My wife and I don’t really have nicknames for each other, but after I came across this book the other day I asked her to start calling me Captain Underpants. After her initial WTF look, I handed her the book and said, “That’s right, Captain Underpants. Starting now.”. Upon flipping through the book, she said, “Whatever you say, Captain Underpants”. Sweet.
So, fourth graders, George Beard and Harold Hutchins, are two very responsible fourth-graders, as in “whenever something bad happened, these two precocious pranksters where usually responsible.” Mr. Krupp, the principal, goes high tech on these two boys and video tapes them in the act of dubious behavior. When caught, George and Harold hypnotize Principal Krupp into believing that he’s Captain Underpants, a new fangled superhero of their own design. Next thing they know, Captain Underpants, the egg-shaped, scantily clad but caped super hero is flying out his office window to fight crime with Wedgie Power, battling robot thieves, bank robbers and the super evil Dr. Diaper. Luckily, Captain Underpants and the boys are heavily armed with fake doggy doo-doo that they cleverly deploy as their secret weapon against Dr. Diaper. After their close call with Dr. Diaper, the boys hustle Principal Krupp back into his office (and clothes), just in time for their next wild adventure featured in, The Attack of the Talking Toilets!
When reading children’s books with my kids, I’m typically enwrapped in the world of Pinkalicious, Thomas the Train, or some other cutsie or goody two-shoes story. Sometimes I just want to laugh and be silly with my kids, and when that happens it’s usually about something at least mildly inappropriate, like a mouth full of chewed food (car crash!). Well, with the Captain Underpants book series, we can laugh histarically about “edgy” things like fake doggy doo-doo and a chubby superhero who just wears his underwar and a cape to battle Dr. Diaper, heanious toilets, and robots all the while reading (the point is that reading is good). The illustrations are fun and the play on words are hilarious for parent and child. I will warn you, though, your kids will want to play super hero in their underwear and cape. Oh, and umm…dad might, too.
With over 38 million copies in print, the Captain Underpants series is super popular with children ages 4-10 and their parents. I know there isn’t any complex character development, but I’d start with the first book and read through the entire series with your kids. A little background on the series: The author, Dav Pilkey, started illustrating Captain Underpants in 2nd grade. His teacher told him to stop wasting his time on drawing “stupid” underwear super heros…I’m glad he didn’t listen to her, and with 38 million sold so is he! Dav Pilkey is also the creator of many other acclaimed children’s books, including Dogzilla, Kat Kong and God Bless the Gargoyles. His book, The Paperboy, received a Caldecott Honor.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to pick out a couple of Captain Underpants books today at Childrensbookstore.com.