The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung Fu Cavemen From the Future
The second graphic novel by George Beard and Harold Hutchins,
the creators of CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS (aka Dav Pilkey)
Scholastic (Blue Sky Press), 2010
Review copy purchased with my very own money.
I'm sorry to have to tell the Newbery Committee this, but I'm afraid that while this book will never even be considered for the Newbery Medal, it is likely to be the most popular book in my fourth grade classroom in the first weeks of school.
As a public service to all nervous teachers, parents, librarians and grandparents, I have read this book cover to cover and I pronounce it to be hysterically funny. Laugh out loud funny. I also would like to assure the above audiences that I do not believe that the spelling mistakes that George and Harold make in their comics will in any way cause children's brains to rot and impair their ability to learn to spell correctly or write coherently. If the children who read this book don't know that there are misspelled words, they'll still be able to understand and enjoy the story. If the children who read this book DO know that there are misspelled words, well, hooray that they can recognize the misspellings. They'll still be able to understand and enjoy the story.
And while we're on the subject of spelling, phonics, and understanding a story, Pilkey totally rewards his readers for sounding out long (but not hard) words. One character is named Chief Goppernopper. He is variously referred to as Chief Grasshopper, Gobstopper, and Gumwrapper (to name a few). Pilkey goes off on extended riffs of rhyming with Gluk's name (rhymes with duck, stuck, truck...) and Ook's name (rhymes with duke, spook, kook...).
There are kid-level allusions to popular culture: the whole section where they learn Kung Fu in the future hearkens back to Karate Kid, and there are chapter title pages that are Star Wars and Jurassic Park take-offs. There are puns, like on Flip-o-rama #8: "Mechasaurus Wrecks!" (Tyrannosaurus Rex?) where the robot dinosaurs destroy a tower. There are, as in the Captain Underpants books, billboards that get their meaning changed, in this case when they are zapped by futuristic ray guns in a chase scene. For example, "I went to BOB'S POOLS to buy my pool! Now I dive in my pool, swim under the waves, and wear a BIG smile!!!" becomes "I went POO poo in my underwear". Besides the potty humor, there is a decent amount of barf humor. Kid humor. Spot-on kid humor.
Find out more at Dav Pilkey's website, and at the Scholastic website. But most of all, don't be afraid of this book.