Jeff Kinney practices for his book tour called “Wimpy Kid Live: The Meltdown Show.” (Hallie Patterson)

Wimpy isn’t the word you would use to describe a Jeff Kinney book tour. The latest tour for the author of the best-selling “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books began Tuesday in Boston, Massachusetts. After a stop in nearby Plainville, where Kinney lives, he heads to nine U.S. cities, including Washington. In mid-November he’s on to Europe — six countries in 21 days.

Considering “The Meltdown” is Number 13 in the series, you might expect Kinney’s next book to be “Diary of a Weary Writer.” But instead of slowing down, the author is changing up what he does when he meets his many fans. He’s doing a few typical talks and book signings, but Kinney is also putting on a show.

“We thought it would be really fun to change the idea of what a book signing is,” Kinney said in a recent phone conversation.

The hour-long “Meltdown Show” will feature costumes, cartooning and a chance to stump the author on “Wimpy Kid” trivia. The idea is for kids to participate, not just watch.

“It’s all driven by a wheel, a spinning wheel that chooses what our next activity will be,” Kinney said. Because the show is new territory for the author, “this could go terribly wrong,” he said with a laugh.

The setting for the show and the new book is an epic snowball battle. Kinney remembers such neighborhood battles while growing up in Fort Washington, Maryland.


Kinney with Greg Heffley, the main character in his “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books. (Filip Wolak)

“We would do all the work of building the snow fort, and some bigger kids would come and take it over,” he said. “I remember getting my face stuffed in the snow. I remember people putting snow in my hat and shoving it on my head.”

The book, which went on sale Tuesday, has main character Greg Heffley and his friend Rowley Jefferson fighting for survival as they are caught between rival groups of neighbors.

“It’s a really different kind of ‘Wimpy Kid’ book,” Kinney said. “It’s a war book. Greg’s neighborhood turns into a war zone.”

Greg’s survival really isn’t in question, especially when Kinney confirms that he has no plans to end the series.

“I’ve got my sights set on 20 [books]. After that, who knows,” he said. “There are a lot of people for whom this is a lot of fun.”


(Amulet Books)

Kinney hopes the fun will include the live show, which ends with hundreds of kids taking part in a snowball fight. To prevent the battle from getting too epic, Kinney said he has a rule. “The show ends when someone [in the audience] cries . . . or when Jeff cries.”

If you go

What: “Wimpy Kid Live: The Meltdown Show”

When: Sunday at 5 p.m.

Where: University of the District of Columbia Theater of the Arts, 4200 Connecticut Avenue in Northwest Washington.

How much: $22 includes admission, a book and a photo with the author; free companion ticket for parent or kid 5 and younger.

For more information: A parent can contact Politics and Prose Bookstore at politics-prose.com/events or 202-364-1919.