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Bestseller Dav Pilkey says the pulled book is harmful

Mark Kennedy, March 31, 2021 6:45PM AP

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Dav Pilkey, author of the Captain Underpants series, pictured in 2017 at the Los Angeles premiere of the film adaptation. media_cameraDav Pilkey, author of the Captain Underpants series, pictured in 2017 at the Los Angeles premiere of the film adaptation.

humanities

Reading level: orange

A graphic novel spin-off*of the wildly popular Captain Underpants series is being pulled from library and bookstore shelves after its publisher said it “perpetuates* passive* racism.”

The book is 2010′s The Adventures of Ook and Gluk by Dav Pilkey, who has apologised, saying it “contains harmful racial stereotypes*” and is “wrong and harmful to my Asian readers.”

The book is about a pair of friends who travel from 500,001 B.C. to 2222, where they meet a martial arts* instructor who teaches them Kung Fu and they learn ideas found in Chinese philosophy*.

The publisher Scholastic said it had removed the book from its websites, stopped processing orders for it and sought a return of all unsold copies.

media_cameraDav Pilkey is also the author of the popular Dog Man series.

“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 publisher said in a statement.

Pilkey said in a YouTube statement that he planned to donate his profits from the book to groups working to stop violence against Asians and to promoting diversity* in children’s books and publishing.

“I hope that you, my readers, will forgive me, and learn from my mistake that even unintentional and passive stereotypes and racism are harmful to everyone,” he wrote. “I apologise, and I pledge* to do better.”

The decision was made after a Korean American father of two young children started a Change.org petition asking for an apology from the publisher and writer.

It also follows a number of serious race crimes against Asian Americans since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this month, the estate of Dr. Seuss said six of his books would no longer be published because they showed “hurtful and wrong” images of ethnic groups including Asian Americans. The move drew immediate reaction on social media from those who called it another example of “cancel culture.”

Books - RELUCTANTREADS media_cameraThe best-selling Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey.

GLOSSARY

  • spin-off: something associated with a larger project
  • perpetuates: keeps it going
  • passive: allowing something without doing anything
  • stereotype: a fixed, oversimplified idea about a particular type of person or thing
  • martial arts: various combat traditions with mainly Asian origins
  • philosophy: a theory or attitude that can guide beliefs and behaviours
  • circulation: public availability of something
  • withdraw: take away, remove
  • diversity: variety, difference
  • pledge: a special promise

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. What series is children’s author Dav Pilkey best known for?
  2. What is the title of the book that will be removed from libraries and bookstores?
  3. Where does Dav Pilkey intend to donate money made from the book?
  4. Why was this decision made by the publisher and the author?
  5. Critics of the move on social media call it another example of what?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Design a poster
Design a poster that will help younger kids understand why The Adventures of Ook and Gluk has been removed.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Civics and Citizenship

2. Extension
Can you write a definition of ‘passive racism’? List other examples of passive racism that you can think of.

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Civics and Citizenship, Personal and Social Capability

VCOP ACTIVITY
Grammar and VCOP
The glossary of terms helps you to understand and learn the ambitious vocabulary being used in the article. Can you use the words outlined in the glossary to create new sentences? Challenge yourself to include other VCOP (vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation) elements in your sentence/s. Have another look through the article, can you find any other Wow Words not outlined in the glossary?

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