Prelutsky New Kids' Poet Laureate
Poetry Friday: Mary Ann Hoberman

Banned Books Week: Our First Adventure with Captain Underpants

The police chief, looking quite angry, marched over to Captain Underpants.

And just who the heck are you supposed to be?" the police chief demanded.

"Why I'm Captain Underpants, the world's greatest superhero," said Captain Underpants. "I fight for Truth, Justice, and all that is Pre-Shrunk and Cottony!"

Back in 1997, The Adventures of Captain Underpants, an "epic novel," launched Dav Pilkey's  hugely successful series, the same series that turned up on the American Library Association's "most challenged list" for 2005. Would I use Captain Underpants to teach etiquette? No. But "anti-family content, unsuited to age group, and violence"? I just don't see it.

Just as the cover promised ("action, thrills, laffs"), Captain Underpants made me laugh, and it made Junior laugh, too. Over a couple of sittings, he would read one page, I'd read the next. We are Cut-Ups fans from way back, and the fourth-grade Captain Underpants boys, George Beard and Harold Hutchins, are indeed a couple of cut-ups, even bigger pranksters than James Marshall's Spud Jenkins and Joe Turner. Starting with writing their own comic books (which get banned at school), George and Harold get into a number of convoluted adventures.

Pilkey puts cartoony drawings on every page and includes a bounty of silliness. If your sense of humor runs toward "Austin Powers" and "Talladega Nights," you're sure to enjoy the Captain. Needless to say, if you're a 7-year-old boy, this one is a shoo-in. As you'd expect from a work with "underpants" in the title, the book contains  some bathroom humor, but not nearly as much as I'd assumed before previewing it. Captain Underpants activities, including coloring pages ("Wedgie Power!"), can be found on Dav's site.

Scholastic, the series' publisher, recommends the books for ages 7 to 10.


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We love Captain Underpants, too. My son and I blogged about the first book this week:

(Truth be told, I resisted the Captain Underpants books ... until my son convinced me to read one. Since I couldn't keep myself from giggling uncontrollably, how could I deny him?)

Happy Banned Books Week!

Loree Burns

Another fan! Yessss!

Man, I love Captain Underpants. He's my hero.

I've seriously considered a career as Captain Underpants, but I don't tihnk I'd be much use in a situation calling for a real superhero, mainly because I'd be in hysterical fits of laughter because I'm wearing underpants. I'd probably want some kind of underpants set as headgear, though. Underpants-on-the-head is way too funny to not do.

And take it from me, an ADD-ish 20-year-old preschool teacher/full-time kid, the ability to get boys to read is farrrrrrrrr more important than "proper etiquette".

Amen, Daniel!

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