The Adventures of Captain Underpants
"When naughty George and Harold hypnotise their headteacher, they accidentally create the greatest superhero in the history of their school -- Captain Underpants! His true identity is so secret that even HE doesn't know who he is... but he's fighting for truth, justice, and all things pre-shrunk and cottony!"
In my review of The Popcorn Pirates, I said that I consider the best children’s books to be the ones that manage the fine line of being enjoyable to both children and their parents.
I believe strongly in the importance of parents reading to their offspring and I feel that it’s far more likely to succeed if both parties enjoy the material.
Captain Underpants is one of those rare gems that fall into that category. It is the tale of two children, George & Harold who hypnotise their grumpy Principal Mr Krupp and accidentally turn him into do-gooding crime fighter Captain Underpants.
Cue a lot of opportunities for deliberately crass, crude toilet humour but also a good number of pretty Meta moments that are genuinely funny for adults (of course I’m sure a good few adults will enjoy the toilet humour too).
The first book in the series involves a tiny mad scientist in a diaper but later books in the series feature evil talking toilets, mutant boogers and a medusa-like woman with wedgie giving hair.
The books are a brilliant mix of styles, there are traditional story passages with superb illustrations by Pilkey himself but there are also short “comic books” drawn in the childish style of George and Harold and the fun “Flip-o-rama” sections where the fight scenes are drawn on two separate pages which the reader can flip quickly between providing animation. It’s such a cool idea and I’m surprised that it hadn’t made it into this kind of book before.
Captain Underpants is a great series with a cast of loveable, imaginative characters with a great mix of stupid and smart humour.
I first discovered the series well after the target age and I’ve now read the majority of books. As I mentioned in my opening, I believe strongly in the importance of parents reading with their children and this is definitely a series that I will be enjoying with my future kids.