‘Wimpy Kid’ author meets awesome kid readers: Sibling fans shine light on Type 1 diabetes  

  • Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, used a trident to hand copies of his books to children on his latest, socially distanced book tour. Photo courtesy of Jeff Kinney

  • Children’s book author Jeff Kinney (left) hands a copy of his new book via a trident to a young boy during a recent tour stop.  Photo by Emmanuel Abreu/courtesy of Jeff Kinney

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid series author Jeff Kinney.  Photo by Flip Wolak/courtesy of Jeff Kinney

Staff Writer 
Published: 8/6/2020 10:37:15 AM

This Sunday, bestselling children’s author Jeff Kinney (creator of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series) will make a 10 a.m. appearance at South Hadley’s Odyssey Bookshop in the Village Commons as part of a socially distanced book tour for his latest release “Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Adventure.” 

In a phone interview, Kinney said his latest children’s fantasy book in the Wimpy Kid series is a story within a story. 

“The main character is a kid named Roland the Kind who is an alter ego of Rowley, who is the author of the book,” Kinney said. “And then his best friend is a barbarian version of Greg Heffley, who is the star of the Wimpy Kid series.” 

For obvious reasons, Kinney’s current book tour is different from ones in the past due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

“My last tour, we went to big theaters, theaters that sometimes held 2,000 people, and we put on a show,” Kinney said. “Now this tour is different in about every way. I’m in a van, and I’m driving. I have a 92-inch trident that I’m using to hand books to kids so that we can keep our distance. It’s definitely a different world, but we did an event yesterday, and it went well. I feel like we’ve hit the right formula where I can look into the eyes and actually physically hand them their book. It feels good to make that connection.” 

He added that he thinks it's important for children to make connections with their favorite authors. 

“I think that’s why we tour as authors, because we want to hopefully spark something in young readers that might help them become writers some day,” Kinney said.  

As part of the tour stop in South Hadley, Kinney will meet with siblings Sam and Mia Hudak, who are 11 and 9 years old, respectively. Both brother and sister live with Type 1 diabetes and are advocates for people who live with the disease. 

Their parents are also essential workers — their mother, Myriah Hudak, is a fifth grade teacher for Monson Public Schools and their father, Samuel Hudak, is a lieutenant with the Springfield Fire Department.

Kinney said he hopes to learn more about Sam and Mia during his western Massachusetts tour stop. 

“We’ve been having the bookstores that we visited pick out kids who are special or extraordinary in some way,” he said. “It’ll be a real pleasure for me to meet some kids who are making a difference and learning to be outspoken and brave at such a young age.” 

Sam Hudak said their family has raised over $30,000 for nonprofit JDRF, which has funded Type 1 diabetes research during the past four years by participating in the nationwide “One Walk” fundraising event series. Sam and Mia have also met with politicians such as Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren to advocate for Type 1 diabetes research. 

“I don’t like diabetes, so I would like to cure it,” Sam Hudak said. “By advocating, it helps raise money for diabetes research and get closer to a cure.” 

Both Sam and Mia are affected by Type 1 diabetes on a daily basis. Their blood sugar levels drop throughout the day, which can prove more challenging in completing day-to-day tasks. 

“It impacts my life because before I eat I have to stop and count my carbs and give myself insulin,” Mia Hudak said. “I also wear an insulin pump to get my insulin and wear a Dexcom to read my blood sugars. It annoys me to wear devices all the time because I am always attached to something.”

Myriah Hudak said both she and her husband are proud of their children’s advocacy work. 

“It gives them some control over Type 1 diabetes,” she said. “They didn’t get to decide to have Type 1 diabetes and can’t get rid of it until we find a cure, so by becoming advocates, it gives them a strong voice to help make changes to their futures.”

When Mia meets author Jeff Kinney, she hopes to get some writing tips — she hopes to author a book herself someday. Both she and Sam are big fans of Kinney’s Wimpy Kid series. 

“Wimpy Kid books make me laugh out loud,” she said. “I read them because they make me feel happy.”

Chris Goudreau can be reached at cgoudreau@gazettenet.com. 

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