Monkeys can't talk, stupid!
I'm not really sure what makes a book a 'classic' to begin with, but I think it has to be at least fifty years old and some person or animal has to die at the end.
Kids can sniff out when they are being preached to, and they don't like it. So while my books aren't amoral, they are not infused with morals or a message, either, and kids like that.
I feel, as an adult, I'm very similar to how I was as a pre-teen. Maybe it's a case of arrested development, but I feel like it's easy to slip back into those shoes, and I feel like if we were all magically transported back to our middle school years, we'd all act like we did in middle school.
I can tell you that the book 'The Ugly Truth' is about puberty and all the awfulness that comes with that time in a person's life. It was definitely some different subject matter to be writing about, especially knowing some of my audience are second and third graders.
Luckily for me, my father had impeccable taste. No contemporary collector was he. His treasure trove of comics included gems such as 'Little Lulu,' 'Frontline Combat' and 'Classics Illustrated.' But the works that stood head and shoulders above the rest were Carl Barks's 'Donald Duck' and 'Uncle Scrooge' comics from the 1940s through the 1960s.
Many of Judy Blume's books - which I devoured when I was growing up and where I found characters that were believable because they were a lot like me - caused considerable consternation when they were first published, but now they're widely accepted as an essential part of the children's literary canon.
When I was growing up, my house was filled with books. My mother was an educator, and my father was a history buff, so our home was a virtual library, covering every author from Beverly Cleary to James Michener.
In middle school, I started to draw, and my pencil sketches were huge. They were these 4ft by 3ft drawings, and I got a lot of attention for that, so that was very validating. But I didn't start cartooning until I was in college.
'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' is my first book, and it's the fulfillment of a life-long dream. I had always wanted to be a cartoonist, but I found that it was very tough to break into the world of newspaper syndication. So I started playing with a style that mixed cartoons and 'traditional' writing, and that's how 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' was born.
There are two ways to look at my publishing career. One is that I'm a novelist churning out books, who is eight into a series; the other way is that I'm a cartoonist, just starting out. Most cartoonists have long careers: Charles Schulz drew Peanuts for 50 years.
I really wanted to be a newspaper cartoonist, but nobody liked my work. I didn't have the control or flair that was necessary to create something that didn't look childish.
I feel lucky I didn't become that newspaper cartoonist I wanted to be because in the U.S. so many newspapers have suffered circulation declines, and some have folded. What's fun about being an author is I reach a much bigger audience, and there is something special about launching a book you've penned.
I'm not very charismatic or telegenic. I feel bad for the kids waiting three hours in line for their book to be signed.
I write for kids because I think the most interesting (and most humorous) stories come from people's childhoods. When I was writing 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid,' I had a blast talking on the phone to my younger brother, Patrick, remembering all of the things that happened to our family when we were growing up.
I think if everyone would write down the funny stories from their own childhoods, the world would be a better place.
I'm not good at narrative; I'm really a gag writer, and that comes from being in the newspaper comic strip world for a while in college. What I do is I just write tons of jokes, then I sort them out in terms of quality and then pick the best of the jokes and then try to form them into a plot. If I get a good theme going, I feel lucky.
The key to any good comic strip or television sitcom is to reset the board at the end of the episode because people like familiarity.
I remember once I had lunch with George W Bush, his father, and Condoleezza Rice. Then I went home to find my dog and my neighbour's dog fighting over a dead rabbit, and I had to separate them. I like that my home life keeps things real.