Swankivy's Reviews > Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers

Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinklet... by Dav Pilkey
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Jun 20, 14

Read from June 13 to 20, 2014

More of the usual hilarity with a surprisingly subversive message for the older crowd sometimes. Pilkey uses a fair number of large words in this volume--refreshing that he doesn't talk down to kids, you know?--and I love how he repeatedly compares life in prison to everyday life in school. The book also contains great lines like the following: "He proudly bragged about his great humility, confessed his intense hatred of intolerant people, and spoke for hours about his legendary brevity." And the illustrations do their own part in moving our heroes along, and they're similarly full of goofy messages. (At one point the text points out that a store is having its Annual Lazy Storytelling Sale as a quick way to get a cape onto the superhero.)

I also love that the time-traveling hijinks allowed us to "go back in time" and see how George and Harold met! I especially love precocious George, who wears a tie and rescues Harold from bullies. I also have to say it's wonderful that an adult writer remembers how the world seems to children--big people have all the power, and they use it unfairly, and seem to delight in kids' sorrow even though most mainstream narratives insist that all adults want what's best for kids unless they're monsters. There are a lot of everyday monsters out there, and it's perfectly common for those to be adult bullies in kids' lives--their teachers, their trusted adults who believe nasty people's "side" over theirs, the random grown-ups who don't stop injustices because they think kids are "learning their lesson" or taking deserved hard knocks. But kids often have a strong sense of justice, and all this teaches them is that adults can be jerks too. And he even threw in a joke about how the 1980s were basically long enough ago to be considered prehistoric. Haw haw haw.

The only thing I didn't like is that the good guys decided to get the bad guy back by getting his buddies to think he liked "girly" things in order to shame him, and suggested this was a sign of losing his mind. They make the bully's friends think he's into friendship bracelets, princess parties, dresses, and dolls, which seemed kind of cheap. On the one hand, this kind of guy WOULD be enraged by anyone "accusing" him of liking those things and trying to "frame" him. On the other hand, it's kinda crappy to make it self-evident that this would be embarrassing for a boy, to be associated with "girl things." What about the boys who do like dolls, etc.? We don't really need more narratives that teach boys that the worst thing that could happen to you is to get compared to a girl. Not to mention that our heroes steal the bully's cell phone to text embarrassing things to his friends when everyone knows he's at wrestling practice; he could have used the time stamp on the texts to make it really clear he's being framed, so everyone not believing him is kinda silly (even for a silly book). Wasn't too thrilled about the inclusion of a g*psy curse, either, though it is the kind of thing little boys probably would write a comic about if they were ignorant of why that's not cool.

Ultimately, though, this next-to-last book in a very silly series does a decent job holding the attention of its core audience, and the plot--while convoluted--is lots of fun.
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Reading Progress

06/13 marked as: currently-reading
06/20 marked as: read

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