I was first introduced to Dav Pilkey’s work by a girlfriend back at Crazy Go Nuts University. She gave me a copy of The Dumb Bunnies, which Pilkey illustrated in his trademark style and is in my opinion, one of the best children’s books ever. There’s a copy right by my coffee table; drop by if you’re interested in giving it a read.
A couple of years later, I would discover that Pilkey was also a writer at the annual “Word on the Street” street fair, where Queen Street West is closed off to traffic so that bookstores and publishers of all stripes can sell their wares and authors can meet and read to their public. That’s where I discovered the “Captain Underpants” series in the form of the book Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants.
Yes, I’m serious. That is the title of the book, and I’m not making it up.
The Captain Underpants stories star two best friends, George and Harold, two smart kids with a penchant for mischief and mayhem, who somehow manage to hypnotize their hard-nosed killjoy of a school principal into believing he’s a superhero. Not any any ordinary superhero, mind you, but one who wears only a cape and his “tighty-whitey” cotton briefs. By coincidence and a freak accident, the principal actually gets super powers.
The real heroes of the stories are George and Harold, who not only created the good Captain, but also through their plotting and scheming, manipulate the Captain into saving the day. They’re the sort of smart kids who did poorly at school, finding standard academia so mind-numbingly dull and using their creative energies on writing, cartooning, playing pranks and getting into trouble. (Kind of like this accordion player I know…)
Through Metafilter, I found the blog Librarians Are Corrupting Kids, which led me to this USA Today interview with Pilkey, which in turn led me to his site, which contains his wonderful cartoon autobiography, The Almost Completely True Adventures of Dav Pilkey.
(You’ve got to love a guy who describes stories about his life as “adventures”!)