Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets by Dav Pilkey, was a special edition of the popular Captain Underpants series written for World Book Day. As such it is quite a bit shorter than the regular books, but just as silly.
I have already reviewed the first Captain Underpants book on this site. I chose to read it because it is oft quoted as one of the most banned books in the American library system and I really wanted to know what all the fuss was about.
Nothing, it turns out. It is not a terrible book. It has no swearing in it. It has no nudity in it. It has no sex in it. It has no underage drinking in it. Which is a bit of a shame considering all the hoo ha. It does have a lot of very silly, toilet based humour which will utterly delight the hearts of small boys everywhere.
I currently have a few boys who read to me at school who are into Captain Underpants so I thought it was time to dip my toe into the waters once again, and opted for this because it is short. I finished it in under an hour.
In this book, the heroes, George and Harold are miffed that they are not getting the chance to enter the school’s yearly invention contest, after the fiasco of the previous year when they had glued the entire school into their seats by inventing a heat reactive glue. The school principal, Mr. Krupp, who George and Harold once turned into Captain Underpants by accident, has banned them from competing.
Determined to get their own back, they sabotage all the entries for the fair and in the mayhem that ensues, manage to unleash a terrifying army of talking toilets, headed by a giant, robotic toilet, on the school. Principal Krupp is once again turned into Captain Underpants but manages to get swallowed by the toilets, and it is left to Harold and George to save the day.
As you might expect, the book is very, very silly indeed, and is jammed full of pranks and jokes that will give all children in your care ideas for months to come. The story lines are simple and action packed. The book is filled with cartoon style drawings, including what the author calls Flip-O-Rama, which is basically creating animated scenes by flipping the pages back and forth, and there is everything here to appeal to boys in particular, and reluctant readers to a man.
I would say, as a word of warning if you are giving this to children who have difficulties with reading that you will need to closely monitor progress. The text size is quite small and the type is rather idiosyncratic and not always easy to read. The comic strip sections which George and Harold are supposed to have written themselves are full of mis-spellings, which work brilliantly as jokes for confident readers, but which you do not want less confident children picking up and copying. The text, because of some of the comic book format, does not always read left to right either, and this can be confusing for children who struggle with reading, so do approach with caution in these circumstances.
These are squarely aimed at boy readers aged about 7 to 10, although there is no reason why girls should not read them, and would not enjoy them, but they are pretty much devoid of female characters and will appeal very much to a boy’s sense of humour.