New, all-color illustrations on shiny paper add gloss to this reboot of a Captain Underpants also-ran.
The plotline remains the same: Small, bullied mouse gains a huge metal friend after rescuing it from its creator, mad scientist Dr. Stinky McNasty. Said friend goes on to subdue the bullies, star in the best classroom show and tell ever, and battle McNasty’s next effort, a giant lizard. The battle is portrayed partly in Pilkey’s trademark Flip-O-Rama (though with Santat’s illustrations) and partly in newly crafted pages of minicomics. Overall, though Ricky and the robot look about the same as they did in the 2000 original (illustrated in a thick-lined, cartoony style by Martin Ontiveros), Santat portrays them in a more lapidary way, with shiny eyes and gleaming highlights. He also adds more background detail, makes the bullies bigger but not so mean of aspect, and exchanges McNasty’s nerdy goggles for an eye patch to give the bad guy a more dashingly villainous air. This last is disappointing: When will we stop using images of disability as signifiers of evil? The drawing instructions at the back of the original edition have been dropped.
An uninspired retread, still with only hints of the wit and silly humor that light up Pilkey’s other series. (Fantasy. 6-9)