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A READER'S JOURNAL
The Adventures of Captain Underpants
An Epic Novel
Published by Scholastic Inc./NY in 1997
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2002
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If you judge this book by its cover, you're not likely to pick it up at all. On the cover is the newest superhero of your grade schoolers, Captain Underpants, in his jockey shorts. Not the red silky ones like Superman wears, not the dark blue ones of Batman, nor the forest green ones of Robin, but the white ones with the elastic waistband, and the handy front access flap that most men wear. This is truly a minimalist superhero! To be ready to fight for truth, justice, and all that is pre-shrunk and cottony, all he need do is remove all his outer garments and find a red curtain to tie around his neck! Something a principal can find around almost any elementary school. Yes, our superhero has a day job as an elementary school principal, the anything but mild-mannered principal of Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, Mr. Krupp. Stripped for action, Captain Underpants takes flight with a mighty "Tra- la - Laaaaa!"
See Harold, he's the one with the tie, and George, the tee shirt and bad haircut. "Remember that now." What's interesting is that this description is repeated in every issue right at the beginning of the book, complete with a drawing of Harold and George that seems to definitely indicate in a minimalist fashion that Harold is black, but it's an element of today's world that no one pays attention to that aspect. Remember that now. Harold and George are two friends who are fighting their battle to keep their creativity intact through the stultifying long hours of elementary school. When faced with a challenge they draw a comic book called Captain Underpants to deal with the problem. Soon their comic book comes to attention of Mr. Krupp, whose life's ambition is to do a creativity-ectomy on our two heroes as soon as possible.
Harold and George are desperate to hold onto to their creativity and soon Mr. Krupp ends up becoming a real-life Captain Underpants. The comic book takes flight, so to speak. Of course, Mr. Krupp doesn't know that whenever someone snaps their fingers that he takes off all his clothes except his underpants and flies off to fight evil and other fun things with a mighty "TRA LA LAAAA!", but that only adds to the fun.
Like in any outstanding elementary school, the gym teacher is a very important person. That explains why when someone yells, "The Incredible Hulk ate up 15 folding chairs and the gym teacher!" someone else yells, "Oh no! Not the folding chairs!" Naturally, this is a running joke in each book. After all it's the gym teacher who makes everyone do the running. No joke, the gym teacher.
No, I'm not going to review all five of these books and spoil your chance for spontaneous laughter by giving away the jokes and the plots. But just to whet your appetite for some grade school fun so matter what your age, here are the titles of the other four books:
Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets
Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds)
Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants
Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman
When the Wicked Wedgie Woman has the super strength potion poured over her hair, Harold and George think that she's safe from developing super powers as Mr. Krupp did when he drank the same potion. Well, her hair got superpowers and allowed her to perform multiple wedgies at the same time. You can only giggle like a school kid when you see her propping well-wedgied cops on stop signs all around town. This is not serious comedy, it's just plain fun comedy.
Wonder who will play Captain Underpants in the movie version? The principal in Ferris Bueller's Day Off would be an ideal candidate. Rocky and Bullwinkle, move over, there's a new superhero taking off. Can you hear him taking off right now?
"Tra La LAAAAA!"
Any questions about this review, Contact: Bobby Matherne
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