Excuse me a moment while I shout something that will make me the most popular person in the nation’s elementary schools: DAV PILKEY HAS A NEW "CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS" BOOK COMING OUT THIS SUMMER.
Thanks, I’m back.
Technically, the book is “The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby #2,” but it totally counts in the universe of "Captain Underpants." You know "Captain Underpants," those funny, goofy, slightly potty-humored “epic novels” that have led more boys to love reading than any other book series I can think of this side of Harry Potter.
I didn’t actually set out to get that tidbit of fun-o-rama news when I talked with Tracy van Straaten of Scholastic books, vice president for publicity. I was calling because of the notice my 8-year-old son saw a few months ago in the back of his used copy of "Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds).”
(If you’re not already familiar with the series, the title alone tells you a lot.)
On page 33, the reader is instructed to shake the book uncontrollably while shouting the word “KA-BLOOOOOSH!” as loud as possible. “Don’t worry, you won’t get in trouble,” it said. Oh, really?
On the book’s last page, there’s a note:
“If you got in trouble for shouting “Ka-BLOOOOOSH!” please send a self-addressed stamped envelope to: “I got in trouble for shouting KA-BLOOOOOSH!” c/o Scholastic Inc., P.O. Box 711, New York NY 10013-0711. We’ll send you something fun!”
Of course, my son wanted to respond. But the book had originally been released in 1999. I assured him he had no better chance of getting a response than if he replied to an ad for secret decoder rings from a 1940s comic book. C’mon, it’s been years since I even heard the words “self-addressed stamped envelope.”
He sent it off anyway, and waited. And waited, and waited. And one day in the mailbox, probably two months later, an envelope arrived. It was “A Newsletter For People Who Got in Trouble For Shouting Ka-BLOOOOOSH,” four pages of activities and fun. I’ve never seen that kid so excited over a piece of mail.
There are giveaway notices in five of the "Underpants" books, van Straaten said. (There are technically 11 books, counting the first “Super Diaper-Baby,” two activity books, and “Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen From The Future.”) The giveaway’s been active since 1998. At its peak, Scholastic got 1,500 to 2,000 requests per week, van Straaten said.
Though our copy of the book was used, the offer does remain in current editions. Why? Well, why not? “The kids still are really interested, and I think kids love getting something from an author,” van Straaten said.
There’s no end to the giveaway in sight, she said, though at some point it will most likely move online.
Then, because I knew my son would never forgive me if I missed the opportunity, I asked that question about when "Super Diaper Baby #2" might be coming. It was advertised on the last page of the first "Super Diaper Baby" book, back in 2002, with the announcement “Coming Soon!” My boy loyally checks the shelves for it every time we visit a bookstore, holding tough even after one bookseller told him that she personally knew, from a firsthand talk with Pilkey, that the writer would never, ever finish it.
What took so long?
“He wrote 'Ook and Gluk' in the middle. I think he changes it up. I don’t have an answer for that…” van Stratten said. “He does go back and forth between his series. We’re just happy that it’s coming.”
So’s my boy. And we haven’t even been waiting that long. Check out this Yahoo Answers post from two months ago, asking when the book might appear. “I wanted this book for my 7th birthday and it's been 7 years since then,” the poster wrote.
I’m tempted to post a note telling him his wait is over. Or maybe I’ll just give him a big, enthusiastic “KA-BLOOOOOSH!”