Captain Underpants

Scholastic Pulls Popular Children's Book From ‘Captain Underpants' Author

The graphic novel, first published in 2010, ceased publication this week

In this June 1, 2017, file photo, Author Dav Pilkey speaks to moviegoers after the screening of Captain Underpants during Greenwich International Film Festival, Day 1 in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for Greenwich International Film Festival

Scholastic has made the decision to pull Dav Pilkey’s 2010 graphic novel “The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future” due to its perpetuation of "passive racism."

In a statement released by Scholastic, the publishing company stated that it stopped the distribution of the title.

“On Monday, March 22, 2021, with the full support of Dav Pilkey, Scholastic halted distribution of the 2010 book 'The Adventures of Ook and Gluk.' Together, we recognize that this book perpetuates passive racism.

“We are deeply sorry for this serious mistake. Scholastic has removed the book from our websites, stopped fulfillment of any orders (domestically or abroad), contacted our retail partners to explain why this book is no longer available, and sought a return of all inventory. We will take steps to inform schools and libraries who may still have this title in circulation of our decision to withdraw it from publication”

The statement added, “Throughout our 100 year history, we have learned that trust must be won every day by total vigilance. It is our duty and privilege to publish books with powerful and positive representations of our diverse society, and we will continue to strengthen our review processes as we seek to support all young readers.”

Pilkey, who is the author of the “Dog Man” and "Captain Underpants" series, shared an apology that was posted on YouTube in a 45-second clip that showed a typed and signed letter.

"About ten years ago I created a book about a group of friends who save the world using kung fu and the principles found in Chinese philosophy,” the letter reads. “'The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future' was intended to showcase diversity, equality, and non-violent conflict resolution.

"But this week it was brought to my attention that this book also contains harmful racial stereotypes and passively racist imagery.”

He continued, “I wanted to take this opportunity to publicly apologize for this. It was and is wrong and harmful to my Asian readers, friends, and family, and to all Asian people.”

Pilkey wrote that Scholastic agreed to share responsibility and reiterated the publisher's decision to halt the publication of new copies of the book and remove current copies from stores and libraries.

“I hope that you, my readers, will forgive me, and learn from my mistake that even unintentional and passive stereotypes and racism is harmful to everyone. I apologize, and I pledge to do better,” the apology letter concluded

In a postscript, Pilkey shared that he will be donating the advance and royalties from the sales of 'The Adventures of Ook and Gluk' to various charities, including the organizations We Need Diverse Books, The AAPI, and TheaterWorks USA.

"The Adventures of Ook and Gluk" is a spinoff from Pilkey's hit "Captain Underpants" series and became a New York Times bestseller after its release. It follows the adventures of two caveboys named Ook and Gluk who meet a martial arts instructor, Master Wong, who teaches them kung fu.

The removal of "The Adventures of Ook and Gluk" follows Dr. Seuss Enterprises' decision earlier this month to pull six Dr. Seuss books due to racist and insensitive imagery, including titles like “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo." Other titles affected by the decision included “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.”

“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises told The Associated Press in a statement. “Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families.”

This story first appeared on TODAY.com. More from TODAY:

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