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Book Review

Dog Days by Jeff Kinney has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the fourth book in the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Greg Heffley keeps a journal, including cartoon illustrations, about his life as a middle-schooler. In this installment, Greg writes he would prefer to spend his summer indoors, in the dark, playing video games. His mom has other ideas. She wants to make memories and create a summer filled with family bonding.

One activity she pushes, and Greg dreads, is swimming at the town pool. Greg once enjoyed the luxuries of his friend Rowley Jefferson's country-club swimming pool, but he annoyed Mr. Jefferson once too often. The town pool seems like a huge step down. Plus, it involves walking through the communal showers where hairy grown men are soaping up.

Greg agonizes further when his mother starts a neighborhood book club for boys his age. She insists they read classics. The number of attendees dwindles until Greg is the sole member, yet Mom stays on him to read Charlotte's Web. The book club ends abruptly when Rowley's dad comes to the door with a bill from the country club for slushy drinks Rowley and Greg had put on his tab. In an effort to pay their bill, the boys start a short-lived, poorly-run lawn service that leaves them at odds with one another.

Greg eventually pays off his debt with birthday money. He also gets an angel fish as a gift. Mom plans a family trip to a water park more suited for his younger brother, Manny. When they return, Greg learns Mom had absent-mindedly put his fish in a tank with his older brother's aggressive fish. The angelfish is nowhere to be found. At a Father's Day dinner with Dad and Grandpa, Greg learns that his dad sympathizes with him about the fish, but his dad says he can't completely understand because he never lost a pet. Grandpa then confesses about having lied about sending Dad's childhood dog to a butterfly farm. Angry and dismayed, Dad drops the family off at home and returns with a dog. Mom names him Sweetie. Although Greg had always wanted a dog, he becomes disenchanted when Sweetie continually barks during his TV shows and sleeps in the dead center of his bed.

Mom arranges a Fourth of July picnic for the family at the town pool, which is packed. The fireworks show fails, but they're able to see part of the country club fireworks show over a hedge of trees. Greg decides he likes the pool a little better after he spots a pretty older girl working as a lifeguard.

Rowley's family invites Greg to the beach with them, which Greg recognizes as a setup between their parents to get the boys back together. Greg quickly wears out his welcome by demanding money and sending a rude email, which Mr. Jefferson discovers. Greg's dad gets a call from Mr. Jefferson and, angrily drives the four hours to pick up his son. Soon after, Greg hears his dad talking secretively on the phone. When Dad tells Greg they're going on a surprise outing, Greg's older brother convinces Greg that Dad is going to sell him. Greg calls the police, who arrive as he and Dad are leaving for the ballpark. Mom had purchased tickets for third-row seats. But after clearing things up with the police, Dad is no longer in the mood for baseball. The big secret, it turns out, is Dad is giving Sweetie to Gramma.

Rowley and Greg sneak out to spend the night in a tent in front of a video-game store. They think there will be a big competition the next day, but it ends up being just the two of them. As summer winds down, Greg and his dad bond a little more over the newspaper comic they love to hate. Mom compiles a scrapbook of their summer experiences, which makes the summer look a lot better than it was. Greg concludes that the person who takes the pictures is the one who gets to tell the story.

Christian Beliefs

Greg attends church with his family. He says he's glad to go because he'll need to turn to a higher power to get his debt at the country club paid off. He says whenever Gramma prays for something, she gets it right away. He thinks she must have a direct pipeline to God. His corresponding illustration shows Gramma praying that she will find her coupon book. In another illustration, Greg prays that Mr. Jefferson will get hit in the head so he'll forget about the money Greg owes him.

He also prays for help to get good scores on his favorite video game. The sermon is about being kind to everyone because you never know who might be Jesus in disguise. The message makes Greg paranoid because he's afraid he'll end up guessing the wrong person. As the donation basket is passed, Greg thinks about how much more he needs that money than whoever may be getting it. His mom passes the basket on quickly, sensing he might want to help himself.

Other Belief Systems

At his mother's hair salon, Greg reads the horoscopes in the tabloids. His trip to the salon also gets him hooked on soap operas and makes him want to return to hear more neighborhood gossip. When mom tries to start a book club for boys Greg's age, he suggests they read a book from the "Magick and Monsters: Dark Realms" series.

Authority Roles

Greg's dad sometimes gets frustrated with Greg's immature antics, but he makes many efforts to bond with his son. Mr. Jefferson, Rowley's dad, tries to be kind to Greg but often ends up irritated by Greg's insensitive behavior. Mom tries desperately to create a fun, memorable summer for the family. She sets up opportunities for Greg and his dad to bond and tries to patch up Greg's friendship with Rowley. When Greg runs up a tab at Mr. Jefferson's country club, Mom makes him pay his debt with his own money.




The illustration of the book Greg draws in his diary from the "Magick and Monsters: Dark Realms" series shows a woman wearing a somewhat-tight shirt and wielding a sword. Greg's mom objects to the book because she doesn't like the way the cover portrays women.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Lying/Deceitful behavior: Greg calls one of his grandma's friends, pretending to be Gramma. Greg sneaks in and borrows Gramma's mower without her permission. Greg and Rowley lie to their parents so they can spend the night camped out in front of a video-game store. They watch a scary movie that they know their parents wouldn't allow them to see.

Nudity: On several trips to the town pool, Greg alludes to the gross things he sees as grown men soap up in the shower area. He likens it to the stuff of horror movies and feels traumatized by the experience. His illustrations depict shirtless, hairy men. A few of Greg's illustrations show people sitting on the toilet with their pants down around their ankles. None of these illustrations show the genital area.

Bathroom humor: Greg wishes for a recliner that has a toilet in it so he won't ever have to get up from playing video games. Greg recalls his sole modeling gig, where his picture ended up on a medical book called Your Child and Constipation. Greg includes an illustration of a boy standing in the kiddie pool telling his mom he is peeing.

Movie tie-in: Producers often use a book as a springboard for a movie idea or to earn a specific rating. Because of this, a movie may differ from the novel. To better understand how this book and movie differ, compare the book review with Plugged In's movie review for Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

8 to 12




Jeff Kinney






Record Label



Amulet Books, an imprint of Harry N. Abrams Inc.


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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