Potty humor is alive and well (and surprisingly refreshing) in Dav Pilkey's delightful series featuring an unlikely and unwitting superhero named Captain Underpants, who is actually a school principal. This time out, troublemaker students George and Harold are desperate to curtail the evil doings of their teacher, Ms. Ribble, who swears she is going to flunk them both after they wreak all kinds of havoc throughout the school. But things go woefully awry after the boys use their special 3-D Hypno Ring to try to turn Ms. Ribble into a wimpy woman who will do whatever they tell her to. Instead, they create a dastardly villain with a deadly beehive hairdo filled with special robotic claws.
The end result is the perfect nemesis for our underwear-wearing superhero: a wildly wicked woman armed with plenty of spray starch and robotic claws that excel at giving whopping wedgies. It's up to Harold and George to save the day (and principal Krupp), but it's for certain that things will get much, much worse before they ever get better. Pilkey's penchant for puns makes the story as much fun for adults to read as it is for kids, even if some of the jokes are real groaners. Pilkey ratchets up the fun even more by alternating his kinetic illustrations and story text with several sections of homemade comics that provide some of the history behind Captain Underpants's creation. And of course, no Captain Underpants adventure would be complete without a few pages of Flip-O-Rama action to provide some cheap and cheesy animation for the fight scenes.
It may not be great literature, but this latest installment in the Captain Underpants series is flush with kiddie humor -- guaranteed to generate tons of giggles and keep young hands and minds busy for hours. (Beth Amos)