Captain Underpants by Dav Pilney

Captain Underpants – Dav Pilney

What can you say about a book that young boys love, teachers and school librarians hate (generally ~ or at least disapprove of) and have characters such as Captain Underpants (the superhero), Dr. Diaper (the evil villain, also known as the school principal) and make use of rubber doggy doo-doo and Wedgie Power? Well, apparently you can say a lot. While reading this book in a public place, not one adult was able to pass by  without exclaiming “Captain Underpants! I know this book”! And several complete strangers felt compelled to tell me their stories about the love their son has/had of it, while also expressing a slight distaste for it. The words “potty humor” kept appearing.

Well, this little book has this effect on adults. Much like RL Stine. Academics, teachers and many parents love to hate these books. However, some young readers love them. Especially young male readers. And if this love with potty humor gets them reading, and keeps them reading then Dav Pilney is doing his job.   Captain Underpants is the creation of 2 pranksters – George and Harold. Troublemakers, these practical jokers manage to get into numerous scrapes and pranks. They are the boys in  class that often made teachers and classmates groan.

Of course, it is possible to discuss in great detail the pros and cons of reading fine writing, great literature, creative storytelling versus what might be called trashy books. But with reading experiencing an alarming decline in the US and young male readers often leading this trend it is much better to keep them to reading so they feel comfortable, enjoy it, and do it with greater ease. This might just help them to stay on the reading path.

However, maybe getting young people to read, and love to read isn’t really what it should be about. Despite Captain Underpants offering to keep young readers glued to the page apparently it tops the list(s) for being the most challenged book, especially in 2012. HERE, HERE, and HERE.  It actually is on the Banned Book list. It makes you wonder why? With television full of so much material that isn’t appropriate, video games that have little or no merit beyond hand /eye coordination in the application of weapon use how harmful and damaging is a book with potty humor?

Maybe some of the people wanting to ban the book should actually read it.

M.O.M.

The Three Little Pigs by Roald Dahl

After yesterdays intense and serious poem, that really needed to be read with a furrowed brow from the concentration today we have something different. The story we all know (and if not, why not?) but this is from the creative mind of the master storyteller Roald Dahl. From his fabulous collection Revolting Rhymes, definitely worth checking out from your library. Full of of wacky poems with illustrations by Quentin Blake it makes great reading for all ages.

The Three Little Pigs from Revolting Rhymes ~ Roald Dahl

The animal I really dig,
Above all others is the pig.
Pigs are noble. Pigs are clever,
Pigs are courteous. However,
Now and then, to break this rule,
One meets a pig who is a fool.
What, for example, would you say,
If strolling through the woods one day,
Right there in front of you you saw
A pig who’d built his house of STRAW?
The Wolf who saw it licked his lips,
And said, ‘That pig has had his chips.’
‘Little pig, little pig, let me come in!’
‘No, no, by the hairs on my chinny-chin-chin!’
‘Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in!

The little pig began to pray,
But Wolfie blew his house away.
He shouted, ‘Bacon, pork and ham!
Oh, what a lucky Wolf I am!’
And though he ate the pig quite fast,
He carefully kept the tail till last.
Wolf wandered on, a trifle bloated.
Surprise, surprise, for soon he noted
Another little house for pigs,
And this one had been built of TWIGS!

‘Little pig, little pig, let me come in!’
‘No, no, by the hairs on my chinny-chin-chin!’
‘Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in!’

The Wolf said, ‘Okay, here we go!’
He then began to blow and blow.
The little pig began to squeal.
He cried, ‘Oh Wolf, you’ve had one meal!
Why can’t we talk and make a deal?
The Wolf replied, ‘Not on your nelly!’
And soon the pig was in his belly.

‘Two juicy little pigs!’ Wolf cried,
‘But still I’m not quite satisfied!
I know how full my tummy’s bulging,
But oh, how I adore indulging.’
So creeping quietly as a mouse,
The Wolf approached another house,
A house which also had inside
A little piggy trying to hide.
‘You’ll not get me!’ the Piggy cried.
‘I’ll blow you down!’ the Wolf replied.
‘You’ll need,’ Pig said, ‘a lot of puff,
And I don’t think you’ve got enough.’
Wolf huffed and puffed and blew and blew.
The house stayed up as good as new.
‘If I can’t blow it down,’ Wolf said,
I’ll have to blow it up instead.
I’ll come back in the dead of night
And blow it up with dynamite!’
Pig cried, ‘You brute! I might have known!’
Then, picking up the telephone,
He dialed as quickly as he could
The number of red Riding Hood.

‘Hello,’ she said. ‘Who’s speaking? Who?
Oh, hello, Piggy, how d’you do?’
Pig cried, ‘I need your help, Miss Hood!
Oh help me, please! D’you think you could?’
‘I’ll try of course,’ Miss Hood replied.
‘What’s on your mind…?’ ‘A Wolf!’ Pig cried.
‘I know you’ve dealt with wolves before,
And now I’ve got one at my door!’

‘My darling Pig,’ she said, ‘my sweet,
That’s something really up my street.
I’ve just begun to wash my hair.
But when it’s dry, I’ll be right there.’

A short while later, through the wood,
Came striding brave Miss Riding Hood.
The Wolf stood there, his eyes ablaze,
And yellowish, like mayonnaise.
His teeth were sharp, his gums were raw,
And spit was dripping from his jaw.
Once more the maiden’s eyelid flickers.
She draws the pistol from her knickers.
Once more she hits the vital spot,
And kills him with a single shot.
Pig, peeping through the window, stood
And yelled, ‘Well done, Miss Riding Hood!’

Ah, Piglet, you must never trust
Young ladies from the upper crust.
For now, Miss Riding Hood, one notes,
Not only has two wolfskin coats,
But when she goes from place to place,
She has a PIGSKIN TRAVELING CASE.

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Cover of "American Born Chinese"

Cover of American Born Chinese

Summary

Amazon.com

“Indie graphic novelist Gene Yang’s intelligent and emotionally challenging American Born Chinese is made up of three individual plotlines: the determined efforts of the Chinese folk hero Monkey King to shed his humble roots and be revered as a god; the struggles faced by Jin Wang, a lonely Asian American middle school student who would do anything to fit in with his white classmates; and the sitcom plight of Danny, an All-American teen so shamed by his Chinese cousin Chin-Kee (a purposefully painful ethnic stereotype) that he is forced to change schools. Each story works well on its own, but Yang engineers a clever convergence of these parallel tales into a powerful climax that destroys the hateful stereotype of Chin-Kee, while leaving both Jin Wang and the Monkey King satisfied and happy to be who they are….”

Review

I have not read a graphic novel for quite a long time. Well, I do not believe I have ever read an authentic graphic novel, I have read a Warrior Series graphic novel but I am not sure if that qualifies.

This book was quite interesting. I am usually not a person who reads graphic novels because I feel that it does not give me the satisfaction of a regular book. I like to have to use my imagination  to see the characters and I like to see them in my own eyes. When you read a graphic novel, the characters are drawn for you. There is no imagination involved as you read the captions to go along with the story. Graphic novel’s, I believe, are for reluctant readers. They get you to read as they are good stories but they do not require a lot of concentration. I read this book in under a day as it was so simple. Do not get me wrong, it was a good book and the pictures were well done, but I personally do not like .

The pictures in this book were well done. I do like graphic novel drawings. They are a unique style of drawing and I respect people who can do it as it is quite an amazing art form. It was also a humorous book. Not like splitting your sides funny but it had its moments.

I personally believe that this is really a boy book though. There was no violence as such (even though at one point someone got speared and put over a spit but is saved) but the story line just came across to me as being a boy type of story line. I cannot explain how but that is the vibe that I got.

This book was a National Book Award Finalist. It also won a Michael L. Printz Award for young adult literature.

I would recommend you to read the book as it is a graphic novel and it is a good change from reading a regular book. I hope that you enjoy.

If you have read it tell me what you think about it.

Who Was Ben Franklin? By Dennis Brindell Fradin Illustrated by John O’Brien

Who Was Ben Franklin? By Dennis Brindell Fradin Illustrated by John O’Brien

Late winter and spring is the time in school when many students read biographies of famous people. Starting in the lower grades youngsters scramble trying to find someone who is interesting enough to read about and write an assignment on and maybe even present it in character. Athletes, pop stars and others compete with famous historical characters. Here they learn about their lives, discover what their accomplishments were, what hardships and challenges they faced and hopefully they will see them as role models. (Maybe better they choose someone from times past than now as some of the more famous make poor role models) The range of biographies available for the younger to middle school readers is quite vast and there are many to choose from. The authors of these books manage to pack a lot of information into them, while making the person seem real and authentic.

Who Was Ben Franklin” is in the series Who Was…? which includes famous names such are Albert Einstein, Ferdinand Magellan, John Kennedy to name a few. The books are literally crammed full of information with interesting and amusing illustrations to highlight points of the person’s life, or to visually present something that was discussed. The series is aimed at the lower grade students (grades 2-5) and is presented in an interesting and engaging style with comic book style illustrations. The books are small with a large font, well spaced so that the page isn’t overwhelming for beginner or early independent readers.

“Who Was Ben Franklin” is packed full of information on the founding father. From his youth Ben Franklin’s life is described in reasonable detail (spoiler alert – he did ‘t really come from a loving home) and his thirst for adventure, his curiosity and great mind is obvious. Each of his contributions is covered and at times they are mesmerizing. How could one man accomplish so much in his life? As the opening section states he was “a man of many talents” and  “did so much that people claimed he had magical powers.” Inventor, statesman, scientist and quite a young rogue Ben’s many accomplishments and life story are presented in a very readable manner.

I quite liked this book and certainly learned a lot about Ben Franklin. I thought I knew about his life, but was I wrong. Dennis Brindell Fradin has done a wonderful job of packing so much information into this really slim book.

Talk Among Yourselves Tuesday – A Day Late

Yesterday it was audio book apps to entertain the children. Nice idea, real stories, real voices. Today NPR reported on kids books that leap off the page and are interactive. Here. It seems that publishers want to draw younger readers into an interactive world where they can become part of the story and characters. “These multi-platform books allow kids to move seamlessly from the printed page to the digital page, and are designed to appeal to both the avid and reluctant readers.” Without doubt many young readers will be attracted to this.

But here is the question. Does this help them to read? To learn to love reading? Going into an interactive world is another thing, uses a different part of the brain. Deepens their reliance on technology. Is a distraction.

Good idea or not?

Comments please.

I know where I stand.

Why Do Readers Everywhere Love March 2nd?

by Guest Blogger M.O.M.

Because March 2nd is the birthday of  Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known to countless readers as Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss was a writer and cartoonist who is best known as the author of beloved children’s books. His books contain wacky characters, make use of rhyme and are fun to read. His gift at writing for the young provided entertaining and accessible books for the younger reader. His clever use of language begs to be read out loud and watching the faces of young listeners enthralled in the humor and silliness, hides the craft of what Dr. Seuss created.

Dr. Seuss’s birthday is celebrated across the United States with Read Across America which motivates and encourages children to read and be read to. And in honor of this special day many schools encourage their students to come to school in their pajamas so that they can read while comfy and cozy.

In honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday why don’t you pick up a book and read ~ either by yourself, or with a friend. And what better day than today to discover Dr. Seuss?

To help and encourage you here are some websites that make it really fun.

Click here to go to the home of Dr. Seuss on the web. It has so many fun things to check out, and really cute music.

Click here to download some Dr. Seuss books and read them. What could be easier than that?