Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Few things command disrespect like the sight of a man wearing whitie-tighties. However, the bald and barefoot Captain Underpants happens to be a superhero. As one character notes, "Most superheroes look like they're flying around in their underwear....Well, this guy actually is flying around in his underwear!" The Captain, defender of "Truth, Justice, and all that is Pre-Shrunk and Cottony," is the comic-book invention of two troublemaking fourth-graders, George and Harold. He comes to life after the boys use a mail-order device to hypnotize their diabolical school principal, who sheds his outergarments and battles crime in only a cape and Y-fronts. As his creators try to snap him out of the trance, Captain Underpants threatens bank robbers with "Wedgie Power" and foils the villainous Dr. Diaper (" `You know,' said George, `up until now this story was almost believable' "). Pilkey (Dog Breath) uses a sitcom-like formula to set up the rivalry between the boys and the principal, and to strip the authority figure of dignity. After a tepid exposition, he falls back on the notion that undies and mild bathroom humor are funny in themselves and, given his intended audience, he's probably right. Line drawings of the slapstick action appear on every page, and "Flip-O-Rama" climactic sequences create an agreeably corny "motion-picture" effect. But the lowbrow jokes (the Captain uses an elastic waistband to apprehend an evildoer) chiefly constitute this tale's harmless, non-gross appeal. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Karen Moroughan
Here's a chapter book filled with Dav Pilkey's offbeat humor. In a video for Scholastic, Pilkey admits that he invented the book's main heroic character in the second grade, where just the suggestion of bathroom humor was enough to send kids rollicking. So just who is Captain Underpants? The school principal, of course, so cleverly disguised that he himself doesn't know he's the good guy. The adventurous captain is duped into the role with the aid of a hypno-ring mail-ordered by two unruly boys. Pilkey's illustrations include a "flip-o-rama" chapter, which allows children to see movement and action cartoon-style.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4--Pilkey plays with words and pictures, providing great entertainment. The story is immediately engaging--two fourth-grade boys who write comic books and who love to pull pranks find themselves in big trouble. Mean Mr. Krupp, their principal, videotapes George and Harold setting up their stunts and threatens to expose them. The boys' luck changes when they send for a 3-D Hypno-Ring and hypnotize Krupp, turning him into Captain Underpants, their own superhero creation. Later, Pilkey includes several pages of flip-o-ramas that animate the action. The simple black-and-white illustrations on every page furnish comic-strip appeal. The cover features Captain Underpants, resplendent in white briefs, on top of a tall building. This book will fly off the shelves.--Mary M. Hopf, Los Angeles Public Library
In the fine old tradition of James Marshall's Cut-Ups, Pilkey (God Bless the Gargoyles, 1996, etc.) introduces George Beard and Harold Hutchins, two usually responsible fourth-graders, as in "whenever anything bad happened, George and Harold were usually responsible."
Pranksters of the first order, George and Harold are finally nabbed by Mr. Krupp, the principal, whom they then hypnotize into believing he's Captain Underpants, a superhero of their own creation. Before they can stop him, he's out the window in cape and briefs, off to fight crime with Wedgie Power, taking on bank robbers, robot thieves" `You know,' said George, `up until now this story was almost believable!' "and ultimately the evil Dr. Diaper. Distracting Dr. Diaper with some "fake doggy doo- doo," the boys save the planet, then hustle Krupp back into his clothes, just in time fortheir next adventure, The Attack of the Talking Toilets, coming soon. Pilkey's stubby black-and-white cartoon figures appear on every page but can be animated in one chapter, thanks to "Flip-O-Rama," where readers flip pages back and forth for the "latest in cheesy animation technology." There'll be no silence in the library once readers get hold of this somewhat classier alternative to Barf-o-Rama books and their crude ilk.