Kinney, Jeff 1971-
Kinney, Jeff 1971-
Born 1971, in MD; married; wife's name Julie; children: Will, Grant. Education: Attended University of Maryland.
Home—MA. E-mail—[email protected]
Author and illustrator. Design director of Internet publishing company, Boston, MA.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley's Journal, Amulet (New York, NY), 2007.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, Amulet (New York, NY), 2008.
Also author of the Jeff Kinney Web log.
Jeff Kinney did not realize he wanted to be a cartoonist until he was a student at the University of Maryland. There he began the comic strip "Igdoof," which was published in the campus newsletter. After graduation, he had difficulty finding a syndicate to publish his work, so he began writing down the ideas that would eventually form the germ of his first book for children. After six years of writing, Kinney began publishing his "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" strip online at Funbrain.com. The result was a hit, and in 2006, Kinney was offered a contract to turn his online work into a print book.
The first published incarnation of Kinney's strip, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley's Journal, is the chronicle a middle-grader whose mother has made him a deal: if he keeps a diary—or journal, as he insists, since diaries are for girls—he can get out of some Saturday chores. The result is a chronicle of Greg's year, including his misadventures in seventh grade. A typically egotistical preteen, Greg is oblivious to his own faults and is unconcerned about the effects of his actions on others. "I struggled with the fact that Greg is really not that likable a person," Kinney told an interviewer for the Family Education Web site. "But there's always room for a character to grow and learn, so by the end of the book, don't be surprised if you see some changes in Greg."
Because the characters are based on Kinney's own family, he spent time on the phone with his younger brother, trying to remember their childhood. "I spent about four years trying to recall every detail of my younger years, writing down everything I thought was funny," he recalled to the Family Education Web site interviewer. In Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley's Journal, "Kinney ably skewers familiar aspects of junior high life," wrote a contributor to Publishers Weekly, as the book quickly climbed to the number-one spot on the New York Times Children's Best-seller list. Kim Dare, writing for School Library Journal, commented that "Kinney does a masterful job of making the mundane life of boys on the brink of adolescence hilarious," while a Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that the young narrator's "escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half." A sequel, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, chronicles Greg's summer.
Despite his love for his work, neither writing nor drawing come easily for Kinney. As a slow illustrator, working on the more than a thousand illustrations each volume requires is a test of endurance. "What I enjoy is seeing the words and illustrations come together on the page," he explained in his Family Education Web site interview. The work does have its rewards, however. As Kinney told an interviewer for Powells.com: "I love the fact that now that the book is in print, it's finding its way into the nooks and crannies of people's houses."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 2007, April Spisak, review of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley's Journal, p. 426.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), May 26, 2007, Mary Harris Russell, review of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley's Journal, p. 7.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2007, review of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley's Journal, p. 225.
Publishers Weekly, March 5, 2007, review of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley's Journal, p. 61.
School Library Journal, April, 2007, Kim Dare, review of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley's Journal, p. 140.
Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 2007, Chris Carlson, review of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley's Journal, p. 52.
Family Education Web site,http://school.familyeducation.com/ (January 9, 2008), interview with Kinney.
Fun Brain Web site,http://www.funbrain.com/ (January 10, 2008), "Diary of a Wimpy Kid."
Jeff Kinney Home Page,http://www.wimpykid.com (January 10, 2008).
Powells.com,http://www.powells.com/ (January 9, 2008), interview with Kinney.