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The Adventures of Captain Underpants Paperback – September 1, 1997
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From School Library Journal
Grade 2-5-Pilkey packs an amazing amount of humor into what could have been a one-gag novel. Besides turning their principal into a silly superhero, George and Harold play tricks on just about everyone. They pepper pom-poms, put bubble bath in tubas, and fill a football with helium. Pilkey's illustrations are half the fun, and that magical moment when the hypnotized Principal Krupp dons his Captain Underpants uniform and sings "Tra-La-Laaaaaaaa" is priceless. Krupp is a worthy successor to Lamar J. Spurgle, the nemesis of "the Cut-Ups" in James Marshall's great picture books. The "kneel here" sign in front of his desk says it all. Kid Appeal Award: Superheroes are always fascinating to kids. And children of a certain age will laugh at anything that has to do with underpants. Combining the two was a stroke of comic genius.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 2^-4. The title and the cover art, which depicts a toothy, egg-shaped fellow in a red cape and jockey shorts, are designed to keep this chapter book in constant circulation. The story is a superhero spoof: two misbehaving fourth-grade boys, Harold and George, hypnotize their school principal and turn him into their comic book creation, Captain Underpants. The boys have their hands full when the captain escapes and starts chasing bad guys in his underwear. The extra leading and slightly enlarged typeface make for easier reading, but the silliness goes overboard (picture villainous Dr. Diaper staring at a pile of rubber doggy doo), and the many action-packed illustrations rob the plot of some of its zip by commanding more than their share of attention. (The flip book pages seem clever, but they're really just a tease). Still, the humor is on target for some kids in this age group, who will undoubtedly look forward to a planned second adventure--Captain Underpants 2: Attack of the Talking Toilets. Stephanie Zvirin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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At the follow-up appointment, my patient brought me one of his own copies of Captain Underpants, so I could see what he was going on about. I promised him the next time he came for an appointment, I would have read the whole series. His mom told me later, "You're the only doctor here who's willing to read Captain Underpants. You're doing pretty well."
And here I am. I read Captain Underpants and I thoroughly loved it. It is one of the most banned books in libraries in the US, which probably goes to show you that it is extremely effective at engaging its target audience. I laughed in delight, reading the adventures of Harold and George, and remembered all the childhood hours I spent with my brother thinking up practical jokes that landed us in trouble again and again. I remembered the stink bombs, the fart spray, the whoopee cushions, and simply remembered what it was like to be a kid.
I have read a few of the reviews that express concern that the series encourages defiance of authority, but I have several points to make in response. Firstly, the authority figures in the book should be challenged. Quite frankly, if kids had to attend a school where the principal punished naughty behaviour by making them clean his house and mow his lawn, I would mount a protest. That is a highly inappropriate punishment. Secondly, I seriously doubt that reading Captain Underpants is going to turn a kid into a criminal or miscreant of the justice system. If you really looked at the kinds of things that turn kids into criminals, reading books is not one of them. Thirdly, Captain Underpants was wonderfully imaginative. It turns mundane things into objects of great potential (nefarious or otherwise). I love that it encourages kids to dream and imagine, and not be confined by the dictates of our time. If not for challenging ideas, we wouldn't know that the earth revolved around the sun, or that gravity makes apples fall to the ground, or that spores from a fungus (penicillin) could be critical in treating infection.
Let's let kids enjoy being kids. Heaven knows, growing up isn't much fun. And for the love of all that is cotton-y and pre-shrunk, if they love the Captain, let them read it.
This fun and exciting chapter book is a must read for all Captain Underpants fans. Cannot wait to read the rest!
This combines harmless mischievousness, fart-jokes, and a love of being creative. They're perfect to get kids started on comics and other reading.