Monday, April 26, 2010

Literary Love: Captain Underpants

Do I eagerly await each new installment in Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants series? I do not. But if the image of me snort-laughing at scatological reference after scatological reference makes this post more fun for you, then go ahead and imagine it.

That disclaimed, I did read the first book in the series when I TAed a children's lit class, and it made a favorable impression, even more so than I expected. I tend to fall into the camp that believes virtually anything that will help kids enjoy reading has value, even if some gatekeeper somewhere thinks it's not "quality literature." (There are exceptions, and my exceptions might be different from your exceptions, but isn't that sort of debate what makes this field so much fun?) Even before I picked up this tale of the toilet, I knew I liked the idea (perhaps more novel at The First Epic Novel's 1997 publication than it is in this era of Sir Fartsalot Hunts the Booger) that a mainstream book for kids would appeal to this most basic part of their developing senses of humor. I knew I was glad to see it legitimize something that kids liked even if their parents didn't want them to like it, and that it sent the message that they could find this sort of thing in books.

The happy surprise when I read the first book is that the series goes farther than I realized in that granting of legitimacy. Captain Underpants' adventures don't happen in the books' "reality." Instead, they are the stuff of a comic created by young George and Harold. In other words, something the kid characters write and draw gets to be the most important part of the book.

"Your ideas matter," the books tell young readers. "What you create matters. Even if it's about underpants."


  1. I also enjoy that they are usually attempting to buck the educational system through their comics. It has this interesting...I am making this because it entertains me and, as you said, because my ideas matter but ALSO because I deserve a little power here! so good.