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Book Review

This review was created by the editorial staff at Thriving Family magazine

This realistic, humor book by Jeff Kinney is the sixth in the " Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series published by Amulet Books, an imprint of Harry N. Abrams Inc.

Cabin Fever is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

In his sixth cartoon-filled diary, middle schooler Greg Heffley prepares for the holidays and endures winter snowstorms. He writes about his family's Christmas traditions, such as the creepy stuffed elf that sits on the mantle and supposedly reports everyone's behavior to Santa. Greg talks about his school's extreme measures to prevent bullying and injury. The school removes all playground equipment and forbids toys. The kids are no longer allowed to run at recess, but they're also banned from sitting because it isn't active.

Greg describes his efforts to take care of something other than himself. He had grown to love the doll his mom bought him in preparation for his new little brother. Then the doll vanished. He moves on to fulfilling every desire of his virtual pet Chihuahua, buying it mansions, pools and outfits, until he runs out of money. He recalls different fundraisers he's seen in the past and decides to shovel snow to support what Mom calls his Net Kritterz "habit." He ends up icing over driveways in his efforts to speed up the shoveling process. Dad makes him spend more money than he's earned to buy rock salt to fix the problem.

Greg's school tries to create a healthier lunch program and forbids energy drinks. Many of Greg's classmates go through withdrawals and buy the drinks on the school's black market. Greg talks about his school's gift exchanges and holiday bazaars. He and Rowley decide to have their own holiday bazaar to raise money, but end up staining a school wall when their neon announcement signs get wet in the rain. The boys lie low as police look for the vandals who damaged the school. Rowley inadvertently rats out Greg, who gets stuck cleaning the walls alone.

A blizzard strands Greg, his brothers and his mom in the house for several days while Dad is "trapped" at a nice hotel. The basement floods, they nearly run out of food, and they experience what they believe to be a power outage in freezing conditions. A few days later, they learn Greg's younger brother, Manny, has flipped all the breaker switches except for the one to his own room.

Greg puts his name on the Giving Tree at church, asking for a sponsor to leave money for him under the recycling bin. He shovels the walk at church in a ski mask to dig out the bin but is disappointed to find no one has left cash. The newspaper later reports that a mysterious do-gooder cleared the church parking lot, making it possible for the soup kitchen to open.

Christian Beliefs

Greg's family attends church regularly. Rowley goes with them once and is confused about when to stand, sit and kneel. He thinks it's funny that congregants say "Peas be with you" to one another before they leave. Another time, the family attends the folk service. Mom urges Rodrick to join the band. He imagines himself as a drummer but gets stuck playing maracas. Greg says he, too, was duped into joining a church-related activity once when he signed up for the pre-teen club. Since they were lax on their age requirements, the club ended up being full of little kids.

Greg puts his name on the Giving Tree for needy families, asking that someone leave money for him under the recycling bin behind the church. He pities people whose birthdays are too close to Christmas because sometimes they don't get separate gifts. He says it's probably been happening for thousands of years. He includes a cartoon drawing of the apostles giving a wrapped package to Jesus and telling Him it's both a birthday and a Christmas gift.

Other Belief Systems

None

Authority Roles

Dad is patient with Greg, even when the boy does thoughtless or destructive things like using steel wool to clean their new sports car. He often scolds Greg for using poor judgment. Greg's stay-at-home mom gives Greg fundraising ideas and tries to help him solve his problems.

Profanity/Violence

None

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

None

Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

  • What do Greg and Rowley accidentally do that makes them fear the police?
  • When Greg gets caught, why doesn't he get Rowley in trouble, too?
  • When have you kept a secret because you thought the truth might get you in trouble?
  • When have you kept a secret because you thought the truth might get someone else in trouble?
  • Looking back on your secret keeping, would you have done the same thing given the outcome?

  • What are some of Greg's big ideas in this book?

  • Why do they usually fail?
  • If you knew Greg, what would you suggest he do to use his creativity in a more productive way?
  • To whom could he go for help and advice?

  • What does Greg's school do to ensure students are safe from bullying and injury?

  • In what ways are these plans helpful?
  • In what ways do they keep kids from being kids?
  • Think about some of the rules you have at home and at school.
  • Which ones are good for you?
  • Which don't seem to work or have problems? Explain.

Additional Comments/Notes

Immodesty: The book includes some mild bathroom humor and a few non-graphic cartoon drawings of Greg sitting on the toilet or standing in his underwear.


This review is brought to you by Focus on the Family, a donor-based ministry. Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

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