So the follow up book to the last Captain Underpants book, which really, really upset The Boy (and I suspect a lot of kids his age), with a rather graphic death on its last pages has been released (Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers). I stood in the store and read the beginning, wondering how Pilkey would get himself out of it. Sure enough, there was an explanation: It was “misdirection”, and weren’t we stupid adults for complaining about something that never happened. In fact, the whole second chapter is about how stupid adults are for squashing all the fun that any kid ever attempts to have, and its because its easier for us adults to yell at kids than reflect on our own sad lives.
I’m not going to get in an offended huff, because just like a lot of satire, there are grains of truth to what he says.
But. I didn’t get offended by that book until my kid got upset. My son was not laughing at the ending of that book (and frankly, I would have found it more than a little disturbing if he was laughing at what was represented as a graphic death). My son didn’t get your joke, and certainly was not familiar with the concept of misdirection.
So, Mr. Pilkey, I guess it was all a trick, and I’m a stupid parent to get offended at what was represented as a graphic death that wasn’t really a graphic death. But, does that mean the next chapter is going to be deriding the stupid kids who were upset by the same thing?
I think the books are supposed to be for 8 years old and up. Given the use of difficult vocabulary and satire, the books should be aimed more for 10 year olds and up. There is so much violence in the media and at schools. I think most people become desensitized to it all. In many children’s books, the evil witches do terrible things to children. I do think, however, Pilkey was trying to point out how easy it is for people to jump to conclusions without having any facts. How old is your son?
He’s 11. Misdirection, as Pilkey says he used, is only effective if you make the scenario believable, in this case the graphic death. It’s not jumping to conclusions if his intention was to misdirect the reader. I understand what he tried to do, but I think he misjudged his intended audience.
If you turn a few pages after it appears Tippy got squished, Tippy is shown on the cover of the next book, so obviously he did NOT die. Pilkey wanted his readers to know that Tippy would be in the next book, therefore, the “death” scenario is not believable.
I disagree, Jason. Yes, there was what looked like an ad for the next book, but that was merely confusing, not “proof” that the character was not dead. Again, his intention was to misdirect the reader. My son believed what was represented as a death, therefore, it was believable.