A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future is the first book in a graphc novel series by Dav Pilkey, author of Captain Underpants, and is written in the same spirit. First published in 2010, it's about two friends who use kung fu and principles of Chinese philosophy to stop the evil Goppernoppers from enslaving their family and friends and destroying the world. However, in March 2021, publisher Scholastic and Pilkey, halted the book's distribution for its perpetuation of passive racism by stereotyping Asians. Pilkey said in a letter posted on his YouYube channel that the book was "intended to showcase diversity, equality, and non-violent conflict resolution. But ... it was brought to my attention that this book also contains harmful racial stereotypes and passively racist imagery. 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." Some parents may also be bothered by the book's intentional misspellings (like "torcher" for torture), meant to show it's written by kids. Crude language and insults include "poo," "butt," "jerk," "idiot," and "dum-dum." And a dinosaur paints the side of a building with a naked picture of Ook and Gluk, showing their bottoms. (Dinosaurs and cavepeople live at the same time in this book.)
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What's the story?
In OOK AND GLUK: THE ADVENTURES OF KUNG-FU CAVEMEN FROM THE FUTURE -- supposedly written by the mischievous protagonists from the Captain Underpants series -- Ook and Gluk live in Caveland, Ohio, in 500,001 B.C., where their pastimes include escaping a dinosaur and thwarting Chief Goppernopper. When an evil CEO from 2222 A.D. -- who happens to be related to Goppernopper -- builds a time portal allowing his corporation to steal natural resources from the past, the chief helps him enslave Caveland's people and capture Ook and Gluk for torture experiments back in the future. But they soon escape and begin kung fu training with Master Wong, in order to save their people ... and the world as they know it.
Is it any good?
Th jokes in this silly graphic novel are right on target for the age. (For example, a billboard advertising "I drink delishous warm apple cider from Pitsburgh fruit juice company!!!" is zapped with a laser gun and changes to "I drink arm pit juice.") And readers will appreciate the "flip-o-ramas" that come with each chapter (flip pages back and forth to watch Lily the dinosaur vomit, for example).
But even through all the rowdiness, Ook and Gluk try to do good for their friends and the planet. And Ook begins a sweet romance with Lan, the daughter of his kung fu teacher, who agrees to become his caveman wife. However, due to what author Dav Pilkey called in a statement the book's "harmful racial stereotypes and passively racist imagery," he and the publisher pulled it from circulation in in March 2021.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Asians are portrayed in The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future? How can stereotypes be harmful?
What do you think of the misspellings in the story, which are used to indicate that it's being written by George and Harold from the Captain Underpants series. Do you find these misspellings part of the fun, or do they distract from the story?
How is reading a graphic novel different than reading a book? Which do you prefer? How would this book have been different if it had been written as a regular novel?
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