The Two-Way
5:19 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Book News: 'Captain Underpants' Is 2013's Most Vilified Book

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • In a clear victory for the villainous Dr. Diaper, Captain Underpants -- Dav Pilkey's series about a heartless school principal who when hypnotized becomes a kindly superhero dressed only in a cape and a pair of underpants — topped the American Library Association's annual list of most-challenged books for the second year in a row. A challenge is a "formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness." In a statement, Pilkey said he was surprised "that a series with no sex, no nudity, no drugs, no profanity and no more violence than a Superman cartoon has caused such an uproar." The full list — maybe the only place you'll see Captain Underpants listed together with Toni Morrison's masterpiece The Bluest Eye and E.L. James' erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey -- is here:

1. Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey

2. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

4. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

6. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

7. Looking for Alaska by John Green

8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

9. Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

10. Bone (series) by Jeff Smith

  • Sue Townsend was writing another Adrian Mole novel at the time of her death. Townsend's U.K. publisher told The Telegraph: "It was supposed to be out this autumn and we are very sad that we won't be able to show it to the world." The author of the warmly funny Adrian Mole series, which begins with The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ and ends with Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years, died last week at age 68.

The Best Books Coming Out This Week:

  • Evie Wyld's gorgeous, grisly second novel, All the Birds, Singing, begins with the memorable line: "Another sheep, mangled and bled out, her innards not yet crusting and the vapors rising from her like a steamed pudding." The novel's heroine, Jake, tends sheep on a lonely, dreary British island. But something is killing off her sheep in the night. The book is remarkable not only for the nearly unbearable sense of suspense, but also for the lushness of the animal world: the flies that drink from the corners of Jake's eyes, the sheep with the greasy fur she shears "like peeling a mandarin, when the skin is thick and the pith attached and there is something satisfying about it." (Listen to Wyld's interview with Weekend Edition's Scott Simon.)
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