Rhode Island! Represent, "Little Rhody"!

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  16. My children are huge Wimpy Kid fans. My son looking over my shoulder and nodded that yes -- indeed that is the new book.

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  17. Thanks for the heads up Jen! My kids and I made it to the book signing in Cincinnati last night. Nerdiest rave I've ever been to, in a good way. And we got all of 15 seconds with Jeff Kinney, so I kind of wanted to punch all the VIP's walking around, but I didn't. He's like a rock star for kids, tour bus and all.

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  18. So, I am very disappointed with this book. Between this blog, readers comments, a few other things I have read and my own interest, we borrowed the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid book from the library this weekend for my 6yr old first grader. His reading skill is slightly advanced for his age/grade and I was excited about a series he could get into. First off, I had a hard time finding it in the library because instead of being housed with the children's books, it was in the Intermediate section (which apparently in our area is suggested reading for 5th-6th graders). I was a little surprised by that but got the book anyway. Within the first couple of pages I became concerned. The words 'stupid', 'moron', and suggestions about not letting a kid sit next to you at school were made almost immediately. The kid goes on to say his best friend is stupid because his parents control is video game usage, he talks about lying to his parents and how he might not be friends with his best friend much longer because he still says 'come over to play' instead of 'hang out'.
    All of this within the first couple of pages. We only made it 26 pages in before I suggested we take a break.
    Maybe my 1st grader is a bit naive, but at this point I dont think those things cross his mind. Stupid is still a bad word and he is taught to accept all people and not judge them based on their looks or 'smarts'. I want him to make lasting friendships, and not toss those friendships aside based on something trivial like that friend isnt 'cool' enough!
    Maybe Im being crazy, but I do NOT see this as appropriate reading material for a 6yr old. These negative things/thoughts/situations will come along in his life soon enough, I understand that, I really do, but I do not want to introduce him to it sooner than it comes along naturally.
    So back to the library this book will go and we will try it again in a couple of years when my son is ready emotionally....

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  19. When I was somewhere between 10-12 Jeff was publishing Wimpy Kid on poptropica, if I remember correctly the only way I could find the link to it was it would pop up when you lost a game, made losing pretty great if I'm completely honest, I've only read the first one but it's a great book.

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