________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 9 . . . . January 5, 2001

cover Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredible Naughty Cafeteria Ladies From Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Lunchroom Zombie Nerds).

Dav Pilkey.
New York, NY: Scholastic (Distributed in Canada by Scholastic Canada), 1999.
134 pp., pbk., $4.99.
ISBN 0-439-04996-2.

Subject Headings:
Schools-Juvenile fiction.
School principals-Juvenile fiction.
Heroes-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3 - 5 / Ages 8 - 10.

Review by Ian Stewart.

*** /4


Soon Miss Anthrope entered the room.

She was dressed in a pink polka-dot polyester dress, with orthopedic knee-high stockings with ugly brown arch-support loafers.

"See?" said Harold. "She's dressed like a nerd!"

"She always dresses like that," snapped Mr. Krupp.

"But she's gray and clammy and reeks of freakish zombified death, cried George.

"She always smells like that!" Mr. Krupp argued, "And she's always gray and clammy, too."

George and Harold had to admit that school secretaries were not very good subjects to contrast with evil zombie nerds. But then, Miss Anthrope leaned over and took a huge bite out of Mr. Krupp's desk. "Must destroy Earth," she moaned as she took another bite. Even Mr. Krupp had to agree that Miss Anthrope was acting a bit more evil than usual.

      Evil space guys have landed on the roof of Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, and, because they are evil, they have hatched an evil plot to take over the world for their own evil ends. First they zombified the cafeteria ladies, then turned all the kids into zombie cafeteria nerds, and then they did a whole lot more evil stuff. Can they be stopped? You bet! Drooling space guys have no chance when they go up against Captain Underpants' weggie power and toilet paper of justice. Oh yes, George and Harold, a truly pesky twosome, help out; even the Dandelion of Doom cannot stop them from saving the world!

      Dave Pilkey's "Captain Underpants" books may be the literary equivalent of that great dance, the hokey-pokey or the classic song "Monster Mash," but an informal survey of grades 3, 4, and 5 students has provided proof that the puerile anarchistic adventures of Captain Underpants continue to drive small kids (and some middle-aged men) moderately insane with laughter. When asked the same questions, evil nerd teachers, zombified librarians and some educators gave the interviewer that well-known look that says: "What, are you an idiot?" However, $5.00 for a paperback is a small price for giving kids a few cheap yuks and guffaws.

      If we believe that laughter helps children, there is nothing wrong with going for the cheap laughs. There are too many children in our school system who don't have much to smile about.


Ian Stewart is a regular contributor to CM and the book review page of the Winnipeg Free Press.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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