Friday, July 27, 2012

Captain Underpants

Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers
Title: Captain Underpants series 
Author: Dav Pilkey
Illustrator: Dav Pilkey
Publisher: Scholastic Children's Books
Publication Date: 1997 to 2012
Genre/Format: Fantasy-Humor/Illustrated Novel
Goodreads Summary of Adventure of Captain Underpants (#1)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.
What I Think: Ever since I started teaching I have had Captain Underpants fans in my classroom. Readers (especially boys) love these books. This last year, when I taught intensive reading, my students loved that I read so much but were astonished that I had never read a Captain Underpants book, so I promised them this summer that I would read the entire series.  And suprsingly, I am happy I did. I enjoyed the books so much and I found many different ways that I could use in the series in classroom. As I read I not only enjoyed the stories (well most of them, the booger one was quite gross) but kept notes on different ways each book could be a mentor text.  I know that students already love the books so I would love to be able to use them in the classroom. 
     Some of my favorite things that are addressed in the series are spelling, grammar and vocabulary. The spelling is not directly addressed; however, Harold and George misspell a lot of words and it would be good to use to talk about phonics and spelling.  Also, each book begins with an anagram which is great word play.  The grammar is sporadic only showing up in some books, but the vocabulary is in all of them.  Some vocabulary I found was billowing, narratively convenient, fizzled, improbability, jubilant, mock, scurried, and merciless and that is just in book 3! Each book also has some great alliteration- each title alone has alliteration in them. There are also allusions, puns (mostly in the flip-o-ramas) and onomatopoeias. 
     Lastly, I love the set up of the novels. They are a great mix of novel, graphic novel, comics, and picture books. It is a great transition between picture books and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I especially like the flip-o-ramas. They are unique to the Captain Underpants books and I think it puts a great interactive and kinesthetic feel to the books. 
     One thing I do not understand is why these books are challenged. Yes, they have some potty humor. Yes, the adults aren't the best representation of teachers. Yes, it is silly. But they are harmless and actually have some really great qualities to them. 
Read Together: Grades 2 to 7
Read Alone: Grades 3 to 6
Read With: Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney, Big Nate series by Lincoln Peirce, Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald, The Adventures of Ook & Gluk by Dav Pilkey, The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby by Dav Pilkey, Lunch Lady series by Jarrett Krosoczka, Frankie Pickle series by Eric Wight
Snatch of Text: "Warden Schmorden was known far and wide for his cruelty and strictness. He once sentenced a prisoner to a year of solitary confinement for ending a sentence with a preposition." (#9, p. 36) 

"'I've heard a lot about you two, said the rabbi, 'and I don't want you boys playing any of your tricks today.'
     'Silly Rabbi,' said George, 'tricks are for kids!'" (#5, p. 55) 

"[H]e had his won personal drinking fountain, because . . . well, would you use a drinking fountain after a Bionic Booger Boy had globbered all over it?" (#6, p. 98)

Also, check out some flip-o-ramas by going to Scholastic's click-o-rama site. The puns are hilarious. 
Mentor Text for: Allusions, Onomatopoeia, Grammar, Paradox, Rhyming, Alliteration, Spelling, Vocabulary Development, Anagram, Comics/Paneling, Puns
Writing Prompts: In the first Captain Underpants, Harold and George brainstorm a superhero including his name and then create a comic based on their superhero. With a partner, brainstorm a name for a superhero and then complete a story to go along with your superhero. To expand it even more, complete a comic for your superhero. 
Topics Covered: Comics, Humor, School, Science, Math
I *heart* Adventures of Captain Underpants and most of the series including the newest Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers:

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