2003's Buckeye Children's Book Award winner for grades 3-5 was Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman by Dav Pilkey -- a fitting follow up winner to the previous winner, The Adventures of Captain Underpants.
Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman is the fifth book in the Captain Underpants series. George and Harold are still up to their tricks, but this time their classroom teacher is the center of their self-drawn comics. Ms. Ribble is mean and unfriendly, and forces the kids to "celebrate" her upcoming retirement by making them make her cards and sing her songs (and then punishing them for any little mistake). George and Harold have written their teacher into their comic as the Wicked Wedgie Woman (quite the villain for our underpants hero, as you can imagine), and the duo trick their principal into proposing to Ms. Ribble when he punishes them for their unflattering depiction of her. The wedding doesn't go through (to the happiness of their principal), but it does end up making George and Harold use the 3-D Hypno Ring on their teacher -- which turns her into a real life Wedgie Woman! The ring, originally used on their principal to turn him into Captain Underpants in the first book, works differently on women: whatever you ask it to do, it does the opposite. Now the boys must prepare Captain Underpants for his toughest challenge yet -- a villain with millions of hands for hair, ready to give the entire world wedgies!
The potty humor doesn't stop in this series (and who would want it to?) but it does get slightly more sophisticated. There are jokes around starch and fabric softener, and even get into a parody of Superman's origins, just with Captain Underpants instead (for example, his parents fling him to Earth as a baby by using his underpants as a slingshot, so that he can avoid the oncoming assault of starch on their home planet.) As silly as the book is, it has some really great plot changes and literary techniques that would be great for teaching with.
I also really enjoyed the fact that although Captain Underpants is the superhero, George and Harold played a big role in making sure Wedgie Woman was defeated. There's a nice blend of fantasy and realism in the story, and it gives readers the ability to see that you don't have to be a superhero with super powers to change the outcome.
I'm not at all surprised that students voted for this series twice in a row. The humor, the comics mixed in with "typical" storytelling, the crazy antics and good vs. evil theme -- it's everything kids in 3rd-5th grade eat up.
My next book is another funny one, although it's more of a realistic kind of humor. This will be the fourth humorous book in a row! I'm not at all surprised, though -- who doesn't love a book that makes you laugh? Jill, I'm not familiar with your next book (although I'm familiar with that author). I can't wait to hear your review about it!
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