By Michael BRUER
On a crisp autumn morning last week, amidst the hustle and bustle of the residents and business owners of Montrose, a line of people wrapped around the block on Honolulu Avenue, eagerly awaiting the man of the hour. Just as the sun pierced through the nearby trees, the excited crowd spotted the tour bus of Jeff Kinney, author of the popular “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series. Kinney was visiting the nation’s oldest children’s bookstore, Once Upon A Time, to meet 100 fortunate fans who purchased his newest book, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck,” and stood in line to meet and take pictures with Kinney.
“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck,” was released on Nov. 5 – the day before Kinney’s arrival – prompting many fervent readers to read the book with haste in line in anticipation of meeting its author and illustrator. Kinney took the time to talk to each of his fans briefly as he signed their books, dedicating them to family members and friends alike, while posing for pictures with his readers.
The popular children’s series debuted on April 1, 2007 and quickly gained national attention. Just two weeks later the book made it to the New York Times bestseller list, giving rise to approximately a book per year. “Hard Luck” marks the eighth in the series that has also has three movie versions, the latest released in August 2012.
According to Kinney, he had lots of input on the creative process of the films.
“I was very involved throughout film-making, from working with the screenwriters and producers, to giving my thoughts on editing,” he said.
“My hope is that kids will get a good laugh from my books and learn that reading can be a lot of fun,” he added.
Many of the enthusiastic fans were young children accompanied by their parents, including students who missed school to meet their favorite author. The book series appeals to all ages, as was evidenced by the collection of fans standing at the store’s entrance, ranging from 5 to 75.
In addressing future writers, he said, “My advice would be to take an idea and nurture it over a long period of time. It took me eight years to develop my characters.”
The time flew by and one brisk hour later the author and his staff were back on the bus, off to their next destination on the tour that includes stops in San Francisco and Beaverton, Ore.
Once Upon A Time has signed copies of all eight Wimpy Kid books, available while supplies last. The store is located at 2207 Honolulu Ave. in Montrose.