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'Wimpy Kid' author Jeff Kinney to speak in Oakland

| Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010

The author of the best-selling book series about a junior-high weakling and his comical mishaps will be visiting Pittsburgh-area kids on Sunday to talk about and sign his books, answer questions and entertain.

Jeff Kinney — author of the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series — will be the featured author of this "Black, White & Read All Over" event, which is part of a children's author series presented by Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Kinney, of Plainville, Mass., writes and illustrates the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books. His latest book — "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days," published in October — has sold more than 4 million copies.

The appeal of the cartoon books, Kinney says, is the humor factor, and the relatability of "wimpy kid" Greg Heffley. The self-centered, often jerky character is an undersized weakling going to middle school. He has a complicated relationship with his best friend, Rowley. Both kids are just trying to survive their first year of middle school.

"Most of the humor in the books comes from seeing our own imperfections in Greg," Kinney says. "I think that Greg, even with his imperfections, is still a likable character. My goal as an author is to try to take this unlikeable kid who's kind of a crummy friend, and make the audience root for him anyway.

"I think the humor delivers, and I'm proud of that aspect of my writing," Kinney says. "I think that (the books) appeal to anybody who's looking for some fun in their books."

Events like "Black, White & Read All Over" present a great opportunity for both authors and kids, Kinney says.

"It is something I enjoy ... very much," he says. "I like getting to meet and interact with the kids, because that's what it's all about. I think sometimes on the book tour, it gets a little big and I don't get to have any face time with readers, and that can get frustrating.

"I know that, as a college student, I got to talk to and meet a few of my cartooning heroes," Kinney says. "I remember how impactful that was. I would imagine that it would be equally impactful for kids who like the works of a particular author to meet them at a young age.

"We have the power for real impact on people in a positive way."

Additional Information:

'Black, White & Read All Over'

What: 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' author Jeff Kinney

When: 2 p.m. Sunday

Admission: $10; $8 for children. All seats are reserved, and a sellout is expected.

Where: Carnegie Music Hall, 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland

Details: 412-622-8866 or Web site

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