Captain Underpants: more offensive than Fifty Shades of Grey

Comic children's novels about a man who fights crime in his pants are the most complained-about books in the US

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Captain Underpants books – the bestselling toilet-humoured tales, aimed at 7-year-olds, about a headteacher who fights crimes in his underpants – are the most complained-about books in the US.

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Yep, you read that right.

Captain Underpants tops the list of the 10 most complained-about books in US libraries – beating adult books including Fifty Shades of Grey, Toni Morrison’s violent and explicit The Bluest Eye and John Green’s drug and sex-filled Looking for Alaska.

Parents complained that Captain Underpants books were unsuited to the age group they were aimed at, and contained ‘violence and offensive language’, according to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

Author Dav Pilkey does tend to fill his Underpants books with words such as ‘wedgie’ and ‘pee-pee’, and there is quite a focus on picking noses – but it does seem quite a stretch from there to accusations of ‘violence and offensive language’.

Dav Pilkey himself, in a statement issued by his publisher, Scholastic, says he finds it surprising “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”.

It’s all about the “potty language”, says the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom director Barbara Jones. “It gets a lot of parents rattled. And people still think of children’s books as academic, that they should be more restrained.”

What you do think? Should 7-year-olds be reading ‘funny’ books about pants and poo and toilets? Or something less, erm, bottom-focused? Do post a comment and let us know!

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