It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s a review of Captain Underpants!
The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey follows two elementary school best friends who love to cause trouble and school and draw comics. After a prank at a football game lands them in major trouble, the two boys decide to hypnotize their principal in order to avoid punishment. Inadvertently, the turn their principal into their comic book creation, Captain Underpants.
Over the summer, I saw a full-length feature film of Captain Underpants was being released. Seeing the trailer brought me back to second grade where I devoured the Nancy Drew, Dear America, and Babysitter’s Club series. I distinctly remember seeing many of the boys in my class reading a series completely different than my own–The Captain Underpants series. With underwear and toilets slapped on the covers, my first though upon seeing a Captain Underpants book was ew, gross, or any unflattering word that a second grader could imagine.
Now, much older, I decided to give The Adventures of Captain Underpants a shot. Just from reading this series, I can tell you that I won’t be for everyone, especially parents put off by potty humor and boys that weasel their way out of trouble. However, after reading the first book in this series, I actually enjoyed the first book and can see how many younger readers would do the same.
I think the biggest aspect of this book that I enjoyed was the author’s personal connection. In the author’s biography at the end of the book, Dav Pilkey remembers how his story mirrors the characters in the book. Like the boys in Captain Underpants, Dav Pilkey also played practical jokes, created comics books, and caused his teacher’s strife who told him “to straighten up because he could never make a living creating silly books.” Additionally, Pilkey actually created the character Captain Underpants in second grade. I enjoyed learning more about the series’ creation and it made me appreciate this book even more.
Another aspects of this book that I really enjoyed was its interactive features. At one point in the book, you flip the pages really fast to “animate” the book. I can imagine young readers really enjoying this part of the book. I also enjoyed how the book also incorporated comics that the main characters made. As an adult, it was funny to see how they spelled certain words, the pictures that they drew, and the story lines that they created.
While Captain Underpants isn’t my favorite early chapter book, I have a greater appreciation for this book than I did in the second grade. It definitely isn’t for everyone, but it is a quick read with a lot of enjoyable features. I give The Adventures of Captain Underpants four out of five stars.