Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot
What it's About:
George and Harold, and their doubles, Yesterday George and Yesterday Harold, have a good thing going. Two of them go to school, while the other two hide in the tree house and play video games all day -- then they switch! But when their malicious gym teacher, Mr. Meaner, creates a method of mind-control that turns their fellow students into attentive, obedient, perfect children, the future of all humanity will be in their hands!
This book deals with a subject that is very close to Dav Pilkey's heart: ADHD (otherwise known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Delightfulness).
In the book, Mr. Meaner develops a drug that reverses the effects of ADHD, turning children into mindlessly compliant button-pushers. The adults in the story are overjoyed at the improvements they see. This is Dav's not-so-subtle response to what many experts believe is a troubling over-diagnosis (and over-medication) of the symptoms ADHD.
Many people (all grown-ups) look at ADHD as a disease or a disorder, but Dav Pilkey (who grew up with all the symptoms of ADHD and was diagnosed with the "disorder" as an adult) wonders if many of the symptoms of ADHD might simply fall under the category of 'normal'.
These symptoms (restlessness, impulsiveness, hyperactivity) might be distracting in a classroom environment, but they don't necessarily mean that there's anything wrong with the child who is displaying them.
In school, we expect children to sit still and pay attention for hours at a time. Some children adapt well to this kind of environment, but some don't. Many children have too much energy to do this highly unnatural thing. The funny thing is that most adults can't handle it either. If you stick a bunch of grown-ups in a meeting that goes on for hours, you're going to see the same restlessness, inattention, and impulsivity that you see in children. With adults we call it normal. With children, we call it a disease.
"If you put a monkey in a cage, and the monkey gets upset, it's ridiculous to conclude that there's something wrong with the monkey." -Dav Pilkey
Some facts about ADHD:
- Recently, researchers found that people with ADHD are hard-wired for "novelty-seeking". This trait not only falls under the category of normal, but has a profound evolutionary advantage.
- So often we hear about the negative symptoms of ADHD. Here are some of the positive ones:
- Emotional expressiveness
- Interpersonal intuition
- A special relationship with nature
(this information provided by Laura Honos-Webb, PhD, author of the book The Gift of ADHD: How to Transform Your Child's Problems into Strengths)
Roughly 11% of children (as of 2011) have been diagnosed with ADHD, and most are convinced that they have a disability. Perhaps we should consider the messages we give to these kids. Is it possible that their brains may just not adapt well to boring stuff?
Perhaps more research and consideration is needed before we stamp destructive labels on children who might just have an advantage that we can't see or fully understand yet.
- This is the first Captain Underpants book that contains NO SPELLING ERRORS. Yes, George and Harold's spelling and grammar have been improving throughout this series, and it's not by accident. Dav Pilkey wanted to subtly show that mistakes are a part of life, and we shouldn't be afraid of making them. We should focus on learning from our mistakes and always strive to improve.
- The artwork style in Old George and Old Harold's Dog Man comic (Chapter 23) was heavily inspired by one of Dav Pilkey's favorite graphic novelists, Bryan Lee O'Malley. Bryan is best known for creating the Scott Pilgrim series of graphic novels, which are among Dav Pilkey's favorite books.
- If you look VERY closely at page 21 (you might need a magnifying glass) you'll notice that the guy on the right is carrying a copy of Smart Captain Underpants, written and illustrated by Smart Dav Pilkey.
- The guy and the old lady in chapter 20 are grown-up versions of the little boy and his mother who appear throughout the Captain Underpants series. Their roles (the boy being the one who sees and reports something bizarre and the mother who doesn't believe him) have switched.
- The guy in chapter 20 is busy typing away on a cell phone twenty years in the future. Dav Pilkey decided to draw this phone as an old-fashioned flip-phone, poking fun at his own technophobia.