A spin-off book of the highly successful Captain Underpants franchise will no longer be distributed due to its “passive racism” and Asian stereotypes.
“The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future,” a graphic novel by children’s author Dav Pilkey, was first published in 2010. The book follows cavemen Ook and Gluk as they time travel to the year 2222 and meet a martial arts instructor named Master Wong.
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According to an official statement issued by Scholastic — the publisher of Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants books — “Ook and Gluk” will be pulled off shelves. It had an initial print run of one million copies, according to the BBC.
Scholastic acknowledged that the book “perpetuates passive racism” and has received “full support” from Pilkey to halt its distribution. This decision comes in the midst of an increase in anti-Asian attacks in the States.
“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,” Scholastic wrote. “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.”
Pilkey addressed the graphic novel in a statement he uploaded to YouTube on March 26: “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 book was allegedly meant to “showcase diversity, equality, and non-violent conflict-resolution.”
“It was and is wrong and harmful to my Asian readers, friends, and family, and to all Asian people,” he wrote.
According to The Guardian, Pilkey will donate the advance and royalties from “Ook and Gluk” to several organizations that combat anti-Asian prejudice and promote diversity in publishing.
Pilkey is not the only children’s author who came under fire this year. Last month, British comedian and children’s author David Walliams was heavily criticized for “Brian Wong, Never Wrong,” a short story rife with outdated Asian stereotypes.
Feature Images via Expanded Books (left)