Sunday, February 11, 2018

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 (if you can call it that) 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.

In addition to the classic Captain Underpants books, currently being continued and republished in full color, Pilkey has several other series.

  • Ricky Ricotta (available both in black and white and in full color by Dan Santat)
  • Super Diaper Baby
  • Adventures of Ook and Gluk
  • Dog Man

Read-alikes for Captain Underpants (comics)
  • Lunch Lady by Jarrett Krosoczka 
    • These are 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. 
  • Tyrannosaurus Ralph by Nate Evans
    • This is a new graphic novel series featuring a wimpy boy who gets his brain transplanted into a dinosaur - and himself transported off earth to fight in an alien arena.
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 was published in 2016 (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. 
  • Tom Watson
    • Watson's series include the Stick Dog and Stick Cat titles. They're much less gross than Pilkey, especially since they feature animals and not humans, but they often appeal to a wider range of kids and parents like them better than Pilkey.
  • 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 (series)
    • Killer Koalas from Outer Space 
    • The big fat cow that goes kapow

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