Scholastic pulls ‘Captain Underpants’ book for ‘passive racism’
Scholastic has ceased publication of a children’s book from the “Captain Underpants” series after its publisher said it “perpetuates passive racism.”
The novel, called “The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future,” will no longer be distributed, according to a statement released by Scholastic.
“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,” the publisher said in the statement.
“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.”
Scholastic 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.”
Moreover, Author Dav Pilkey has apologized, saying it “contains harmful racial stereotypes” and is “wrong and harmful to my Asian readers.”
‘The Adventures of Ook and Gluk’ follows two friends who who travel from 500,001 B.C. to 2222, where they meet a martial arts instructor who teaches them kung fu and they learn principles found in Chinese philosophy.
In a statement released on YouTube, Pilkey said he will be donating his advance and all royalties from the book’s sales to charities and organizations designed to stop Asian hatred.
“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,” Pilkey wrote.
This decision to cease the publication of this book comes during a deadly increase of hate crimes against Asian-Americans.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, violence towards Asian-Americans has surged. Thousand of demonstrators gathered over the weekend for a unity rally and march to stop Asian hate.
Earlier this month, Dr. Seuss also announced that six of his books will no longer be published because they contain depictions of race and ethnicities that were “hurtful and wrong.”
Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy