Vermont has suffered through a rainy early summer. One rainy Saturday, I had a perfectly planned visit to the paint-your-own-pottery studio. My daughter and her friend had exchanged gift certificates for birthday presents; we spent the car ride analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of painting one big thing versus painting a few small items. Excitement was high. In an unfortunate mom fail, the studio was closed.

I quickly went to Plan B. Now I was faced with a dilemma. The only age-appropriate movie playing was Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, and I have never liked the Captain Underpants books by Dav Pilkey. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and I convinced them to go.

Both of these nine-year-old girls participate in a book club in the public library – they are strong and proud readers. They needed to be convinced to see the movie, believing that, because the book was below their reading level, they should not want to see it.

I have not read the series, and I shared their wariness (as do other parents as addressed by another parent in the CLiF blog). But I liked the movie. And the book. Unexpected! Here are some of the reasons I would recommend the both:

  1. Harold and George are nice friends (always a useful lesson from books). They are naughty – pulling pranks constantly and torturing adults, but they spend their time in a tree house writing and illustrating Captain Underpants comic books together.
  2. Kids are obsessed with potty talk, and I continue to wonder why and when it stops. Maybe if it was less forbidden, it would be less funny? At a recent Year of the Book event, I watched Marty Kelley share the book The Story of the Little Mole who Went in Search of Whodunit by Werner Holzwarth. The mole gets pooped on and visits all the animals to see who did it. The kids and the teachers were dying with laughter; what a memorable book experience – maybe the first and only time a story about poop is shared and enjoyed in school by an adult! He hooked them with that book.
  3. It is silly – both the book and movie made me laugh outloud. It felt good to laugh like that, and it felt good to have these girls see that adults appreciate silliness (despite also reminding them to cut back on the potty talk).

I love reading out loud with my daughter before bed. Some times she wants picture books, some times we read classics (however we never did make it through Moby Dick), and some times it is a chapter book. I think it is a meaningful reminder that new books and well loved favorites can cycle through your life. Treasured picture books might provide reassurance during a stressful time; we might find build empathy or find guidance in the experiences of a book character; and we might get a good and much needed laugh from a silly story.

I agreed with the NY Times film critic that Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is far from sublime, but it is exactly what you expect. But that is enough to remind us how important it is to expand our horizons, because there are so many ways to enjoy new books, movies, foods, music, etc. And what better time to experiment than a summer day!

Photo: Marty Kelley sharing:

The Story of the Little Mole Who Went in Search of Whodunit

One response to “If You’re a Parent and…Captain Underpants Happens

  1. Wonderful little essay on experimenting with something new, and truly being open to the experience!

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