Prepublication Reviews and Expertly Selected Title Lists

Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers by Dav Pilkey

My brother’s favorite books as a kid were Captain Underpants adventures. Being almost ten years older than him, I never bothered to pick one up, and just assumed they were books designed for young boys with lots of fart jokes and potty humor. After having read the ninth adventure, Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers, I still think that’s exactly what they are, but it’s definitely a good thing.

This installment picks up where the last one left off—George and Harold are going to jail for the rest of their lives. They, along with Mr. Krupp, aka Captain Underpants, were framed in a bank robbery, and nobody believed their innocence. However, Tippy Tinkletrousers traveled backwards in time and messed with the ending. Therefore, this book decides to tell the story of what was supposed to happen.

George, Harold, and Mr. Krupp were supposed to go to jail, and be there for quite a long time. Tippy Tinkletrousers was supposed to be there with Mr. Krupp, and trick the warden into letting him design a robot to break free and go after Captain Underpants. During his battle with Captain Underpants, he was to travel five years into the past, where George and Harold are kindergarteners dealing with Kipper Krupp, the sixth grade bully, and have to outsmart him on their own, since they haven’t yet created Captain Underpants.

As described in the banana cream pie paradox at the beginning of the book, time travel has consequences, and boy are there serious consequences for Tippy, George, Harold, and the whole Earth after this adventure. Good thing there’s the final conclusion to the Captain Underpants saga coming in January 2013!

I can see why my brother liked these books so much. The language in both the narrative and the comic strips is realistic and heavy on the potty humor. It’s also very masculine, by which I mean a lot of the humor is drawn from the idea that a boy couldn’t possibly be interested in girly things. In a more serious work, it might be considered a little un-PC, but it definitely works in Pilkey’s boy-centric book.

In a time when getting boys to read is becoming more difficult, having books like Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of the Tippy Tinkletrousers, and the rest of the Captain Underpants adventures, on library shelves should make it easier to turn reluctant male readers into fans. I would bet if you gave this book to any boy under the age of ten, he would be laughing so hard less than a quarter of the way through, that he would have to finish it. That to me is a sign of a well-done children’s book, and Pilkey has mastered it.


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