There is just something about escaping to another world when you open the pages of a book. As a teacher, I get to share this excitement with my students 180 days a year. Not only do I get to ignite that passion in my students, but also, I get to partake in that journey. Every summer I spend hours combing through the shelves of our local library and bookstores searching for the perfect books to introduce in the new school year. Within the past couple of years, graphic novels and journals have been on my lists of musts for the classroom. My students love to read these books, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney is certainly one of their top favorites.
In conjunction with Dwight Howard of the Atlanta Hawks, Jeff Kinney and Dwight Howard hosted a “READ Carpet” event at one of our local theaters in Atlanta. When I was asked if I would like to come to the “READ Carpet” event sponsored by Dwight Howard of the Atlanta Hawks and his D12 Foundation, I immediately replied with a YES! Of course I want to interview Dwight Howard, but also I could not wait to talk to Jeff Kinney and the stars of the newest movie, The Long Haul. With several cast members in attendance for this early screening and red carpet event, I couldn’t wait to ask them what they thought about reading and middle school.
What would you say is your favorite children’s book to read?
Dwight Howard- The Little Engine That Could
Dwight shared with us about how when he was younger he was frequently told that he would not be able to accomplish his dreams. Just like the little engine, he NEVER gave up despite what others were telling him. He kept on believing in himself and eventually he was able to accomplish his dreams.
Jeff Kinney- Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Jason Drucker (Greg Heffley) – The Hardy Boys series of books
Charlie Wright (Rodrick Heffley) – The Giving Tree
He shared with us that this was a special book that he and his father would read together, and that he treasures this book to this day.
What advice would you give middle schoolers?
Dwight Howard – “Do not give up. You are going to go through many different things, and you have to remember to believe in yourself. Things are going to happen, but if you put your trust in the right thing, you will go far. I wear this bracelet on my wrist to remind me that I can do all things through Christ.”
Charlie Wright – “Relax! Don’t take everything so seriously. Whatever you feel like you are bad at or not good enough, relax. Hang in there! You are going to make it through middle school. You have to have fun, but also make the right choices.”
Jeff Kinney – “It gets better! It can be tough in middle school Middle School can be a tough time, but if you surround yourself with good friends and your family, you are going to make it. Do not be afraid to ask for help, and never give up.”
Jason Drucker– Well, he was not able to give us too much advice because he is home-schooled and not quite at that point yet.
Pictured above are the two adorable 4-year-old twins, Dylan and Wyatt Walters, that play Manny Heffley in the new movie. We asked them two very important questions in our interview.
What was your favorite part? “Having fun!”
Can you speak Spanish? “Yes!” And then much to my surprise the boys started talking to me in Spanish. Although I really did not know what they were saying, it was absolutely adorable.
We had the chance to check out this new movie, and kids and adults are going to love it! We immediately thought of the classic movie Vacation featuring Chevy Chase. While that movie is definitely for adults, Diary of a Wimpy Kid is the Vacation movie for kids! Hilarious from the start, this movie will keep you laughing and even crying at times. As a family that has enjoyed this entire series since it had come out, we were a little skeptical at first when we learned that there was a whole new cast for this beloved movie series. How was this going to change things? Are they going to be able to live up to the previous cast? Well, I have to tell you…they do! They honestly fit nicely into the roles they are playing, and viewers are going to find that they like them just as much as the original cast. In the beginning you may find yourself thinking about the old characters and thinking the new don’t fit, but I assure you, once the movie gets going, you are going to fall in love with these new characters. Of course, we will always have a special place in our hearts for the original cast members, but you are going to look forward to seeing what these new cast members do over the next few years. They bring so much to the film, and it is definitely felt and seen on the big screen. One of the things that we learned through our interview is how the brothers actually spent time together before even filing so they could develop that authentic and genuine relationship that Jeff Kinney and the directors wanted to unfold on the big screen. Charlie Wright told us that by the end of the movie, they were like a family.
In “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul,” a Heffley family road trip to attend Meemaw’s 90th birthday party goes hilariously off course thanks to Greg’s newest scheme to get to a video gaming convention. With a 47 hour car ride in store for the family, mom decides that it is time for the family to reconnect, and she puts her foot down that there will be no technology! With dad needing to stay connected to work and Greg determined to break away from the “Diaper Hands” drama, the technology show down begins. Based on one of the best-selling book series of all time, this family cross-country adventure turns into an experience the Heffleys will never forget. It is one of those films that just leaves you thinking about your childhood vacation adventures and what crazy things took place.
I do have to make sure I note something that I thought was extra special at the “READ Carpet” event. The early screening took place on Mother’s Day, and Dwight Howard’s mother was there for all the fun! It was truly sweet to see this 6’11” Atlanta Hawks basketball player be so kind and gentle to his mother. It reminded me of that quote by an unknown author,
“There has never been, nor will there ever be, anything quite so special as the love between the mother and a son.”
You will want to see this movie! As school is getting ready to let out, it is the perfect movie to help you remember what summer vacations and families are all about. Put away the technology and reconnect while making great memories along the way
Disclaimer: I was provided with passes to see the movie early. No compensation was received for this post. All opinions presented are 100% mine.