An Apology to Dav Pilkey… Sort Of…

"This is the story about Tippy Tinkletrousers, and how he didn't really die at the end of the last epic novel..."

“This is the story about Tippy Tinkletrousers, and how he didn’t really die at the end of the last epic novel…”

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?

Dav Pilkey Goes a Step Too Far

Some of The Boy's Collection

If you aren’t familiar with Dav Pilkey, he is the author of the incredibly popular Captain Underpants Series (among others along the same vein).  The Boy loves his books.  He cracks up, and reads and re-reads them often.  I used to worry that the atrocious spelling in the books might derail The Boy in that subject area, as he has a rather photographic memory that way, but he actually finds the mistakes hilarious, and we often point out each one when reading together.

Some parents are not fans, finding his tone irreverent, and the subject matter bordering on the lines of bad taste.  If you actually read the books, you will find that Dav uses parody to point out some of the basic features of going to school these days, and also subtly mocks what passes for education in our times.  Lots of levels, just like the old Bugs Bunny cartoons.

Anyway, I purchased what seems to be the latest book for The Boy (Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers) as a surprise to pull out on the plane when electronics could definitely not be used.  I knew he hadn’t seen it before, and I knew I could count on it to absorb him for a good while…


And then, The Boy got to the end of the book…  Where a character actually dies…  In a rather violent manner…

The Boy was understandably upset.  These books usually end with the bad guy going to bad guy jail, but no one ever gets seriously hurt, let alone gets killed (by being stepped on by giant zombie nerds, leaving a “red, squishy stain”).  He kept going back to that page, obviously disturbed by it.

Oh, Dav, Why did you have to go there?  I trusted you to entertain my kid without scarring him, because you never went this far before. 

To add insult to injury, Pilkey also claims that as a result of this violent death, there will be no more Captain Underpants books.  So you kill a character, and then leave the kids high and dry?  It does go on to say that there actually will be another book, which ultimately confused the hell out of The Boy, Mr. Literal.

The Boy has decided he is going to write a letter to Dav Pilkey about all of this, which I encouraged, as I hope many others do, as well.  I think Mr. Pilkey has forgotten that his audience is made up of children, who while desperately trying to become adults, are still impressionable and trusting.  And in this latest book, he has let them down.