Scholastic pulls children's book from 'Captain Underpants' author over 'harmful racial stereotypes and passively racist imagery'

Megan Johnson
·3-min read
Author Dav Pilkey, known for the popular Captain Underpants series, apologized for the
Author Dav Pilkey, known for the popular Captain Underpants series, apologized for the "passive stereotypes and racism" in his 2010 book, which has now been pulled from shelves. (Photo: Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic)

A children's book from Dav Pilkey, author of the popular Captain Underpants series, has been pulled from shelves because it perpetuates "passive racism."

Last week, children's publisher Scholastic announced they will no longer distribute Pilkey's 2010 graphic novel, The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future.

"Together, we recognize that this book perpetuates passive racism," the publishing house said in a statement on their website. "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."

They will also "take steps" to inform schools and libraries who have the book that they've decided to withdraw it from publication.

The decision was made with "the full support" of Pilkey, the statement said. The author took to his YouTube page to discuss the change, saying, "it was brought to my attention that this book also contains harmful racial stereotypes and passively racist imagery,” he wrote. “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 initially said the book, which tells the story of a group of friends who use martial arts and Chinese philosophy to save the world, was created to “showcase diversity, equality and non-violent conflict resolution.” However, he now sees the harm.

Related: Dav Pilkey reveals his new book in 'Dog Man' series

"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," wrote Pilkey. "I apologize, and I pledge to do better."

The decision to remove Pilkey's book comes shortly after the announcement that Dr. Seuss Enterprises will stop the publication and licensing of six Dr. Seuss titles which "portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong."

Those six titles — If I Ran the Zoo, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, McElligot's Pool, Scrambled Eggs Super!, The Cat's Quizzer and On Beyond Zebra! — were chosen because they contain racist imagery, Yahoo Life previously reported.

The announcement to stop publication of the Seuss titles coincided with the National Education Association's Read Across America Day, a youth literacy event which was aligned with the birthday of Seuss until 2018. Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced they were in support of the decision, and are committed to ensuring the work of Seuss (real name: Theodor Seuss Geisel) "represents and supports all communities and families."

Despite the agreement of Dr. Seuss Enterprises, conservative critics blamed the decision to stop publishing the six books on "cancel culture." Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted, "When history looks back at this time it will be held up as an example of a depraved sociopolitical purge driven by hysteria and lunacy."

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