A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000 continues in the same vein as the rest of the series: lots of silly potty humor, but all pretty harmless. There's even some educational stuff in here -- discussion of Higgs boson, anyone? Teachers, convinced they're dreaming, strip down to their underwear and behave ridiculously, even "pantsing" a police officer. There are a few off-color jokes about Uranus, using a soda bottle as an emergency urinal, and a drawing of the Turbo Toilet's swollen bottom after a spanking. The realization that a hamster and pterodactyl have mated elicits an "ewwwwww." School staff are nastily delighted with a plan to split up best friends George and Harold.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
George and Harold travel through time back to the present with Captain Underpants and Melvin, who is being strangely helpful. But Melvin has an ulterior motive: He wants Captain Underpants to deal with the resurrected Turbo Toilet 2000. Melvin had defeated him and relished his new role as a hero … except for all the interruptions from his own work to handle so-called emergencies. George and Harold, exhausted from their time-traveling adventures, make a major mistake at school and face being separated next year. So they decide to travel back to yesterday and undo the mistake. Now there are two Harolds and two Georges, a vengeful Turbo Toilet 2000 headed their way, and more chaos than even Captain Underpants can handle.
Is it any good?
This book definitely keeps up the manic chaos of the preceding 10 books in this giddy series. The crude humor -- Uranus jokes and teachers stripping down to their skivvies -- are likely to make parents' eyes roll, but it's irresistible to kids. This remains a great series to entice reluctant readers, and a welcome break for kids who also enjoy more, er, literary fare.
But this isn't just a dumb series. Dav Pilkey works the Higgs boson, genomes, and the implications of time travel into the convoluted plot. Less familiar words are well-supported with context clues and include "smoldering," "exoskeleton," "morphed," "swiveled," and "theoretically." Adults will appreciate the sneaky cultural references to Tony Orlando and Dawn, The Shining, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and more.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of potty humor. Would this book be nearly as funny if the Turbo Toilet 2000 were, say, the Turbo Trash Can 2000?
Do you think adults (such as Nana in the book) are appropriately concerned about violence in children's books, movies, and TV shows? How does the violence in this book compare with cartoons or movies you've seen?
Kids may want to try making their own comics or a flip-o-rama -- and grown-ups can get in on the fun, too.
- Author: Dav Pilkey
- Genre: Humor
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Superheroes, Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
- Publication date: August 26, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 7 - 11
- Number of pages: 224
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
Our editors recommend
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.