Thursday, August 31, 2023

Book Review: SpongeBob SquarePants

When SpongeBob SquarePants debuted in 1999, the fun-loving, pure-hearted title character took the world of animation by storm, riding a virtual tsunami of praise. As the 25th anniversary of the show nears, it’s time to look back at where it all began and revisit all the adventures from the best episodes.

In SpongeBob SquarePants: The Unauthorized Fun-ography, award-winning author Paul Volponi presents the first ever “biography” of the show, exploring its origins and providing insight into the characters, the episodes, the voices, and the fans. From jellyfishing with Patrick Star and irritating Squidward Tentacles, to flipping krabby patties at the Krusty Krab and attending boating school with Mrs. Puff, this book covers it all. Volponi even includes fascinating details pulled straight from the pitch bible used by creator Stephen Hillenburg to sell the show to Nickelodeon, revealing how SpongeBob SquarePants became the network’s first original Saturday morning cartoon. Featuring quotes from an exclusive, in-depth interview with Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob, as well as quiz questions in every chapter to test the reader’s SpongeBob IQ, SpongeBob SquarePants is the perfect book for all fans of the dorky and loveable talking sea sponge and his band of friends.

Prior to its October 11, 2023, publication, Rowman and Littlefield provided an early galley for review.

This show came along at the right time for me. My son was old enough to watch cartoons with on a regular basis, so this one was a favorite that we shared together. With so many layers, it appealed to both kids and adults alike. Those first few seasons especially, before it became a mainstream juggernaut, are pure comic gold.

As the book's full title suggests, Volponi is taking a fun approach as he looks back at the past twenty-five years of the show and its cast of colorful, iconic characters. The entire gang is here, and we get the stories behind their creations and the details about their evolutions as the series progressed.

As someone who watched from the very start (and owns four DVDs covering the first two seasons or so), the episodes that are recapped were refreshing reminders. I also appreciated all the trivial details that were sprinkled throughout the book. It truly works well as a celebration for a show that celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary next year.

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