Scholastic has pulled a book by ‘Captain Underpants’ author Dav Pilkey over its ‘passive racism’ and racial stereotypes

Dav Pilkey Captain Underpants Movie Premiere author.JPG
Author Dav Pilkey attends the premiere of “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie” in Los Angeles in 2017.

  • Scholastic said it has stopped distributing a book by Dav Pilkey for perpetuating “passive racism.”
  • “We are deeply sorry for this serious mistake,” the children’s book publisher said in a statement.
  • The pulled book, “The Adventures of Ook and Gluk,” hit bookshelves in 2010.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Scholastic has pulled a children’s book, “The Adventures of Ook and Gluk,” for perpetuating “passive racism.”

The publisher said in a statement the decision was made on March 22 with the author, Dav Pilkey, who is known for the wildly successful “Captain Underpants” series.

In his own statement, Pilkey said the book was “intended to showcase diversity, equality, and non-violent conflict resolution.”

The book is about friends who save the world using kung fu and the principles found in Chinese philosophy, he said.

“But this week it was brought to my attention that this book also contains harmful racial stereotypes and passively racist imagery,” the author said. “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.”

The Adventures of Ook and Gluk
“The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future” by Dev Pilkey

Scholastic’s decision on the book – subtitled “Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future” – followed a similar decision from Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which said earlier this month it would cease publication of six Dr. Seuss titles.

In the days after that announcement, other Dr. Seuss titles soared to the top of Amazon’s bestseller chart. The books were pulled from eBay. Politicians and commentators claimed that “cancel culture” had come for Dr. Seuss.

Pilkey said he and Scholastic would work to remove copies of “The Adventures of Ook and Gluk” from bookshops and library shelves, although it’s unclear whether libraries would remove the book.

As of Sunday, Scholastic’s websites in the US and elsewhere had pulled the title. Current orders won’t be fulfilled, the company said.

“Throughout our 100-year history, we have learned that trust must be won every day by total vigilance,” Scholastic said in its statement.

It added: “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 said his advance and royalties from the book would be given to charities. He said: “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. I apologize, and I pledge to do better.”

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Trump says China is ‘laughing’ at the US about Dr. Seuss while ‘trying to kill us in so many different ways’

donald trump china woke dr seuss
Donald Trump

  • Former President Donald Trump said China was laughing at the United States for being “woke”
  • He cited a row in the US over racism in the Dr. Seuss books, which had drawn criticism from conservative critics.
  • “When China looks at woke they see the biggest problem we have is Dr Seuss – in the meantime they are building factories and trying to kill us in so many different ways,” he told Fox News.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Donald Trump on Monday said China was laughing at the United States for being “woke” over the racism row concerning Dr. Seuss books, while “trying to kill us in so many ways.”

Trump was asked on Fox News on Monday why he was continuing to air his views on politics after leaving the White House, which represents a break from presidential tradition.

He replied that he felt compelled to because President Joe Biden’s administration along with progressive Democratic lawmakers, were “destroying our country.”

“When China looks at woke they see the biggest problem we have is Dr Seuss – in the meantime they are building factories and trying to kill us in so many different ways,” Trump told Fox News on Monday.

“They laugh at us. They think we’re so … Frankly, they think our country is stupid when they look at this, when our competitors look at what’s going on in our country. Taking down the statues to great heroes and so many other things.”

The president was a frequent critic of China during his time in office, most recently criticised for its role in the coronavirus pandemic, which he has referred to as “the kung flu” and the “China virus.”

Trump’s reference to Dr. Seuss references a row about the late author after his estate said they would stop publishing several of his books due to their racist and offensive imagery.

Dr. Seuss Enterprises said it took the decision to remove six books from sale because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”

The decision drew criticism from multiple conservative pundits and politicians including Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Jr., who said the move demonstrated that the “woke mob” had caught up with the author, who died 30 years ago.

The publicity caused several Dr. Seuss books which had not been pulled from sale to rise to the top of Amazon’s list of best-selling books, a fact which was celebrated by Sen. Cruz, who posted a picture of the list on Twitter with the caption: “Could Biden try to ban my book next?”

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Ted Cruz has been selling signed copies of the Dr. Seuss book ‘Green Eggs and Ham,’ and raised $125,000 in 24 hours

ted cruz
Ted Cruz attending a campaign event.

  • Senator Ted Cruz raised more than $125,000 selling signed copies of “Green Eggs and Ham.”
  • Cruz said he was autographing the books to fight back against the “cancel culture mob.”
  • “Lefties are losing their minds,” he said on Twitter.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A donation site run by Ted Cruz was raising money by selling copies of “Green Eggs and Ham,” which were signed by the senator.

“Lefties are losing their minds that I’m signing & sending copies of Green Eggs and Ham to anyone who donates $60 or more,” the Texas senator said on Twitter late Friday. “We’ve raised $125k in just 24 hours!”

If all buyers gave the minimum $60 donation, Cruz would have to put his signature in more than 2,000 copies of the book. On Twitter, he said the “hand-wringing” of his political opponents likely led to high sales of the signed books. Cruz’s team was positioning the sales as an effort to fight back against the “cancel culture mob.”

A blurb on one of the senator’s donation pages read: “Stand with Ted & Dr. Seuss against the cancel culture mob to claim your signed copy of Green Eggs and Ham.” The books would take between six and eight weeks to arrive, according to the site.

Earlier this month, Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced it would cease publication of six of his books. The company, which oversees the author’s estate, said the books, including “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo,” contained racist and offensive imagery.

The author’s most famous books, including “Green Eggs and Ham,” were not among those that would cease publication.

green eggs and ham
The cover of “Green Eggs and Ham.”

Cruz and others jumped to the defense of Dr. Seuss, saying the author had fallen victim to “cancel culture.” That seemed to result in a buying spree that sent popular Dr. Seuss books to the top of Amazon’s bestseller charts, although the books that would no longer be published were not among the top sellers.

Cruz has long held “Green Eggs and Ham” in high esteem.

In 2013, he spent hours speaking on the Senate floor during a filibuster against President Barack Obama’s health care plan, the Affordable Care Act. He started talking at about 2:30pm, and about six hours later, he paused to read the book as a bedtime story to his daughters, who were watching at home.

“It was my favorite story when I was a kid,” he said. He also loved reading it to his daughters, he added.

Cruz’s spirited reading was captured by C-SPAN 2, and it’s available here.

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Librarians are debating how to handle the Dr. Seuss controversy – but the books will stay on the shelves for now

Dr Seuss picture
John Simpson, project director of exhibitions for The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, paints a mural based on artwork in the Dr. Seuss book “Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?”

Bookstores will soon be without six Dr. Seuss titles found to be offensive, but library borrowers will still be able to find them on their shelves.

On Tuesday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which oversees the author’s estate, said it would cease publication of six books found to have racially insensitive imagery.

For libraries, the removal of offensive books is a complex issue. Leaving books on the shelves may lead to backlash, but pulling them could be seen as a form of censorship.

“Libraries across the country are having conversations around how to balance our core values of intellectual freedom, with the harmful stereotypes depicted in many children’s classics,” said Olivia Gallegos, communications manager at the Denver Public Library.

At the New York Public Library, the six Dr. Seuss titles are expected to be available until they’re too worn out to be borrowed. When that happens, the library won’t be able to replace them with new versions, so they won’t be replaced.

“In the meantime, librarians, who care deeply about serving their communities and ensuring accurate and diverse representation in our collections – especially children’s books – will certainly strongly consider this information when planning storytimes, displays, and recommendations,” said Angela Montefinise, NYPL senior director of communications.

The American Library Association, which has a Bill of Rights and Code of Ethics for US libraries, offers guidelines for librarians. Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA’s ‘s Office for Intellectual Freedom, said she can’t speculate on how each individual library will handle the books, since US public libraries are mostly controlled by local governments.

“But an author’s or publisher’s decision to stop publishing a book should not be grounds alone for removing a book from a library’s collection,” Caldwell-Stone said.

She recommended librarians seek out ALA guidelines on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and other topics.

Insider this week asked librarians around the country for their thoughts about the six books. Some said the books presented an opportunity for parents to broach difficult conversations with readers of all ages. With the help of a librarian and the right context, they could be powerful tools for combating systematic racism, the librarians said.

The Denver Public library didn’t have plans to pull any Dr. Seuss books from its collection. Like most libraries, DPL makes removal decisions based on whether books are in demand, have up-to-date information, and are in good condition, said Gallegos.

At the Los Angeles Public Library, librarians encourage parents and guardians to help their young ones select books, said a library spokesperson.

“Our collection includes the six Dr. Seuss titles that will be discontinued by Dr. Seuss Enterprises. We recognize the challenges this presents, and our goal is to promote critical thinking and evaluation of literature among patrons of all ages,” said Peter Persic, director of public relations and marketing.

None of the librarians contacted by Insider said they would remove the books from the shelves, at least for the time being.

“Brooklyn Public Library stands firmly against censorship so while we do not showcase books with outdated or offensive viewpoints, we do not remove them either, using them instead as a springboard for conversations about healing and moving forward,” said a spokesperson for the Brooklyn Public Library.

But the DC Public Library said it will conduct an internal review. It will also consult with peer libraries and library associations to decide what to do with the six books, said George Williams, media relations manager.

“Library materials may be removed from the collection when the material is no longer timely, accurate, or relevant,” Williams said. “We also recognize that sometimes a title in the collection may need to be reconsidered or moved to another location for research or consultation.”

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Librarians are debating how to handle the Dr. Seuss furore – but say the books will stay on the shelves for now

Dr. Seuss Book If I Ran a Zoo Out of Print.JPG
A copy of the children’s book “If I Ran The Zoo” by author Dr. Seuss, which the publisher said will no longer be published.

Bookstores will soon be without six Dr. Seuss titles found to be offensive, but library borrowers will still be able to find them on their shelves. 

On Tuesday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which oversees the author’s estate, said it would cease publication of six books found to have racially insensitive imagery.

For libraries, the removal of offensive books is a complex issue. Leaving books on the shelves may lead to backlash, but pulling them could be seen as a form of censorship. 

“Libraries across the country are having conversations around how to balance our core values of intellectual freedom, with the harmful stereotypes depicted in many children’s classics,” said Olivia Gallegos, communications manager at the Denver Public Library. 

At the New York Public Library, the six Dr. Seuss titles are expected to be available until they’re too worn out to be borrowed. When that happens, the library won’t be able to replace them with new versions, so they won’t be replaced. 

“In the meantime, librarians, who care deeply about serving their communities and ensuring accurate and diverse representation in our collections – especially children’s books – will certainly strongly consider this information when planning storytimes, displays, and recommendations,” said Angela Montefinise, NYPL senior director of communications.

The American Libraries Association, which has a Bill of Rights and Code of Ethics for US libraries, offers guidelines for librarians. Deborah Caldwell-Stone, ALA director, said she can’t speculate on how each individual library will handle the books, since US public libraries are mostly controlled by local governments. 

“But an author’s or publisher’s decision to stop publishing a book should not be grounds alone for removing a book from a library’s collection,” Caldwell-Stone said.

She recommended librarians seek out ALA guidelines on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and other topics. 

Insider this week asked librarians around the country for their thoughts about the six books. Some said the books presented an opportunity for parents to broach difficult conversations with readers of all ages. With the help of a librarian and the right context, they could be powerful tools for combating systematic racism, the librarians said. 

The Denver Public library didn’t have plans to pull any Dr. Seuss books from its collection. Like most libraries, DPL makes removal decisions based on whether books are in demand, have up-to-date information, and are in good condition, said Gallegos. 

At the Los Angeles Public Library, librarians encourage parents and guardians to help their young ones select books, said a library spokesperson.

“Our collection includes the six Dr. Seuss titles that will be discontinued by Dr. Seuss Enterprises. We recognize the challenges this presents, and our goal is to promote critical thinking and evaluation of literature among patrons of all ages,” said Peter Persic, director of public relations and marketing. 

None of the librarians contacted by Insider said they would remove the books from the shelves, at least for the time being. 

“Brooklyn Public Library stands firmly against censorship so while we do not showcase books with outdated or offensive viewpoints, we do not remove them either, using them instead as a springboard for conversations about healing and moving forward,” said a spokesperson for the Brooklyn Public Library. 

But the DC Public Library said it will conduct an internal review. It will also consult with peer libraries and library associations to decide what to do with the six books, said George Williams, media relations manager.  

“Library materials may be removed from the collection when the material is no longer timely, accurate, or relevant,” Williams said. “We also recognize that sometimes a title in the collection may need to be reconsidered or moved to another location for research or consultation.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

How much Did Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Jr.’s claims of ‘cancel culture’ help drive sales of Dr. Seuss books? Insider takes a closer look.

Dr. Seuss Statue in the Sun.JPG
A statue of author Theodor Seuss Geisel in the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden.

  • Many Dr. Seuss books topped bestsellers list this week, but what drove the sales? 
  • Republicans including Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Jr. said “cancel culture” had come for Dr. Seuss.
  • Telegram users implied they’d bought the titles because of the controversy. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Back in 1984, when he was 43 books into his career, Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, told a reporter from The San Diego Union-Tribune that most of his stories didn’t have serious messages, but were rather “just plain pleasant tommyrot.” 

The newspaper described the author at home in La Jolla, California. He was leaning back in his desk chair, discussing whether his newest book, “The Butter Battle Book,” was a “children’s books for adults or an adult book for children.”

“There are so many leaders who think in a childlike manner, I thought it wouldn’t make any difference if it was a children’s book or not,” Geisel said. 

Dr. Seuss’s books have meant a lot to both children and adults in the eight decades since he published his first one. Perhaps that’s why, this past week, they became a focal point in an ongoing conversation about so-called cancel culture.

Political commentators on the right, including Donald Trump Jr. and Senator Ted Cruz, jumped to the defense of Dr. Seuss as six of his books were pulled because of offensive or racist imagery. Trump said the move was a clear sign that the “woke mob” had come for the author, who died in 1991.

“I literally know ‘The Cat in the Hat’ by heart without the book there because I read it so many times to my children,” Trump said on Fox News. He added: “These things are not racist.”

Trump Jr and others placed the blame on their political opponents, liberal lawmakers, and the media. On Twitter, Rep. Matt Gaetz said: “At what point does our society reach cancel culture herd immunity?” 

But the decision to stop publishing the six books came from Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which controls the author’s estate, a fact that seemed to get lost in the conversation over so-called cancel culture. The call, you might say, was coming from inside the house. 

Dr. Seuss Enterprises said it sought to further the author’s mission of “hope, inspiration, inclusion, and friendship,” according to a statement released Tuesday.

“Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’s catalog represents and supports all communities and families,” the company said. 

The six books removed from its catalog were: ‘And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,’ ‘If I Ran the Zoo,’ ‘McElligot’s Pool,’ ‘On Beyond Zebra!,’ ‘Scrambled Eggs Super!,’ and ‘The Cat’s Quizzer.’

“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” the company said. 

According to researchers, Geisel also published hundreds of racist cartoons and drawings during his career. 

Dr. Seuss Book If I Ran a Zoo Out of Print.JPG
A copy of the children’s book “If I Ran The Zoo” by author Dr. Seuss, which the publisher said will no longer be published, is seen in this photo illustration taken in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., March 2, 2021.

By late afternoon on Friday, about half the books on Amazon’s bestseller list were either Dr. Seuss originals or spinoffs by other writers.

On Thursday, eBay told The Wall Street Journal it was scrubbing its site of the six pulled books. Late Friday, however, some of the pulled books could still be found for sale.

A copy of “The Cat’s Quizzer” listed on eBay had more than 50 bids, putting its price well about $200. Several copies of “Mulberry Street” were listed at about $150, plus shipping. 

President Joe Biden this week left Dr. Seuss books off his reading list for Read Across America Day. The fact-checking site PolitiFact said Biden’s decision wasn’t connected to the decision made by Dr. Seuss Enterprises. The shift had been years in the making, it added. 

When asked about the omission at the White House, Jen Psaki, press secretary, said: “And as we celebrate the love of reading and uplift diverse and representative authors, it is especially important that we ensure all children can see themselves represented and celebrated in the books that they read.” 

On Twitter, Cruz posted a screenshot of Amazon’s bestseller list full of Dr. Seuss titles, adding: “Could Biden try to ban my book next?”

 

Last week, Ann Coulter, the political commentator and author, focused her attention on “The Butter Battle Book,” and called for it to be removed from shelves. 

“If Dr. Seuss’s estate is going to pull any of his books, it should be the embarrassing one suggesting that the difference between the USSR and U.S.A was just that we buttered our bread on different sides – published in 1984, as Reagan was winning the Cold War,” Coulter wrote on Twitter.

Back in 1984, when Geisel had just finished “The Butter Battle Book,” he told the Tribune reporter that the book was one of his only books to make a political statement. He was against the one-upmanship that had made Americans fear all-out nuclear war with the Soviet Union.

“It is a departure, but I figure in all kids’ books, even the nonsense, the author is saying something,” Geisel said at the time. “And he might as well say something important once in awhile.”

So, all in all, the backlash over the company’s decision did seem to be behind a retail buying frenzy that sent Dr. Seuss books to the top of Amazon’s bestsellers charts, particularly as on Telegram, some members of alt-right groups implied they’d ordered Dr. Seuss books because of the controversy, according to screenshots seen by Insider. 

It should be noted, though, that the books that led sales – “The Cat in the Hat,” “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!,” and “Green Eggs and Ham” – weren’t the ones that had been pulled by Dr. Seuss Enterprises. 

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eBay is removing listings for the Dr. Seuss books that the author’s estate pulled due to their racist imagery

Dr. Seuss
  • eBay told The Wall Street Journal that it was scrubbing its site of six Dr. Seuss books the author’s estate pulled this week.
  • The books contained racist imagery, but the decision to pull them has sparked a right-wing backlash.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Online auction site eBay told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that it was “sweeping [its] marketplace” to prevent the resale of Dr. Seuss books that the author’s estate announced it would no longer publish or licence due to racist depictions of non-white characters. 

The books in question are “The Cat’s Quizzer,” “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “If I Ran the Zoo,” “McElligot’s Pool,”Scrambled Eggs Super!,” and “On Beyond Zebra!”.

The estate of the late cartoonist pulled the six volumes from licensing and publishing deals on Tuesday. Random House Children’s Books will continue to publish his more well-known classics like “The Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham.” 

On Tuesday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which manages the catalog of Theodor Seuss Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss, told Insider’s Rachel E. Greenspan in a statement that ‘”Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’s catalog represents and supports all communities and families.” 

Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ announcement of the decision spurred right-wing backlash decrying “cancel culture.” As Insider reported, after Glenn Beck, Donald Trump Jr., and Ted Cruz publicly denounced the decision, sales of the books went up. Forbes reported that second-hand copies of the books shot up in price, and several of Dr. Seuss’ other books climbed the bestseller charts on Amazon.  

A spokesperson for eBay did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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