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Fourth-graders George Beard and Harold Hutchins aren’t bad boys, but they do like pulling pranks. They also enjoy hanging out in their tree house, creating a comic strip about a superhero in underwear. The boys regularly sneak into the school office to make copies of their Captain Underpants comics, which they sell on the playground for 50 cents each.
Captain Underpants is a bald, portly man who wears white briefs and a cape. He frequently trumpets “tra-la-laaaaa!” and is endowed with Wedgie Power. While the students love Captain Underpants, the principal of Jerome Horwitz Elementary School does not. Mr. Krupp is sick of the boys’ pranks and general silliness, and he looks for an opportunity to put them in their place.
George and Harold pull a prank at the football game. They put black pepper in the cheerleaders’ pompons, causing sneezing fits. They put bubbles in the marching band members’ instruments. They fill the game ball with helium and replace the players’ muscle rub with itching powder. Their school has to forfeit the game, and the students are angry. From under the bleachers, George and Harold giggle. No one will ever know it was them.
The next day, Mr. Krupp calls the boys into his office. Gloating, he shows them that he caught all of their antics on video. If they don’t agree to his demands, he vows to release the tape to the football team and let the players take care of George and Harold. The boys agree to Mr. Krupp’s terms and spend weeks washing his car, fixing his yard and doing anything else he asks.
They believe their problems are over when they see a 3-D Hypno-ring in a magazine. When it arrives, four to six weeks later, they hypnotize Mr. Krupp. They get into his drawer and retrieve their prank video. In its place, they put a kiddie video with a singing purple dragon. While the principal is still under hypnosis, the boys make him act like a monkey and a chicken with a snap of their fingers.
Then they decide to turn him into Captain Underpants. Mr. Krupp immediately disrobes to his underwear, pulls a curtain around himself for a cape and dashes off to fight crime. The boys follow him and find him thwarting a bank robbery. They rescue him on their skateboards just as the police are about to haul him in.
Next, Captain Underpants captures Dr. Diaper, who was intent on blowing up the world’s major cities and taking over the planet. After Captain Underpants uses his briefs as a slingshot to disable Dr. Diaper, they all escape as the building explodes. Captain Underpants and the boys leave Dr. Diaper tied up at the police station for officers to find.
The kids give Mr. Krupp his clothes and break his trance by pouring water on his head. When Mr. Krupp emerges from his hypnotic state, he remembers nothing. He is angry about the water on his head, though, and he insists he will show the video to the football team. The boys snicker, knowing he has the wrong video.
The football team likes Mr. Krupp’s video so much, they change their names to the Purple Dragon Sing-Along Friends. George and Harold return to their normal prankster selves. One day, someone snaps his fingers in front of Mr. Krupp, and the man turns back into Captain Underpants. The boys watch from the classroom window, dismayed, as they see the principal-turned-superhero streaking through the ball field to fight crime once again.
OTHER BELIEF SYSTEMS
The word darn appears once.
Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.
Why does Mr. Krupp dislike Harold and George so much? Have you ever been on a teacher or principal’s bad side for something you did? What happened?
What do Harold and George do to Mr. Krupp? In what ways do they show disrespect? How should you treat adults who have authority over you?
What do Harold and George do at the football game? How do their actions impact other students? How are their pranks clever and funny? How are they hurtful to others? What makes these pranks inappropriate?
What qualities make someone a true hero? If you could create your own superhero comic like Harold and George, what would your hero be like? What would you call him or her? How are you like this superhero? How are you unlike this superhero?
How do the boys embarrass Dr. Diaper? Would they want anyone to embarrass them in the same way? How are they not treating others as they would like to be treated? Tell about a time when someone embarrassed you. Tell about a time when you’ve embarrassed someone else. How can you help others when they feel embarrassed?
Lying: The boys lie to the principal, saying they didn’t pull the pranks at the football game.
Bathroom humor: Underpants are mentioned frequently, and the hypnotized principal sports them while wearing nothing else but a cape. Underpants become slingshots to take down victims, and the hero is also known to have Wedgie Power. The boys use fake dog poop to embarrass Dr. Diaper by making him think he has made a mess on the floor. Dr. Diaper wears nothing but a diaper. When Captain Underpants uses his own underpants to capture Dr. Diaper, the superhero finds a barrel to wear around his middle. Silly cartoon drawings, which appear frequently throughout the book, depict Captain Underpants as a pudgy, bald man wearing fitted white underpants and a red cape. The large underpants never reveal any hint of the anatomy beneath.
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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.