An Evening with Author/Illustrator DAV PILKEY


How does an evening with children’s author Dav Pilkey begin? (well,after waiting in a looooong line wrapping all the way around Headquarters library…)

Waiting for Captain Underpants

Waiting for Captain Underpants

With, of course, a loud “Tra-la-laaaa!” yelled in unison by all the kids (and many of the parents) in the audience. It’s Captain Underpants’ typical call to action.

I had the fun opportunity to be part of this attentive and rambunctious crowd last night at the St. Louis County Library’s Author Event, celebrating the release of CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE SENSATIONAL SAGA OF SIR STINKS-A-LOT. (# 12 in the series)

Screen Saver for Captain Underpants

Screen Saver for Captain Underpants



Dav Pilkey, who will have 60 books to his credit with 2016’s THE ADVENTURES OF DOG MAN, has revolutionized reading for boys especially. USA Today called him the “savior of the reluctant reader.” His short, graphic chapter books with their silliness, fast pace, and bathroom humor are a perfect fit for young readers. The kid-friendly author creates his tales based on his own elementary school experiences.

The Adventures of Dog Man

The Adventures of Dog Man

As a child who suffered from ADHD and dyslexia, he understood the power of pictures to tell a story. Even though he often found himself doing hallway detention for drawing in class, he couldn’t resist making more clever comics—to the delight of his fellow students and the dismay of his teachers.

“Underwear is not funny!” said Mr. Pilkey’s second grade teacher. “Grow up!” she cautioned him. “You can’t spend the rest of your life making silly books!”

Drawing favorite characters

Drawing favorite characters

Oh, how little she knew, and how very far Mr. Pilkey has enriched young readers with the delights of his underwear crew.

Some of his other titles include:

The Ricky Ricotta Series 

Dog Breath

Paper Boy

The Adventures of Ook and Gluk

Super Diaper Baby



Nowadays, the author prefers drawing in more natural spots, like along the beach in Japan when visiting his wife’s family. But even there, he still suffers criticism—from some monkeys that is. Mr. Pilkey shared a video of himself at work sketching, while several monkeys attempted to confiscate his pens and offer vocal commentary on his work-in-progress.

Dav Pilkey Attempts to Draw Despite Monkey Antics

Dav Pilkey Attempts to Draw Despite Monkey Antics




At the end of his presentation last night, Mr. Pilkey made a point about perseverance. He showed a picture of a scowling egg and a happy potato in boiling water. “Don’t let adversities overcome you,” he said. “Rather use them to build on. In boiling water, a potato softens but an egg becomes hard.”



Many young readers in the crowd wore red capes, similar to Captain Underpants. On back of the capes was the message, “Reading is Power!” Thanks, Mr. Pilkey, for enhancing children’s literature with your comic characters and delightful illustrations and proving that strong reading muscles really do rock!

Scholastic Reading Survey

Scholastic recently released the results of a survey of children and parents on current reading trends. 86% of kids feel a sense of accomplishment after reading a book themselves. And while only 50% of kids consider reading enjoyable or important, 75% know they should read more.

The study also found that kids are drawn to electronic reading options. This information supports the growth of ebooks in children’s literature. But the study also concluded that other technology options–like texting and online fun–can use up reading time opportunities for students.

For wonderful ideas on helping your child become a reader, visit the READING IS FUNDAMENTAL website.
And for some additional ideas, check out my website as well.

Happy reading!

Picture Books I’ve Been Reading

Below are a few of the picture books I’ve been reading. These books offer a wide variety of subject matter and illustrations.

ONE THOUSAND TRACINGS: HEALING THE WOUNDS OF WORLD WAR II by Lita Judge. Hyperion Books for Children, 2007.
This is a simply told, true story of a girl and her mother in post-World War II United States who began a grass roots movement to provide shoes and supplies to war victims in Germany. The end page collages of photos and letters combined with the breathtaking watercolor illustrations bring this tale to life with poignant detail. This book is a slice of history and humanity that should be shared in every classroom.

THE STORY OF SALT by Mark Kurlansky. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2006.
A colorfully illustrated history of salt, this book examines one of the most common elements used worldwide. Kurlansky shows how salt, now virtually taken for granted, has played such a pivotal role in various locales in the past. A timeline of “Salt through the Centuries” concludes the text.

HENRY’S FREEDOM BOX by Ellen Levine. Scholastic, 2007.
This 20008 Caldecott Honor book tells the fictionalized description of Henry “Box” Brown’s escape from slavery in 1849 when he mailed himself to freedom from Richmond to Philadelphia. The bold pictures and provocative story should encourage young readers to find more books exploring slavery in the pre-Civil War United States.

AT GLEASON’S GYM by Ted Lewin. Roaring Brook Press, 2007.
Bold, bright illustrations accompany a condensed story of Sugar Boy Younan’s workout routine and quest for the National Silver Gloves Champion in the 110 Pound Bantam Weight Division. A couple of girl boxers are shown in the story as well, but the book’s primary audience would seem to be boys—especially reluctant readers.