Jeff Kinney, author of the popular “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series, is going on a socially-distant tour to promote his latest book, “Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Adventure.”
The “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series, which follows the life and adventures of middle-school student Greg Heffley, first graced shelves at book stores back in 2007. Following the success of the series, Kinney decided to branch off and start writing books from the eyes of the “Wimpy Kid” character Rowley Jefferson, Greg Heffley’s best friend. The first Rowley story, “Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson’s Journal,” was released in 2019.
“The first Rowley book started out as a Scholastic essay that got handed out to kids in classrooms,” said Kinney. “I then got expanded to the U.K. for World Book Day. I loved writing in Rowley’s voice, he’s a pure kid and he comes from a place of pure imagination.”
Kinney’s newest Rowley story, “Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Adventure,” Rowley starts to write an epic fantasy story. According to Kinney, Rowley starts to write the story from the perspective of a young child, and when he brings his story to Greg, he has a lot of suggestions for Rowley about how to change it.
“Rowley is sort of unfettered in his imagination, it’s driven from a pure place, of pure imagination. When he shows Greg his story, Greg has a lot of suggestions on how to make it better,” said Kinney. “While Rowley comes from imagination, Greg is more cynical, more commercial. There’s a lot of push and pull between Greg and Rowley.”
Kinney says that the new book gives kids a glimpse at what the actual process can be for writing and creating a book.
“The book kind of gets to show kids how the sausage gets made, in this case how a book gets made,” said Kinney. “It’s kind of a mix of wild imagination plus the idea of marketability. The book is pretty meta, but also fun. I hope kids learn something along the way.”
From Aug. 3-11, Kinney will go on a brief tour to promote the release of the new book, which is set to hit the shelves on Aug. 4. The tour will start at Word-Up Books in Washington Heights, where Kinney will be handing out books safely for visitors with social distancing measures in place, and will also be giving special attention to kids whose parents are frontline healthcare workers.
Due to the pandemic, Kinney wasn’t sure if the tour was going to be able to happen.
“We’ve been trying to figure how to crack this nut, how to tour effectively while maintaining social distancing and keeping it personal,” said Kinney. “We’re driving from book store to book store and doing curbside pickups with parents and kids. We’ll hand the book to kids with one of those 90-inch grabber tools, and parents can snap a photo through the driver’s side window. I think it’s important to be able to make some kind of personal connection in these difficult times.”