A Change.org petition from a Korean-America father spurred the actions
Scholastic has pulled Dav Pilkey’s 2010 graphic novel The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future due to “passive racism” throughout the book. Pilkey, who is the author of the uber-popular Dog Man and Captain Underpants series publicly apologized, saying in part, “It was and is wrong and harmful to my Asian readers, friends, and family, and to all Asian people.”
Scholastic’s acknowledgement and a public apology by Pilkey was spurred after Korean-American father Billy Kim started a Change.org petition demanding both after reading the book with his sons.
“I realized the book relied upon multiple instances of racist imagery and stereotypical tropes, including a ‘Kung Fu master’ wearing what’s purported to be a traditional-style Tang coat, dashes for eyes for the Asian characters, stereotypical Chinese proverbs, and a storyline that has the Kung Fu master rescued by the non-Asian protagonists using their Kung Fu skills,” Kim wrote in part. “It is this type of passive racism that has contributed to the continued hate and prejudice experienced by Asian Americans on a daily basis.”
The publishing company stated that it has 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,” Scholastic wrote.
“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 also publicly apologized via 45-second YouTube video.
In the apology video, the author showed a letter he wrote and signed, saying, “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 added that he and his wife will be donating all proceeds from the sale of The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future to charities that “provide free books, art supplies, and theater for children in underserved communities; organizations that promote diversity in children’s books and publishing; and organizations designed to stop violence and hatred against Asians.”