Phineas and Ferb: How to Conquer the Tri-State Area (by Heinz Doofenshmirtz)
“Phineas and Ferb” is a popular animated children’s series on the Disney Channel. The series, created by Jeff “Swampy” Marsh and Dan Povenmire, follows two stepbrothers through a series of grand schemes, while a secondary plot typically features a secret agent, Perry the Platypus, fighting an evil scientist named Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz.
This book, purportedly written by Doofenshmirtz, explores his life and projects. The book contains no plot, but rather a series of random gags, such as a How Evil Are You? Quiz, a list of Top Secret Agents, an ad for the Doofenshmirtz Institute of Evilolgy (D.I.E), and information about Doofenshmirtz’s most evil ideas.
Fans of the Phineas and Ferb series may want this book to round out their collection, but there isn’t much to interest anyone else. Children are unlikely to identify with Doofenshmirtz, since he is not only an adult, but also arrogant (he calls himself a renowned evil genius), idiotic (he fails at everything and lost a battle to a plant), and pathetic (his childhood best friend was a balloon). Kids may enjoy saying the silly words, such as Doonkelberry Patch and Schtoompel Field as shown on a map, and The Doofwich, a recipe for a sandwich that includes Limburger cheese, liver slices, and beet skins.
Some of Doofenshmirtz’s evil ideas are humorous in a way that will especially appeal to young boys, such as the Poop-inator, which trains pigeons to poop on anything, and the Ball-Gown-inator, which humiliates one’s enemies by attiring them in an elegant ball gown.
Others aren’t as funny—much of the humor seems random, though it may make more sense to fans of the TV show. Despite the cover’s note that the book is “Filled with Truly Evil Tips!” and the opening’s promise that the manual will “help you realize your evil potential,” none of the evil ideas are the kind of practical mischief that readers could actually use. For example, the advice under “How to Create Your Very Own Evil Lair” mentions a walk-in closet for storing lab coats, a blueprint storage system, and neatly organized tools and lasers, rather than something kids could attempt for fun. Readers do at least receive a “Certificate of Evil” at the end of the book.
At only 80 pages, filled with large text and half-page illustrations on most pages, this is a quick read that may appeal to reluctant readers who love the TV show and already have the complete collection of “Phineas and Ferb” joke books and comic novels, but it’s not the best place to start exploring the series.