The Diary Of A Wimpy Kid:

   
The Last Straw
   
By Jeff Kinney

   
JANUARY
   
New Year’s Day
   
You know how you’re supposed to come up with a list of “resolutions” at the beginning of the year, to try to make yourself a better person?
    
Well, the problem is, it’s not easy for me to think of ways to improve myself, because I’m already pretty much one of the best people I know.
    
So this year, my resolution is to try and help OTHER people improve. But the thing I’m finding out is that some people don’t really appreciate it when you’re trying to be helpful.
     
PIC: “I think you should work on chewing your potato chips more quietly.”
    
One thing I noticed right off the bat is that the people in my family are doing a lousy job sticking to THEIR New Year’s resolutions.
     
Mom said she was gonna start going to the gym today, but she spent the whole afternoon watching TV.
    
And Dad said he was gonna go on a strict diet, but after dinner, I caught him out in the garage, stuffing his face with brownies.
    
PIC:  Dad eating: “Slork, slork.”
    
Even my little brother, Manny, couldn’t stick with his resolution. This morning he told everyone that he’s a “big boy,” and he’s giving up his pacifier for good. Then he threw his favorite binkie in the trash.
    
Well, THAT New Year’s resolution didn’t even last a full MINUTE.
    
Pic: Manny with binkie:  “Suck, suck, suck.”
     
The only person in my family who didn’t come up with a resolution is my older brother, Rodrick, and that’s a pity, because his list should be about a mile and a half long.
    
So I decided to come up with a program to help Rodrick be a better person. I called my plan “Three Strikes and You’re Out.” The basic idea was that every time I saw Rodrick messing up, I’d make a little “X” on his chart.
    
Well, Rodrick got all three strikes before I even had a chance to decide what “You’re Out” meant.
    
Pic: boys fighting: “Punch, punch, punch.”
    
Anyway, I’m starting to wonder if I should just bag MY resolution, too. It’s a lot of work, and so far, I haven’t really made any progress.
    
Besides, after I reminded Mom for the billionth time to stop chewing her potato chips so loud, she made a really good point. She said, “Everyone can’t be as perfect as YOU, Gregory.” And from what I’ve seen so far, I think she’s right.
     
Thursday
     
Dad is giving this diet thing another try, and that’s bad news for me. He’s gone about three days without eating any chocolate, and he’s been SUPER cranky.
    
The other day, after Dad woke up and told me to get ready for school, I accidentally fell back asleep. Believe me, that’s the last time I’ll make THAT mistake.
    
Pic: Dad yanking off blanket: “WAKE UP!!!”
    
Part of the problem is that Dad always wakes me up before Mom’s out of the shower, so I know that I still have like ten more minutes before I need to get out of bed for real.
     
Yesterday, I came up with a pretty good way to get some extra sleep time without making Dad mad. After he woke me up, I took all of my blankets down the hall with me and waited outside the bathroom for my turn in the shower.
   
Then I lay right down on top of the heater vent. And when the furnace was blowing, the experience was even BETTER than being in bed.
    
Pic: lying on the vent: “Aaah.” Heater sounding like: “FWOOSH.”
   
The problem was, the heat only stayed on for about five minutes at a time. So when the furnace wasn’t running, I was just lying there on this cold piece of metal.
    
Pic: lying there, cold: “Chatter, chatter, chatter.”
    
This morning, while I was waiting for Mom to be done with her shower, I remembered someone gave her a bathrobe for Christmas. So I went into her closet and got it.
    
Let me just say that was one of the smartest moves I’ve ever made. Wearing that thing was like being wrapped in a big, fluffy towel that just came out of the dryer.
     
In fact, I liked it so much, I even wore it AFTER my shower. I think Dad might’ve been jealous HE didn’t come up with the robe idea first, because when I came to the kitchen table, he seemed extra-grumpy.
    
PIC: Gregory walking into kitchen: “Mornin’.”
     
I tell you, women have the right idea with this bathrobe thing. Now I’m wondering what ELSE I’m missing out on.
    
I just wish I had asked for my own bathrobe for Christmas, because I’m sure Mom is gonna make me give hers back.
    
I struck out on gifts again this year. I knew I was in for a rough day when I came downstairs on Christmas morning, and the only presents in my stocking were a stick of deodorant and a “travel dictionary.”
    
I guess once you’re in middle school, grown-ups decide you’re too old for toys or anything that’s actually fun.
   
But then they still expect you to be all excited when you open the lame gifts they get you.
   
PIC: Gregory opening present, a book called “Math Is Rad.” Mom saying, “It’ll help you get a jump-start on algebra!”
   
Most of my gifts this year were books or clothes. The closest thing I got to a toy was a present from Uncle Charlie.
   
When I unwrapped Uncle Charlie’s gift, I didn’t even know what it was supposed to be. It was this big plastic ring with a net attached to it.
    
Uncle Charlie explained that it was a “Laundry Hoop” for my bedroom. He said I was supposed to hang the Laundry Hoop on the back of my door, and it would make putting away my dirty clothes “fun.”
   
PIC: Greg imagining that it’s fun to toss clothes into the bag.
    
At first I thought it was a joke, but then I realized Uncle Charlie was serious. So I had to explain to him that I don’t actually DO my own laundry.
     
I told him I just throw my dirty clothes on the floor, and Mom picks them up and takes them downstairs to the laundry room.
    
Then a few days later, everything comes back to me in nice, folded piles.
    
I told Uncle Charlie he should just return the Laundry Hoop and give me cash so I could buy something I’d actually USE.
    
That’s when Mom spoke up. She told Uncle Charlie she thought the Laundry Hoop was a GREAT idea.
    
Then she said that from now on I’d be doing my OWN laundry. So basically, it ends up that Uncle Charlie got me a chore for Christmas.
    
It really stinks that I got such crummy gifts this year. I put in a lot of effort buttering people up for the past few months, and I thought it would pay off on Christmas.
    
Now that I’m responsible for my own laundry, I guess I’m kind of GLAD I got a bunch of clothes. I might actually make it through the whole school year before I run out of clean stuff to wear.
    
Monday
    
When me and Rowley got to our bus stop today, we found a nasty surprise. There was a piece of paper taped to our street sign, and it said that, effective today, our bus route was “rezoned.” And what that means is now we have to WALK to school.
    
Well, I’d like to talk to the genius who came up with THAT idea, because our street is almost a quarter of a mile from the school.
    
Me and Rowley had to run to make it to school on time today. And what REALLY stunk was when our regular school bus passed us by and it was full of kids from Whirley Street, the neighborhood right next to ours.
   
The Whirley Street kids made monkey noises when they passed us, which was really annoying because that’s exactly what WE used to do when we passed THEM.
    
PIC: School bus kids yelling, “OOH OOH! EEE EEE!” Walking kids, “PANT PANT!”
    
I’ll tell you one reason why it’s a bad idea to make kids walk to school. These days, teachers give you so much homework that, with all the books and papers you have to carry home, your backpack ends up weighing like a hundred pounds.
    
And if you want to see what kind of an effect that has on kids over time, all you have to do is look at Rodrick and some of his friends.
    
Speaking of teenagers, Dad scored a pretty big victory today. The baddest teenager in our neighborhood is this kid named Lenwood Heath, and he’s kind of like Dad’s archenemy. Dad has probably called the cops on Lenwood Heath about fifty times.
   
PIC: Dad yelling, “Dag nab you rotten teenagers.” Teenagers knocking over trash can while skateboarding: “CLANG!”
    
I guess Lenwood’s parents got sick of his act, because they sent him off to military academy.
    
You’d think it would have made Dad pretty happy, but I don’t think he’ll be satisfied till every teenager on the planet gets sent off to juvenile hall or Alcatraz or something. And that includes Rodrick.
    
Yesterday Mom and Dad gave Rodrick some money to buy books so he could study for the SATs, but Rodrick spent the money on a tattoo instead.
    
PIC: Tattoo says, “LODED DIPER.”
    
I’ve still got a little time before I turn into a teenager. But the minute I do, I guarantee you Dad will be looking for the first chance to ship me out.
    
Monday
    
For the past week or so, Manny has been getting out of bed every night and coming downstairs.
    
Instead of putting him right back to bed, Mom lets Manny sit with us and watch TV.
    
It’s really not fair, because when Manny is with us, I’m not allowed to watch any of the shows I like.
    
All I can say is, when I was a kid there wasn’t any of this “getting out of bed” stuff. I did it once or twice, but Dad put a stop to it real quick.
    
There was this book that Dad used to read to me every night called “The Giving Tree.” It was really a good book, but the back of it had a picture of the author, this guy named Shel Silverstein.
    
PIC: Cover of book with funny looking drawing of Shel Silverstein.
    
Dad must have known that picture kind of freaked me out, because one night after I got out of bed, Dad said, …
    
PIC: “IF YOU GET OUT OF BED AGAIN TONIGHT, YOU’LL PROBABLY RUN INTO SHEL SILVERSTEIN IN THE HALLWAY.”
    
That really did the trick. Ever since then, I STILL don’t get out of bed at night, even if I really need to use the bathroom.
   
I don’t think Mom and Dad read Manny any Shel Silverstein books, which probably explains why he keeps getting up after they put him to bed.
    
I’ve heard some of the stories Mom and Dad read to Manny, and let me just say that the people who write these books really have a racket going.
    
First of all, there are hardly any words in them, so I’m sure it only takes about five seconds to write one.
   
PIC: Mom reading to Manny in bed, “SILLY BEAR YAWNING, SILLY BEAR GLAD. SILLY BEAR SLEEPING, SILLY BEAR SAD. THE END.”
    
I told Mom what I thought of Manny’s books, and she said that if they were so easy to write, then I should try writing one myself.
     
So that’s exactly what I did. Trust me, it wasn’t hard, either. All you have to do is make up a character with a snappy name, and then make sure the character learns a lesson at the end of the book.
    
Now all I need to do is mail this thing off to a publisher and wait for the money to start rolling in.
    
THE BOOK:
     
PIC COVER: Wise Up, Mr. Shropsharp, by Greg Heffley.
     
PIC: Once upon a time there was this man named Mr. Shropsharp who thought all these crazy thoughts. CHARACTER SAYS, “I DON’T KNOW MUCH, BUT I DO KNOW ONE THING: POLAR BEARS ARE SOME USELESS ANIMALS.”
     
PIC: One day Mr. Shropsharp took a ride in his car. “HERE I GO … “
     
PIC: But then … “OOPS.” Mr. Shropsharp has driven off of a bridge and is about to land his car in the water.
   
PIC: And then … <Mr. Shropsharp is lying in a hospital bed with a doctor and a polar bear next to him … Doctor says,> “MR. SHROPSHARP, YOU WOULD HAVE DROWNED, BUT LUCKILY TOBUK HERE <the polar bear> WAS SITTING ON AN ICEBERG AND HE SAVED YOUR LIFE.”
    
PIC: And so … “BEFORE, I SAID THAT POLAR BEARS ARE SOME USELESS ANIMALS, BUT NOW I CAN SEE THAT NOT EVERY POLAR BEAR IS SO USELESS AFTER ALL.”  THE END.
    
See what I mean? The only thing I noticed after I finished the book was that I forgot to make it rhyme. But the publisher is gonna have to pay me extra if they want THAT.
    
Saturday
    
Well, after spending the last two weeks walking to school, I was really looking forward to kicking back and doing nothing for two days.
    
The problem with watching TV on a Saturday is that the only thing that’s on is bowling or golf. Plus, the sun comes through our sliding glass window, and you can barely see the TV screen, anyway.
    
PIC: Greg on sofa watching TV, announcer says, “THAT’S A SPARE, DAVE!”
    
Today I wanted to change the channel, but the remote was on top of the coffee table. I was all comfortable, with my bowl of cereal in my lap, so I really didn’t want to get up.
     
I tried using the Force to make the remote levitate to me, even though I’ve tried it a million times before and it’s never worked once. Today I tried for about fifteen minutes and concentrated REALLY hard, but no luck. I just wish I’d known that Dad was standing right behind me the whole time.
    
PIC: Greg grunting, “UNH, UNH, UNH, UNH.”
    
Dad told me I was gonna have to go outside and get some exercise. I told Dad I exercise all the TIME and just this morning I used the bench press he got me.
    
But I should have come up with something more believable, because it was pretty obvious that wasn’t true.
    
PIC: Dad looking at unused weights.
     
See, the reason Dad is on my case about exercise and all that is because he’s got this boss named Mr. Warren, and Mr. Warren has three boys who are these crazy sports fanatics. Dad sees the Warren kids outside in their front lawn every day on his way home from work when his carpool goes by their house.
    
PIC: Warren kids, where one brother is doing push-ups, “48, 49, 50.”
     
So I think Dad is pretty disappointed every time he gets home and sees what HIS sons are up to.
    
PIC: Heffley brothers in their front yard not doing anything particularly useful.
      
Anyway, like I said, Dad kicked me out of the house today. I couldn’t really think of anything I wanted to do, but then I had a good idea.
   

Yesterday at lunch, Albert Sandy was telling everyone about this guy in China or Thailand or someplace who could jump six feet straight up in the air, no joke. The way the guy did it was by digging a hole that was three inches deep and then jumping in and out of it a hundred times. The next day, the guy doubled the size of the hole, and he jumped in and out of THAT. By the fifth day, he was practically like a kangaroo.

Some of the guys at my table told Albert he was full of baloney, but what he was saying made a lot of sense to ME. Plus, I figured if I did what Albert said and then ADDED a few days to the program, all my problems with bullies could be over.

PIC: “Looking for someone, fellows?”

I got a shovel out of the garage and found a place in the front yard that looked like a good spot to dig. But before I even got started, Mom came outside and asked my what I was up to.

I told Mom I was just digging a hole, but of course she didn’t like THAT idea. So she came up with about twenty reasons why I wasn’t allowed to do it.

Mom told me it was “dangerous” to dig in the yard because of underground electrical lines and sewage pipes and stuff. Then she made me promise up and down that I wouldn’t dig any holes in our yard. So I promised.

Mom went inside, but then she kept watching me out the window. I knew I was gonna have to take my shovel and go dig a hole somewhere else, so I headed up to Rowley’s house.

I haven’t been going up to Rowley’s much lately, mostly because of Fregley. Fregley has been spending a lot of time in his front yard, and sure enough, that’s where he was today.

PIC: “Does this scab smell funny to you?”

My new strategy with Fregley is to just avoid eye contact and keep walking, and it seemed to do the trick today.

When I got to Rowley’s, I told him my idea, and how the two of us would practically be ninjas if we stuck with this hole-jumping program I planned out.

But Rowley didn’t seem so hot on the idea. He said his parents might get mad if we dug a ten-foot hole in his front yard without asking them, so he was gonna have to get permission first.

Now, if there’s one thing I know about Rowley’s parents, it’s that they NEVER like my ideas. I told Rowley we could just cover the hole up with a tarp or blanket or something and put some leaves on top of it, and his folks would never even find out. That seemed to convince him.

OK, so I admit that Rowley’s parents might EVENTUALLY find out. But that wouldn’t be for at least three or four months.

PIC: Rowley’s Dad mowing the lawn, and falling into the hole: “Aieeee!”

Me and Rowley found a good spot in the front yard to start digging, be we ran into a problem right away. The ground was pretty much frozen SOLID, and we could hardly even make a dent.

PIC: trying to dig: “Clunk.”

I spent a few minutes trying before I handed the shovel over to Rowley. He couldn’t really make any progress, either, but I gave him an extra-long turn so he could feel like he was contributing to the project.

Rowley got a little bit further than I did, but when it started to get dark out, he gave up. I guess we’ll have to take another crack at this tomorrow.

Sunday

Well, I thought about it a lot overnight, and I realized that at the rate me and Rowley are going, we’re gonna be in college before this hole is ten feet deep.

So I came up with a totally DIFFERENT idea for what we could do. I remembered this thing I saw on T.V. where scientists made a “time capsule” and filled it with a bunch of stuff like newspapers and DVDs and things like that. Then the scientists buried their time capsule in the ground. The idea was that in a few hundred years someone will come along and dig it up, and they can learn how people from our time used to live.

PIC: Chest: “Time Capsule: Do not open until 2300 A.D.”

I told Rowley about my idea, and he seemed pretty enthusiastic about it. Mostly, I think he was just glad we weren’t going to spend the next few years digging a hole.

I asked Rowley to donate some items to put in the time capsule, and that’s when he got cold feet.

I told Rowley that if he put some of his Christmas presents in the time capsule, people in the future would get some really cool stuff when they opened the box. Rowley told me it wasn’t fair, because I wasn’t putting any of MY Christmas presents in the time capsule. So I had to explain to him that the people in the future would think we were really lame if they opened the box and it was filled with clothes and books.

Then I told Rowley I’d throw in three dollars of my OWN money to prove I was making sacrifices, too. That seemed to be enough to convince him to fork over one of his new video games and a couple of other things.

I actually had a secret plan that I wasn’t letting Rowley in on. I knew that putting the cash in the time capsule was a smart move, because that money is gonna be worth a LOT more than three dollars in the future.

So hopefully whoever finds the time capsule will travel back in time and reward me for making them rich.

PIC: Person from the future giving Greg money: “For you, kind sir.”

I wrote a little note and put it in the box just to make sure the person who finds it knows exactly who to thank: “To whom it may concern: The cash is from Greg Heffley, 12 Surrey Street.”

Me and Rowley found a shoe box and put all of our stuff in it. Then we sealed it up with some masking tape.

I wrote a little note on the outside of the box to make sure it didn’t get opened too soon.

PIC of box: “Time capsule. Do not open until time travel is possible.”

After that, we put it in the hole we dug yesterday and buried it the best we could.

I kind of wish Rowley had put some more effort into digging the hole, because our time capsule wasn’t really buried all the way. Hopefully nobody will mess with it, because it needs to stay there for at least a hundred years.

PIC: Greg patting the dirt over the box, with the dirt piled up in a little mound.

Monday

Well, my week got off to a rough start. When I got out of bed, Mom’s bathrobe wasn’t where it usually is, hanging on my doorknob.

I asked Mom if she took the robe back, but she said she didn’t. So I have a feeling Dad had something to do with it.

A couple of days ago, I figured out a way to combine the bathrobe experience and the heating vent experience, and I don’t think Dad really approved of my idea.

PIC: Greg standing at the heating vent with robe on, saying, “Ahhh!”

I figure he either hid the robe or got rid of it. Now that I think of it, Dad made a run to the Goodwill bin last night after dinner, so that’s probably not a good sign.

Anyway, if Dad DID get rid of the robe, it wouldn’t be the first time he’s thrown out someone’s personal property. You know how Manny has been trying to quit using his pacifier? Yesterday morning Dad got rid of every single one of Manny’s binkies.

Well, Manny totally freaked out. The only way Mom could get him to calm down was to dig out his old blanket, this thing he calls “Tingy.”

Tingy started off as a blue blanket that Mom knitted for Manny’s first birthday, and it was love at first sight.

Manny carried that thing around with him everywhere he went. He wouldn’t even let Mom take it away from him so she could WASH it.

It started falling apart, and by the time Manny was two, his blanket was basically a couple of pieces of yarn held together by raisins and boogers. I think that’s when Manny started calling his blanket “Tingy.”

For the past couple of days, Manny’s been dragging Tingy around the house just like he did when he was a baby, and I’ve been trying to stay out of his way as much as possible.

Wednesday

I’m getting really tired of walking to school every day, so this morning I asked Mom if she would drive me and Rowley. The reason I didn’t ask her sooner is because Mom’s car is covered in all these embarrassing bumper stickers, and kids at my school are brutal when it comes to that sort of thing.

I’ve tried scraping the bumper stickers off, but whatever kind of glue they put on those things is meant to last until the end of time.

PIC: “My child is a graduate of TenderCuddles Preschool.”

Today me and Rowley got a ride from Mom, but I told here to let us out BEHIND the school.

PIC: Mom: “Are you sure this is where I’m supposed to drop you off?” Greg: “Yep, thanks for the ride.”

Well, I made the dumb mistake of leaving my backpack in the car, so Mom brought it to me in fourth period. And of course she picked TODAY to finally start going to the gym.

PIC: Mom in the class: “You forgot this, Sweetie.”

It was just my luck, too. Fourth period is the only time I have a class with Holly Hills, and I’ve been trying to make a good impression on her this year. I figure this incident probably set me back about three weeks.

I’m not the only one who’s trying to impress Holly Hills, either. I think just about every boy in my class has a crush on her.

Holly is the fourth-prettiest girl in the class, but the top three all have boyfriends. So a lot of guys like me are doing everything they can to get in good with her.

I’ve been trying to come up with an angle to separate myself from the rest of the goobers who like Holly. And I think I finally figured it out: humor.

See, the kids in my class are like Neanderthals when it comes to jokes. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here’s the kind of thing that passes for comedy at my school:

PIC: Bully tripping Greg, and Greg falling to the floor. Bully laughing, “Har, Har, Har!”

Anytime Holly’s in the area, I make sure I use my best material.

I’ve been using Rowley as my comedy partner, and I’ve actually trained him on a couple of pretty decent jokes.

PIC: “Whatchya doin’?” “Eatin’ chocolate.” “Where’d ya get it?” “A doggie dropped it.”  “Heh, heh, heh.”

The only problem is, Rowley’s starting to get a little greedy about who gets to say what, so I don’t know if this partnership is gonna work out long-term.

PIC: “Can I do the ‘doggie dropped it’ part?” “Um, I don’t think so.”

Friday


Well, I learned my lesson about getting a ride from Mom, so I’m back to walking to school. But when I was heading home with Rowley this afternoon, I seriously didn’t think I had the energy to make it up the hill to my house. So I asked Rowley if he’d give me a piggyback ride.

Rowley didn’t exactly jump at the idea, so I had to remind him that we’re best friends and this is the kind of things best friends do for each other. He finally caved in when I offered to carry his backpack for him.

PIC: Greg riding piggyback, Rowley saying, “Gasp. Wheeze!”

I have a feeling this was a one-time thing, though, because Rowley was completely wiped out by the time he dropped me off at my house. You know, if the school is going to take away our bus ride home, the least they can do is install a ski lift on our hill.

I’ve emailed the Principal about five times with my suggestion, but I haven’t heard anything back yet.

When I got to my house, I was pretty tired, too. My new thing is that I take a nap every day after school.

In fact, I LIVE for naps. Sleeping after school is the only way I can really recharge my batteries, and on most days the second I get home, I’m in bed.

PIC: Greg jumping into bed, saying, “Ahhh.”

I’m actually kind of becoming an expert at sleeping. Once I’m out, I can sleep through just about anything.

The only person I know who’s better at sleeping than me is RODRICK, and here’s the reason I say that. A couple of weeks ago, Mom had to order Rodrick a new bed because he’d worn his out. So the furniture guys came to take his old mattress and box spring away.

When they came, Rodrick was in the middle of his after-school nap. So they took his bed away, and he just slept on the floor, right in the middle of his empty bed frame.

The thing I’m worried about is that Dad is going to ban our after-school naps. I’m starting to get the feeling he’s sick of waking the two of us up for dinner every night.

Tuesday

Well, I hate to admit this, but I think my naps are starting to have an effect on my grades.

See, I used to do my homework when I got home from school, and then I watched T.V. at night. Lately I’ve been trying to do my homework WHILE I watch T.V., and sometimes that doesn’t work out too good.

PIC: Greg with the remote in front of the T.V., which is blaring, “To make sure Carissa sticks around for another week, dial ‘492’ or text the word ‘Carissa’ now!”

I had this four-page biology paper due today, but last night I kind of got caught up in this show I was watching. So I had to try to write the whole thing in the computer lab during recess today.

I didn’t have a lot of time to do any research, so I played with the margins and the font size to stretch what I had to four pages. But I’m pretty sure Ms. Nolan is gonna call me on it.

PIC: The research paper:

Chimps, a four-page paper by Greg Heffley. This is a chimpanzee, or “chimp” for short. Chimps are the subject of the paper you’re holding in your hand right now. Chimps are supposed to be smart, but I’m not so sure that’s true. <PIC: “Get out of my way, chimp!” “Don’t call me chimp!” “But you are one.” “Oh, yeah.”> Well, it looks like I’m out of paper, so I guess this is THE END.

Yesterday I actually got a “zero” on a quiz in Geography. But in my defense, it was really hard to study for the quiz and watch football at the same time.

To be honest with you, I don’t think teachers should be making us memorize all this stuff to begin with, because in the future everyone is going to have a personal robot that tells you whatever you want to know.

PIC: “Robot! What’s the largest estuary in the world?” “The Ob River, in Russia.” “Thank you very much.”

Speaking of teachers, today Mrs. Craig was in a really bad mood. That’s because the big dictionary that usually sits on her desk was missing.

I’m sure someone just borrowed it and forgot to put it back, but the word Mrs. Craig kept using was “stole.”

Mrs. Craig said that if the dictionary wasn’t returned to her desk before the end of the period, she was keeping everyone inside for recess.

Then she told us she was going to leave the room, and that if the “culprit” returned the dictionary to her desk, there wouldn’t be any consequences, and there would be no questions asked.

Mrs. Craig made Patty Farrell class monitor and left the room. Patty takes her job as class monitor really seriously, and when she’s in charge, nobody dares to step out of line.

I was just hoping the person who took the dictionary would hurry up and come clean, because I had two cartons of chocolate milk for lunch.

PIC: Greg asking, “May I please use the lavatory?” Patty replying, “No.”

But nobody did come forward. And sure enough, Mrs. Craig stuck to her promise and kept us inside for recess. Then she said she was gonna keep us inside every day until the dictionary was returned.

Friday

Mrs. Craig has kept us inside for the past three days, and still no dictionary. Today Patty Farrell was sick, so Mrs. Craig put Alex Aruda in charge of the room while she was gone.

Alex is a good student, but people aren’t afraid of Alex the way they are of Patty Farrell. As soon as Mrs. Craig left the room, it was complete pandemonium.

PIC: Alex Aruda sitting quietly, kids throwing things, one kid being bonked on the head: “Whap.”

A couple of guys who were sick of getting stuck inside for recess every day decided to try and figure out who took Mrs. Craig’s dictionary.

The first person they interrogated was this kid named Corey Lamb. I think Corey was number one on the list of suspects because he’s smart and he’s always using big words.

Corey fessed up to the crime in no time flat. But it turns out he only said he did it because the pressure made him crack.

PIC: Corey sucking his thumb while bullies empty out his desk and backpack: “Shake, shake.”

The next kid on the list was Peter Lynn, and before you knew it, Peter was confessing, too.

PIC: Bullies getting confession; Peter yelling, “Squeal.”

I figured it was just a matter of time before those guys cornered ME. So I knew I had to think up something fast.

I’ve read enough Sherlock Sammy books to know that sometimes it takes a nerd to get you out of a pinch. And I figured that if anyone could crack this case, it was Alex Aruda.

So me and a couple of other guys who were worried about getting hassled went over to see Alex to see if he could help us out.

We told Alex we needed him to solve the mystery of who took Mrs. Craig’s dictionary, but he didn’t even know what we were TALKING about. I guess Alex had been so wrapped up in his book that he hadn’t even noticed what had been going on around him for the past couple of days.

Plus, Alex always stays inside to read during recess, so Mrs. Craig’s punishment hadn’t had a big effect on his life.

Unfortunately, Alex has read his share of Sherlock Sammy books, too, so he said he would help us if we paid him five bucks. Well, that was totally unfair, because Sherlock Sammy only charges a nickel. But me and the other guys agreed it was worth it, and we pooled our money, then forked over the five dollars.

We laid out all the facts of the case to Alex, but we didn’t know a whole lot. Then we asked Alex if he could get us pointed in the right direction.

I expected Alex to start taking notes and spout some scientific mumbo jumbo, but all he did was close the book he was reading and show the cover to us. And you’re not gonna BELIEVE this, but it was Mrs. Craig’s dictionary.

Alex said he’d been studying the dictionary to get ready for the state spelling bee next month. Well, THAT would’ve been nice to know BEFORE we gave him our five bucks. Anyway, there was no time to waste complaining, because Mrs. Craig was gonna be back in the room at any second.

Corey Lamb grabbed the book from Alex and put it on Mrs. Craig’s desk. But she walked in the room right at that moment.

PIC: Mrs. Craig says, “Aha!”

Mrs. Craig ended up going back on her whole “no consequences” promise, so Corey Lamb is gonna be spending the next three weeks inside during recess. Looking on the bright side, though, at least he’ll have Alex Aruda to keep him company.
    

FEBRUARY
   
Tuesday
  
Yesterday in the cafeteria, when I emptied out my lunch bag, I got TWO FRUITS, and no snacks.
  
PIC: Fruit dumped onto table, “Bink Bonk.” Greg saying, “What the?”
  
This was a pretty big problem. Mom always packs cookies or sugar wafers or something in my lunch bag, and it’s usually the only thing I eat. So I had no energy for the rest of the day.
  
PIC: Greg trying to do pull-ups. Coach says, “At least do ONE!” Greg responds, “I, I can’t!”

  
When I got home, I asked Mom what the deal was with the two-fruits thing. She said she always buys enough treats to last us the whole week, so one of us boys must’ve taken the snacks out of the bin in the laundry room.
  
I’m sure Mom thinks I’m the one stealing the snacks, but believe me, I already learned my lesson about doing THAT.
  
Last year I took treats out of the bin, but I totally paid the price for it when I opened my lunch bag at school and pulled out Mom’s substitute snack.
  
PIC: Greg asking friends, “Would one of you gentlemen care to trade something for a pack of croutons?”
  
Today at lunch, it was the same exact thing, two fruits and no snacks.
  
Like I said, I really depend on the boost I get from the sugar. I almost fell asleep in Mr. Watson’s class in sixth period, but luckily I snapped awake when my head hit the back of my chair.
  
PIC: Greg yelling, “Wooozaa!”
  
When I got home, I told Mom is wasn’t fair someone else was eating the treats and I was having to suffer. But she said she wasn’t going to go grocery shopping until the end of the week, and that I’d just have to “make do” until then.
  
Dad wasn’t any help, either. When I complained to him, he just made up a penalty for anyone caught stealing snacks, which was “no drums and no video games for a week.” So obviously he thinks it’s either me or Rodrick.
  
Like I said, it’s not ME, but I figured Dad might be right about Rodrick. When Rodrick went up to the bathroom after dinner, I walked down to his room to see if I could find any wrappers or crumbs.
  
But while I was poking around in Rodrick’s room, I heard him coming downstairs. I had to hide quick, because for some reason Rodrick gets really bent out of shape when he catches me in his room, like he did yesterday.
  
PIC: Greg and Rowley in bedroom, Greg with two drumsticks hanging from his nose, saying, “Hey, look at me!”
  
Right before Rodrick got to the bottom of the stairs, I dove into his desk cabinet and shut the door. Rodrick walked in the room, then flopped on his bed and called his friend Ward.
  
Rodrick and Ward talked FOREVER, and I was starting to think I might have to spend the night in that desk.
  
Rodrick and Ward got into a pretty heated debate about whether or not a person could throw up while standing on their head, and I started to feel like I was going to start to throw up myself. Luckily, right around then, the phone’s battery died. When Rodrick went upstairs to get the spare phone, I made a run for it.
  
This snack thing wouldn’t even be an issue if I had money. If I did, I could just buy something from the vending machine at school every day.
  
At the moment, though, I’m kind of broke. That’s because I wasted all my money on some junk I can’t even USE.
  
About a month ago, I saw these ads in the back of one of my comic books, and I sent away for a couple of things that were supposed to TOTALLY change my life.
  
PIC: X-ray goggles – see thru: walls, metals, clothes. // Personal hovercraft: zoom around town on a cushion of air! Float six feet above the ground! // Throw your voice: ventriloquism kit. // Print your own money with the Cash Machine: insert a blank piece of paper and roll out a $5 bill!
  
I started receiving my stuff in the mail about two weeks ago.
  
The Cash Machine turned out to be some stupid magic trick where you have to insert your OWN money in the secret slot for it to work. And that wasn’t good, because I was really counting on that thing to get me out of having to find a job when I grow up.
  
The X-ray goggles just made you see blurry and cross-eyed, so that was a bust, too.
  
PIC: Greg wearing glasses at school, and in front of two girls, tripping and dropping his books, yelling, “Oof!”
  
The Throw Your Voice thing didn’t work at ALL, even though I followed the instructions in the book.
  
PIC: Greg trying to make someone near him sound like they were saying, “I’m an idiot. I’m an idiot.” He then gives up and says, “What the heck?”
  
But the item I had the highest hopes for was the Personal Hovercraft. I figured getting home after school would be a breeze once my hovercraft finally showed up in the mail.
  
PIC: Greg imagining himself “flying” by his friends, saying, “So long, suckers!”
  
Well, I got the package today, but there wasn’t a hovercraft inside. There was just a blueprint for how to BUILD a hovercraft, and I got stuck on step one.
  
PIC: Step One: acquire an industrial twin-turbine engine.
  
I just can’t believe the people who write these ads can get away with lying to kids like that. I thought about hiring a lawyer to sue these guys, but lawyers cost money, and like I said before, the Cash Machine was just a piece of garbage.
  
Thursday
  
Today, when I got home from school, Mom was waiting for me, and she didn’t look too happy. It turns out the school sent home mid-quarter report cards, and she got the mail before I could intercept it.
  
Mom showed me the report card, and it wasn’t pretty. Then she said we were gonna wait for DAD to get home to see what HE thought.
  
Man, waiting for Dad to get home when you’re in trouble is the WORST. I used to just hide in the closet, but recently I figured out a better way to handle it. Now, whenever I get in trouble, I ask Gramma to come over for dinner, because Dad’s not gonna act mad at me if Gramma’s around.
  
PIC: Greg talking to Gramma on the phone, Gramma saying, “Why, aren’t you a dear?”
  
At dinner, I made sure I sat in the seat right next to Gramma.
  
Luckily, Mom didn’t mention my report card during dinner. And when Gramma said she needed to leave to go to Bingo, I tagged right along with her.
  
PIC: Greg heading out of the dining room, saying, “Catch you guys later!”
  
Escaping Dad wasn’t the ONLY reason I went to Bingo with Gramma. I also went because I needed a surefire way to make some money.
  
I figured spending a few hours with Gramma and her Bingo friends was a pretty fair price to pay for a week’s worth of snacks from the vending machine in the school cafeteria.
  
Gramma and her friends are EXPERTS at Bingo, and they’re real serious about it, too. They have all sorts of gear like lucky blotters and “Bingo Trolls” and stuff like that to help them win.
   
One of Gramma’s friends is so good that she memorizes all her cards, and she doesn’t even NEED to use a blotter to mark them off.
   
For some reason, tonight Gramma and her friends weren’t winning like they usually do. But then on the “Cover All” game, I got every square. I yelled out “BINGO” real loud, and the clerk came over to check my card.
   
It turns out I messed up and covered a couple of squares that I shouldn’t have. The clerk announced that my win was no good, and everyone else in the room was pretty happy that they could keep playing.
   
Gramma told me not to call so much attention to myself if I called out “Bingo” again, because the regulars don’t like it when a newcomer wins.
   
I thought Gramma was pulling my leg, but sure enough, the regulars sent one of their ladies over to intimidate me. And I have to admit, she did her job really well.
   
Friday
   
Well, today wasn’t exactly my best day ever. For starters, I flunked my science test. So it probably would’ve been a good idea to have studied last night instead of spending four hours at Bingo.
   
I fell asleep in sixth period today, and this time I was out COLD. Mr. Watson had to shake me to get me to wake up. As a punishment, I had to sit in the front of a room.
   
That was just fine with me, because at least up there I could sleep in peace.
   
PIC: Greg sounding, “Snore.”
   
I just wish someone woke me up when sixth period ended, because I didn’t wake up until the NEXT period started.
   
PIC: Greg sounding, “Snork.”
   
The class I woke up in was taught by Mrs. Lowry. Mrs. Lowry gave me detention, and on Monday I’m gonna have to stay after school to serve it.
   
Tonight I was totally jittery from my sugar withdrawal, but I didn’t have any money to go buy a soda or candy from the convenience store. So I did something I’m not real proud of.
   
I went to Rowley’s and dug up the time capsule we buried in his front yard. But I only did it because I was desperate.
   
I took the time capsule back to my house, opened it up, and got out my three bucks. Then I went down to the convenience store and bought myself a big soda, a pack of gummy bears, and a candy bar.
   
I guess I feel a little bad that the time capsule me and Rowley put together didn’t stay buried for a few hundred years. On the other hand, it’s kind of neat that one of US got to open it, because we had actually put some really good stuff in there.
   
PIC: Greg playing with ROWLEY’S video games.
   
Monday
   
I didn’t really know what to expect from detention, but when I walked into the room, the first thought I had was, “I don’t belong in here with these future criminals.”
   
I took the empty seat, which was right in front of this kid named Leon Ricket.
   
Leon is not the brightest kid in our school. He was in detention because of what he did when a wasp landed on the window in homeroom.
   
PIC: Leon trying to kill the wasp with a chair; it appears that he broke a window in doing so.
   
I found out that all you do in detention is sit there and wait for it to be over. You’re not allowed to read or do your homework or ANYTHING, which is a pretty dumb rule, considering that most of the kids in there could really use the extra study time.
   
Mr. Ray was the moderator, and he more or less kept an eye on us. But every time Mr. Ray looked away, Leon would flick my ear or give me a Wet Willie or something like that. Eventually Leon got careless, and Mr. Ray caught Leon with his finger in my ear.
   
Mr. Ray said if he caught Leon touching me again, he was gonna be in BIG trouble.
   
PIC: Leon saying, “Yes, Mr. Ray.”
   
I knew Leon was just gonna go back to bugging me, so I decided to put a stop to it. As soon as Mr. Ray’s back was turned, I slapped my hands together to make it seem like Leon hit me.
   
PIC: Greg clapping his hands, “Smack.” Greg yelling, “OUCH!”
   
Mr. Ray turned around and told Leon he was gonna have to stay another half hour, and that he had detention again TOMORROW.
   
On the way home, I was wondering if I made the smartest move back there at the school. I’m not exactly the fastest runner, and a half hour isn’t that big of a head start.
   
Tuesday
   
Tonight I realized ALL of my current problems can be traced back to when someone in my family started stealing the lunch snacks. So I decided to catch the thief once and for all.
   
I knew Mom had gone grocery shopping over the weekend, so there was a fresh supply of snacks in the laundry room. That meant the snack thief was pretty much guaranteed to strike.
   
After dinner I went in the laundry room and turned off the light. Then I climbed in an empty basket and waited.
   
About a half hour later, someone came in the room and turned on the light, so I hid under a towel. But it turns out it was just Mom.
   
I stayed perfectly still while she got clothes out of the dryer. Mom didn’t notice me in there, and she dumped clothes right from the dryer right into the bin where I was hiding.
   
PIC: Mom dropping dry clothes, “Dump.” 
   
Then she walked out of the room, and I waited some more. I was seriously ready to wait there all night if that’s what it took.
   
But the clothes from the dryer were really warm, and I started feeling a little drowsy. And before I knew it, I was asleep.
   
PIC: Greg in bin, snoring, “Zzzz.”
   
I don’t know how many hours I slept, but what I DO know is that I woke up to the sound of crinkling cellophane.
   
When I heard the sound of chewing, I turned on my flashlight and caught the thief red-handed.
   
PIC: Greg shining flashlight, yelling, “HA!” Thief chewing, going, “Mmmff!”
   
It was Dad! Man, I should have known it was him from the start. When it comes to junk food, he’s a total ADDICT.
   
I started to give Dad a piece of my mind, but he cut me off. He wasn’t interested in talking about why he was stealing our lunch snacks. What he WAS interested in talking about was what the heck I was doing buried in a pile of Mom’s underwear in the middle of the night.
   
Right at that moment, we heard Mom coming down the stairs.
   
I think me and Dad realized how bad the situation looked for both of us, so we each just grabbed as many oatmeal creams as we could carry and made a run for it.
   
Wednesday
   
I was still really steamed at Dad for stealing our lunch treats, and I was planning on confronting him tonight. But Dad was in bed by 6 o’clock, so I didn’t get my chance.
   
Dad went to bed so early because he was depressed about something that happened when he got home from work. When Dad was getting the mail, our neighbors from up the street, the Snellas, walked down the hill with their new baby.
   
PIC: Parents walking baby in stroller, saying to Greg’s Dad, “Hey there, Frank!”
   
The baby’s name is Seth, and I think he’s about two months old.
   
Every time the Snellas have a baby, six months later, they throw a big “half-birthday” party and invite all the neighbors.
   
The highlight of each Snella half-birthday party is when the adults line up and try to make the baby laugh. The grown-ups do all these wacky things and make COMPLETE fools of themselves.
   
PIC: Man acting like gorilla, saying, “Goo, goo, goo, goo, goo!”
   
I’ve been to every single Snella half-birthday party so far, and no baby has laughed once.
   
Everyone knows the REAL reason the Snellas have these half-birthday parties is because their big dream is to win the $10,000 Grand Prize on “America’s Funniest Families.” That’s this T.V. show where they play home movies of people getting hit in the groin with golf balls and stuff like that.
   
The Snellas are just hoping something really funny will happen at one of their parties so they can catch it on videotape. They’ve actually gotten some pretty good stuff over the years. During Sam Snella’s half-birthday party, Mr. Bittner split his pants doing jumping jacks. And during Scott Snella’s party, Mr. Odom was walking backward, and he fell in the baby pool.
   
PIC: Mr. Odom yelling, “Wwaauugh!” (Video camera going, “Whirr.”)
   
The Snellas turned in those videos, but they didn’t win anything. So I guess they’re just gonna keep having babies until they do.
   
Dad HATES performing in front of people, so he’ll do anything he can to avoid having to act like a fool in front of the whole neighborhood. And so far, Dad has weaseled his way out of every single Snella half-birthday party.
   
At dinner, Mom told Dad he HAS to go to Seth Snella’s half-birthday party in June. And I’m pretty sure Dad knows that this time, his number is finally up.