Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Favorite Authors: Dav Pilkey

If the name Dav Pilkey immediately conjures up the image of a superhero in his underpants, then let me be the first to show you the wonderful range of this very appealing author.

While he's perhaps best known for Captain Underpants and its ever-expanding franchise of books (Super Diaper Baby, Ook and Gluk), Pilkey (who's been around for years) has a nice repertoire of other books that are worth a look.

Let's get the comic-book and low-brow stuff out of the way first. Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot and all its sequels are very much like a comic book without the frames. The pictures are cartoonish, the action is very much the **CRASH!** **POW!** **BAM!** type and the storylines are like a very silly vintage Batman episode. However, the text is just right for beginning readers -- not too much on each page, a little repetitive but not boringly so, amply illustrated so pictures can help with comprehension. These are great books, especially for boys.

The low-brow would be the Dumb Bunnies. And before you ask: yes, they are dumb. They may remind you of Amelia Bedelia in that they often take things very very literally, but they have their own loopy charm. They also have some egregious nose-picking, some mild toilet humor, and the weird sight of Papa Bunny strolling everywhere in his tighty-whities. These look like picture books, but are good for Kindergarten/1st Grade kids who can read the fairly simple text and get the textual/visual jokes in the artwork. Kids love the dumb humor, especially the nose-picking.

Also under the category of dumb humor, but more along the lines of groaners, are Dogzilla, Kat Kong, The Hallo-Wiener, The Night Before Thanksgiving and Dog Breath. Some -- like Dogzilla and Kat Kong -- are full of bad puns and plays on words, but the basic stories are appealing to kids and the bad jokes aren't a deterrent for them. Hallo-Wiener and Thanksgiving are holiday tie-in books.

One of my favorites is Pilkey's Dragon series -- a very nice set of books that are at an early reader level but very colorfully illustrated. Again, they're like comics without the frames. The character of Dragon is childlike -- sometimes impulsive in a negative way (like when he makes a Christmas wreath of candy and then eats all of it) and sometimes in a positive way (like when he rescues a cat stuck in the snow and ends up adopting it). He's very sweet and likable. These are often available at Scholastic Warehouse sales if you keep your eyes open.

Another fave around here is Pilkey's Big Dog and Little Dog series. These work as read-alouds or early readers; we read this one aloud at bedtime a lot. It's the adventures of Big Dog and Little Dog, and all the ways they manage to either get in trouble (like chasing a cat that turns out to be a skunk) or help each other (like Little Dog helping find a sweater for Big Dog so they can both have one). Again, very sweet and likable. The stories are available in board book format, and in a collected edition, which is pictured here.

Then there's Dav Pilkey the Caldecott Honor author of The Paperboy, a lovely story of a boy up before the rest of the world, delivering papers. The artwork is more painterly, less comic-book, and very nice.

Last, there are a few lesser-known Pilkey books, like God Bless the Gargoyles, When Cats Dream and The Moonglow Roll-O-Rama. These are picture books for 4-8 year olds which certainly might be worth a look at your library.

I promise you there's more to this guy than potty jokes. Go check him out.

No comments:

Post a Comment