Don't tell the students at Carmel Elementary School that no one reads any more.


"Who's wearing eyeliner, just like Rodrick in the book?" asked teacher Tim Vandenberg.


Four hands shot up, each attached to boys dressed up as Rodrick Heffley, the brother of the star of the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series. Tuesday, the sixth book in Jeff Kinney's series, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever," went on sale and Carmel students were among the first in the nation to receive copies.


Vandenberg's class put in the tenth-largest order of any classroom ordering through Scholastic Book Clubs.


"This is not Harry Potter big. This is Lemony Snickett's (Series of Unfortunate Events) big ... maybe bigger," Vandenberg said Monday. "I make a big deal when the Scholastic catalogs come out, because I want kids to see that reading is exciting. As a teacher, my secret mission is to get them to read, because the more they read, the better they get at it."


Forty-nine students pre-ordered the books before Nov. 1, and more ordered since.


"That's half the sixth grade population," Vandenberg said. "That's ginormous."


Carmel held a Wimpy Kid-themed assembly Tuesday, where Vandenberg gave out copies of the new book.


Students dressed up as characters from the books, and first-place winner Dillon Martinez, one of those dressed as Rodrick walked away with a copy of "Cabin Fever" autographed by Kinney.


The Wimpy Kid books star middle school student Greg Heffley, a young "knucklehead," as Vandenberg describes him, fumbling through the challenges of his age.


"It really is just the most awkward time in life, where half of the kids aren't aware there's an opposite gender yet, and half of them are," he said. "This is speaking to kids of all groups, because they can all find themselves in there somehow."


Carmel's sixth-graders beat out classrooms at much larger schools to earn a place in Scholastic's top preorders list.


"I knew (Carmel's order) was kind of big, but I thought there was a million other schools like this," Vandenberg said. "My gift as a reading teacher is to excite kids about reading. Other teachers are better about phonics or writing, and I teach that too, but my gift is to get kids excited about reading."


Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.