Sunday, February 28, 2016

RA RA Read: Captain Underpants and other gross and silly books

Captain Underpants is a super popular series with boys and girls alike who love gross humor and off the wall silliness. This series appeals most to younger kids, who aren't ready for the more sophisticated humor of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Generally the cut-off for which my audience will enjoy Captain Underpants is between 4th and 5th grade (what Ms. Yingling calls "The Pilkey Line") Some Captain Underpants books are a mixture of text and comics (what I like to call graphic blends), while others are all comics.

There are currently 12 books in the Captain Underpants series, with a new title coming this August (Dog Man - although labeled as Captain Underpants I'm not sure it actually is in that series). There are two Super Diaper Baby books - these are all comics. The Adventures of Ook and Gluk is a stand-alone.

Pilkey's Ricky Ricotta series has 8 books. They are being reissued with new art by Dan Santat. You will occasionally get kids asking for sequels, because there are fake ads in the back of some of the books but there are only 8!

Read-alikes for Captain Underpants (comics)
  • Lunch Lady by Jarrett Krosoczka 
    • There are 10 titles in this series. They're more funny/adventure than potty humor, but have the same light touch and irreverant attitude. 
  • Fangbone! Third Grade Barbarian by Michael Rex 
    • This is a trilogy about a barbarian who gets transported to earth - specifically to a third grade special education classroom. It's funny and gross and empowering and also, unfortunately, only partly still in print. The paperbacks don't hold together well, so if you're going to look for it try to find prebound copies. 
  • Knuckle and Potty Destroy Happy World by James Proimos (ISBN: 9780805091557) 
    • This is a stand-alone title about two book characters who are tired of their saccharine stories. 
Read-alikes for Captain Underpants (chapter books)
  • Melvin Beederman by Greg Trine 
    • There are 8 books in this series, which is basically a prose version of Captain Underpants, more or less. Unfortunately, I've never been able to get kids really into them. 
  • Super Chicken Nugget Boy by Josh Lewis 
    • 4 titles in this series of a boy who turns into a superhero. A giant chicken nugget superhero. It's a little more challenging of a read, but it's a good choice for younger kids who like the gross and silly but are able to read longer chapters. 
  • Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist by Jim Benton 
    • This funny series features a girl who's a mad scientist and her wacky adventures. 
  • Vordak the Incomprehensible by Scott Seeger 
    • There are three books in this series from a super villain's perspective. Things don't quite go his way, but that doesn't stop him from grandiose plans and teaching his audience just how to be the best evil villain they can be (only not the best ever because that's for Vordak the Incomprehensible) 
Read-alikes for Captain Underpants (graphic blends)
  • Danny Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon 
    • The 11th and final title has just been published (sob). The humor in these is different - it's more snarky and tongue-in-cheek, but they're still a great read-alike for kids who like funny and some comics. 
  • Andy Griffiths 
    • Griffiths is sort of the Australian Pilkey, but be aware that his books dial the gross and irreverant factor way, WAY up. Killer Koalas especially is really out there. However, kids love them and the scratchy illustrations that fill them as well. He has several series and stand-alones as well as some easy readers. 
    • 13-Story Treehouse, 26-Story Treehouse, 52-Story Treehouse 
    • Killer Koalas from Outer Space 
    • The big fat cow that goes kapow (easy reader)

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