Aye, Aye, Captains!
by Judy Newman with Alexie Basil
I have known and loved many captains in my day.
Captain Kangaroo, who, along with Mr. Green Jeans, starred in the only television show I was allowed to watch when I was very young.
Captain Kirk—although honestly I wasn’t that in to Star Trek.
Cap’n Crunch. I loved the way they abbreviated “Captain”—and honestly could eat a whole box of this “sweetened corn and oat cereal” in one sitting.
Even though they called him the Skipper (“brave and sure!”) on Gilligan’s Island—he was always a captain to me. I bet you just started singing that theme song in your head.
Captain Newman, M.D., which was a book by Leo Calvin Rosten, a movie directed by David Miller, and my dad’s rank in the army.
While each of these captains made a lasting impression on me (and, of course, my dad is in his own category!), there’s another captain who, for 20 years, has played a hugely significant role in my life. He is the one and only Captain Underpants.
I was in the meeting at Scholastic when the first book in Dav Pilkey’s groundbreaking, kid-loved, and instantly bestselling series was presented. Since then, I have watched Captain Underpants and George and Harold turn millions and millions of kids on to reading. I hear from parents and teachers virtually every week of the year who credit Dav’s superhero with inspiring the children in their lives to become readers. Back then, based on experience, we knew funny books were especially good at hooking even reluctant readers. Years later, the latest Kids & Family Reading Report confirms it, where 4 in 10 kids and parents “just want a good story” when choosing a book for fun.
Dav is a Caldecott Honor artist and stands by his mantra that “Reading gives you superpowers!” There are more than 80 million copies of Captain Underpants books in print…and now the series will reach a whole new audience with the release of the first-ever Captain Underpants movie! It is based on the first and fourth books and is absolutely hilarious.
If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, definitely check it out at a theater near you—after you read the books, of course!
Just this morning, when I walked into my Scholastic office in SoHo, New York City, I saw Captain Underpants and Dog Man, of course everywhere!
To celebrate Dav’s new movie from DreamWorks, this week’s Dollar Deal book is The Adventures of Captain Underpants—the book that started it all! The story stars two fourth graders, George and Harold, who are constantly pulling pranks…until they are caught by their evil principal, Mr. Krupp. To escape, they hypnotize Mr. Krupp into believing he’s their made-up superhero, Captain Underpants.
What People Are Saying
“[Parents will] appreciate children laughing as they dive in and page through this old-fashioned thing called a book.” —The New York Times
David Vozar is also a super fan of Dav Pilkey and Captain Underpants. But unlike me, when he was a kid, other captains did not figure so prominently in his life (although he does like Cap’n Crunch cereal!). But David traces his love of Captain Underpants—and reading the books with his son, Leo—to his childhood love of superheroes.
“I grew up on a dead-end street in a secluded suburb. There were only six houses on Spring Street, but there were eleven boys who were all in elementary school. This meant easy pick-up games for football and baseball. It also meant there were moments of spontaneous crazy play!
“I remember looking out the window and seeing one of the guys running around like a maniac with a flowing cape. He had a towel tied around his neck and he was making believe he could fly.
“In a flash, he was joined with five or more of us all with towel capes, running and jumping and laughing. It was an exhilarating feeling. There is something about running with a cape that makes it easy to believe you have superpowers. For a short time, we all got to be Superman.”
As Captain Underpants would say, “Tra la laaaaa!”
As I would say, thank you, Dav Pilkey, for making millions and millions of kids and captain-philes alike love, love, LOVE reading!
This Book Is Available from Scholastic Reading Club