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Learn2Earn Kids Interview Author of Bestselling Series Captain Underpants

Learn2Earn Kids Interview Author of Bestselling Series Captain Underpants

By Kaison Tanabe

Have you ever wondered what inspired the hilarious Captain Underpants series? We know thousands of children on our website have been reading and loving the books, so we reached out to author Dav Pilkey for a Q&A with his number one audience—the kids.

We prompted children on our site to submit their questions and were blown away by the 2,000+ responses. After sorting through all of them (and chuckling at almost every question), we selected 29 and added one of our own. The children whose questions were chosen will receive 1,000 Wisdom Points to customize their owlvatars!

2nd Grader, North Carolina

Q: How many monkeys can a snake swallow in one bite?

A: Many studies have been done on this fascinating subject. Most recently, scientists in Walla-Walla, Washington witnessed a Siberian Blue Python (which was more than 70 meters long) swallowing fourteen monkeys in one bite. I believe that is the current record.

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5th Grader, Illinois

Q: I always wondered why his name is Captain Underpants when it could be Snoop the Poop or Carter the Smarter?

A: Well, my teacher in grade 2 gave me the idea for his name. She used the word “underpants” in class one day, and everybody started to laugh. I was immediately convinced that “underpants” was the world’s funniest word, so I created a superhero called “Captain Underpants” that day.

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3rd Grader, Maryland

Q: How is your day going?

A: Thank you for asking. My day is going pretty well, so far. I’m working on the illustrations for the next Captain Underpants book now. It’s called Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot. I just finished drawing page 88, and it feels pretty good to be almost half way done. 

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8th Grader, Ohio

Q: I would love to know how you thought about and made the Captain Underpants series. I would love to hear some advice on how to make a New York Times Best Seller.

A: Well, I’ve been making up stories and illustrating them since I was in kindergarten, so my best advice (and I think the thing that has helped me to be successful as well) is to work hard and stick with it. The more you write and draw, the better you will get. It might seem frustrating at times, but remember that every time you draw and write, you improve.

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4th Grader, Georgia

Q: Dav, do you have friends that are authors? I have wanted to read other books instead of The Magic Tree House.

A: I have the honor of knowing (and being friends with) many different authors, and they are all very nice people. If you really like Captain Underpants, I recommend that you look for this series by one of my friends: Wiley & Grampa’s Creature Features by Kirk ScroggsThis is one of the silliest series I’ve ever read, and I bet you’ll like it too.

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8th Grader, New York

Q: Have you ever lost inspiration to write, or have you ever lost faith in your writings and keeping the comedy? Because I find it interesting to ask writers their inspiration because really is it great writing if there’s no inspiration? Wouldn’t you agree? Thank you for your time, and Happy Thanksgiving. Oh one last thing. Have you ever written too much and had to cut it down?

A: Great questions. I’ll answer your second one first: Yes, I write too much and have to cut it down all the time. It’s often been said that the best writing is RE-writing (in other words, editing), and that’s something that writers have to do quite often.

Inspiration is important, but I don’t think it is a rare thing. I find inspiration all around me. Especially when I daydream or reminisce about my childhood. And of course, I think everyone loses faith in their own abilities from time to time. I’ve made almost 60 books for kids, and I sometimes worry that I’ll never be able to do it again. At times like that, I think it’s important to take a break, get out into nature, and try to reflect on gratitude. Sometimes a nice, quiet walk in the woods is all it takes to get back into the swing of things.

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3rd Grader, Florida

Q: Would your Captain Underpants books be a good series for me to read? I haven’t read the books yet, but I have some friends in my class who read the books and when they let me have a peek, the drawings and stories seem like they would be funny enough to make me squirt milk out my nose! But I don’t particularly like superheroes, which brings up my question. So should I read them or not? 

A: You might be surprised to find out I’m not a big superhero fan, either. I DO read comics, but usually not superhero ones. Captain Underpants is more of a humor and adventure series about two best friends who don’t fit in at school very well. If that kind of story sounds good to you, I think you might enjoy these books.

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5th Grader, North Carolina

Q: Why did you make adventures like this? How did you feel when your book hit it big? Why? Were George and Harold like you and someone else? If so, did you make comics and sneak into the teacher’s lounge and make copies? Also, did you pull pranks on teachers as a kid? Your books are the kind I will read forever. 

A: Thanks. George and Harold are both based on me when I was a kid, so yes, many of their antics are based on things that I did when I was in elementary school (including their pranks). I made comics and switched the letters around on bulletin boards, too. My school didn’t have a copy machine when I was a kid, so I never made copies of my comics. 

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3rd Grader, Pennsylvania

Q: How could there possibly be a stew so gross it can kill the talking toilets? P.S. I’ve read all of the Captain Underpants books. 

A: When you use your imagination, anything can happen. Toilets can come to life, and cafeterias can serve food that is SO HORRIBLE, it can destroy any living thing. That’s why I enjoy being a writer so much. I get to use my imagination all day long!

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5th Grader, Ohio

Q: What made you want to be a writer?

A: I had a teacher when I was in college who encouraged me to write. She said I was good at it, and that I should try to write a children’s book. I was so inspired by her that I wrote my very first children’s book that year.

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4th Grader, Illinois

Q: Why did you name your books Captain Underpants and how did you come up with the characters? Also, did you ever think your books were going to become this popular to kids all over America?

A: Captain Underpants’ name was inspired by my 2nd grade teacher, who said “underpants” in class one day and made everybody laugh. George and Harold are based on me, and their teachers are based on some very mean teachers I had growing up. I was very surprised when my books became popular. It was very nice to learn that these stories, which were based on some bad things from my childhood, were now making people happy all over the world.

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4th Grader, New York

Q: Why does Captain Underpants only wear underwear?

A: Because if he didn’t, he’d be Captain Naked. And I’d never get away with that!

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5th Grader, Nebraska

Q: What made you think of writing books? Is it hard to become a writer? How many days does it take you to write a book? 

A: My teacher in college inspired me to write books for children. It takes a lot of hard work to be a writer, but it can also be very fun and rewarding, too. Usually, it takes one year for me to write a book. Three of those months are spent just thinking about the story, and the other three months are spent writing. The next six months are spent designing, illustrating and painting the illustrations in black and white watercolor goauche.

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5th Grader, North Carolina

Q: When did you start to form these ideas for the series of Captain Underpants. Did you have accomplices to help you think of these outstanding ideas? Also, did you come up with the ideas of the flip picture pages?

A: I’d written a bunch of comic books about Captain Underpants when I was a kid, but I started forming the ideas for George, Harold, and Mr. Krupp (the backbone of the Captain Underpants series) back in 1995 (when I was 29 years old). I had a lot of wonderful friendships when I was a kid, and those friendships certainly inspired George and Harold’s relationship, but nobody helped me come up with the ideas for the series. I did that on my own. My friends and I also made “Flip-O-Ramas” when I was a kid. We called them “Flip-Actions” back in those days. I’m not sure who thought up the idea for “Flip-Actions,” but I know it wasn’t me.

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Kaison, Learn2Earn

Q: Your books are the most widely read among all of our children. Growing up, how important was reading to you and what impact does it have on your life now?

A: I had (and still have) dyslexia when I was growing up, so reading was a real challenge for me. I always had a great love for comics, though, especially newspaper comics like Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz and Nancy by Ernie Bushmiller. Reading words and pictures at the same time really helped me with my comprehension and confidence, and that helped me to become a better reader.

I read the newspaper comics every day, and they inspired me to write and draw my own comics. If I hadn’t been making comics as a kid, I probably wouldn’t be making books today. So reading comics had a HUGE impact on my life.

Reading is still very important to me now, as a grown up. I still prefer stories that have pictures with the words, so I read a lot of graphic novels. I love the way that words tell part of the story, and pictures tell another part. This layered storytelling technique really draws me into a book, and helps me to connect with the stories and characters at a very deep level.

Want to know more about Captain Underpants? Read the rest of the questions and answers at Learn2Earn.org!

Get your kids to read More Captain Underpants when you host an online fundraiser with Learn2Earn.

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