Meet My Son, SJ

Son playing on his KindleI was sitting at the kitchen table last week writing a blog post. SJ, my seven-year old son, was at the table as well. He said to me, “I want to write a blog post.”

I laughed, “That’s cool but not now.”

“When,” he asked.

I didn’t have an answer, “I don’t know buddy.”

He asked repeatedly throughout the day, “I’m ready. Are you ready?”

“No, I’m not ready. Please stop asking me.”

While SJ has created, okay co-created, many Captain Underpants stories, I wasn’t so sure my son was up to a blog post.

So, I did the next best thing. I interviewed SJ. He really is a funny character as you may have noticed here or here or here

Anyway, here is my recent interview with my younger son. It’s slightly edited and includes responses to some prompts not noted.

1. What is your favorite thing to do when you are home?
I like to play on my Kindle. Well, there are certain games. There’s Angry Bird Start War and other Angry Bird games and Ice Age Village and Minecraft. Continue reading

Something Epic Is Coming…

That title was not a tease. Something epic really is coming out.

Captain Underpants and the - Extra Crunchy Book of Fun Two

SJ squealed when he got Captain Underpants and the Extra Crunchy Book of Fun Two

And it is going to rock the MMK world.

A hotly anticipated novel is due out. You can bet we at MMK will preorder. (Well, actually Ms. MMK to be specific. She’s the online shopper of the house.)

No, it’s not the follow-up to 50 Shades of Grey.  No, Harry Potter is not returning.  And there is no The Firm Part II.

The novel I am talking about is the Captain Underpants 11th Epic Novel by Dav Pilkey. While Captain Underpants is not high-brow literature, it is loved in my household!!

As I’ve mentioned before (My Children Are Readers), SJ can not get enough of Captain Underpants. BR, while not the fan he once was, still will pick up Captain Underpants book on occasion.

The Captain Underpants books have turned SJ into a voracious reader.  Every night – when he should already be sleeping and morning when he still should be sleeping – you can find him with the blanket pulled over his head reading through a book from the Captain Underpants series.

Every week he and I create a Captain Underpants story as part of his vocabulary homework. He also made a couple of comic books himself. His teacher stopped him when he wanted to write “SJ-MAN and the Attack of The Lunch Ladies.”

Some of you may not be familiar with Captain Underpants ie those who don’t have a child between 5 and 9 (or an older child who read it when he/she was that age).  Seriously, it seems that just about every child in that age group reads and loves Captain Underpants and is breathlessly awaiting the 11th epic novel.

Don’t believe me? Go ahead and Google Captain Underpants 11th Epic Novel. Or better yet Google Captain Underpants 11th Epic Novel release date. This turned up about 49,900 results in 0.29 seconds.

After sifting through a few of those 49,900 results for the Captain Underpants 11th Epic Novel, the clearest site noted Summer of 2014 as the release date.

Anyway, the basic premise of Captain Underpants, a graphic novel is that there are two fourth grade boys named George and Harold who write comic books and love to pull pranks. Mr. Krupp, their mean principal, wants to get the boys in trouble. However, the boys are able to use a 3-D Hypno-Ring and hypnotize Krupp, turning him into Captain Underpants, their own superhero creation.

As you may have guessed from the title, Captain Underpants makes a lot of use of bathroom humor. Some may be turned off by this humor and the book has actually been banned in some places. My mother, for instance, who loves reading with SJ does not care for these books.

Me – I’m just fine with the Captain Underpants series. Besides, what little boy (and plenty of girls too) does not laugh at the mere mention of the word fart, poop, or toilet?

So SJ along with millions of other Captain Underpants fans will have to wait for the 11th epic novel.  Hey, this might teach SJ patience.

Even my mother would love that.

Here is an SJ creation (I helped a little). The underlined words were his weekly vocabulary words.

Captain Underpants and The Attack of The Blond Girl Monster

One day George and Harold were fishing at the pond.  A blond haired girl was having her birthday party at a camp near the pond. The blond haired birthday girl caught a fish that bit her and turned her into a monster. The monster smelled George and Harold’s mints and went to attack them.

George and Harold got away, but not before the Monster smashed each boy’s hand. The boys went to a doctor who put splints on each boy’s middle finger. They went to their school and found Mr. Krupp reading by a lamp.

Guess what happened next? I’ll give you a hint.


Captain Underpants and the boys went to the pond. Captain Underpants had a fight with The Blond Girl Monster. The Blond Girl Monster made a stinky in Captain Underpants and the boys face. But Captain Underpants was still able to defeat The Blond Girl Monster.  He did so by shooting his underwear into The Blond Girl Monster’s mouth which turned it back into a little blond girl.

George and Harold wrote a letter about this adventure. They put a stamp on the envelope and mailed the letter to Dav Pilkey.

The Love of Books: My Children are Readers

Children reading books

BR & SJ reading together circa 2008.

“I’m the luckiest kid in the world,” said SJ. What precipitated this declaration?

It wasn’t a walk through Disney World. It wasn’t a gigantic box of Lego. It wasn’t an extra piece of chocolate cake.

SJ was holding four books outside of the library. The books included two from the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey and two from the Big Nate series by Lincoln Peirce.

So, he was thrilled to have gotten four library books. He even did a dance – right outside the library (I wish I had the video).

Then, there’s BR.

BR has a favorite author: Dan Gutman. He has read many of Gutman’s books including the entire My Weird School series.

These days BR’s obsession is Dan Gutman’s baseball card adventure series. The titles include Ted & Me, Babe & Me, Jackie and Me, etc.

BR gets these books and disappears into his room. He goes through two of these books a week.

Why do my boys love reading when so many boys are not into reading?

My wife started reading to BR when he was just weeks old. He would be awake for hours (shocking, I know); she didn’t know what else to do with him after a while, so she just started reading to him.

Regarding SJ, I remember seeing him in his room by himself when he was two-years old. He was on the floor with a book in front of him. He was flipping through the pages but not before staring intently at each one. He was copying what he saw his big brother doing. This is one case where emulating his big brother truly helped him.

Anyway, some way wonder why we still read to our children even though they are proficient readers themselves. Well, studies show that reading to such children has many benefits.  Jim Trelease author of the respected, Read-Aloud Handbook, notes two reasons why it’s good to read to older kids.

1. A child’s reading level doesn’t catch up to his listening level until eighth grade.
2. Reading aloud to your kids is also are good way to grapple with difficult issues.*

I’ll be honest. I also love reading with BR because of the time we spend together, and the thoughts we share. I always comment on the books we read, and encourage him to do the same.

The book we completed most recently was The Big One-Oh by Dean Pitchford. I think I liked it even more than BR. The Big One-Oh told the story of a socially awkward boy who was about to turn 10. BR could relate. The protagonist learns many lessons about friendship and about himself.

I love reading with SJ because he is engaged in the text. His facial expressions and reactions are priceless. He also surprises with his comments and questions. Interesting perspective SJ has.

My wife and I are thrilled to be raising readers.

This English teacher dad is proud!