Kids, don your smelliest, scruffiest sneakers to celebrate the nationwide launch of Jeff Kinney's new book, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul," at the Barnes & Noble in Carle Place on Monday evening.
Kids will need those shoes for the "Foulest Footwear Contest" during the signing. The author is trying an experiment — setting up six "stations" along the line with activities related to the new story, which is about a Heffley family summer road trip.
On vacation, the Heffley family stops at a country fair, where Greg and his older brother, Rodrick, enter the footwear competition. Toddler brother Manny enters a Guess the Weight of the Hog contest, which will be another stop on the bookstore line. At each location, kids will get a photo taken. When they get home, they can download their pictures.
Kinney, 43, talked to Newsday about his ninth book by phone from his home in Plainville, Massachusetts, where he also plans to open a bookstore in 2015 called An Unlikely Story.
Why did you choose to send the Heffley family on a summer vacation road trip?
I think every creative property has a moment where it needs to broaden its horizons a little bit, and this was the moment for me for "Diary of a Wimpy Kid." I felt like I needed to put the Heffley family in an environment that was new. There's also a challenge because I was taking Rowley, Greg's best friend, out of the story and I was taking school out of the story, so, for me, it was really a way of mixing things up creatively.
Did any of the mishaps that occur on the family's ill-fated trip actually happen to you?
Oh, yes. The pig gets out in the car. That's derived from a story that happened to me as a kid. My mother was actually changing me, I was a baby, in the front seat of a station wagon. In the backseat, in the very back of the station wagon, our rabbit, whose name was Frisky, got out in the car and was trying to escape through the back window, and it had wedged itself so that it was halfway out. My mother had to lunge over three rows of seats and grab the rabbit by its hind legs, which I'm sure was quite a sight for the people behind us.
Do you have a favorite scene in the book?
I think my favorite part is the part where the father tries to make a phone call and wants everybody in the car to be quiet. We've all been through that where we tell our kids that you just need to make this one-minute call and they have to stay silent and it's, of course, impossible for them. I think the fact that everything goes haywire, that feels like the truest part of the book.
WHEN | WHERE 6 p.m. Monday, Barnes & Noble, Country Glen Shopping Center, 91 Old Country Rd., Carle Place
INFO Tickets will be distributed beginning at 9 a.m. Sunday; for each ticket, customers must buy one book from the series; the newest book, "The Long Haul," is $13.95; limit four tickets per customer; 516-741-9850; bn.com.