Publisher Scholastic has halted publication of a book by children's author Dav Pilkey, best known for his Captain Underpants series, who offered an online apology for the title's unintended "racist imagery".
Pilkey, author of more than 40 books, said The Adventures Of Ook And Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen From The Future, first published in 2010, would be pulled from retail and library shelves.
"I hope you, my readers, will forgive me, and learn from my mistakes that even unintentional and passive stereotypes and racism are harmful to everyone," said Pilkey, 55, in a recent statement on YouTube.
The graphic novel about a group of friends who save the world using kung-fu was actually "intended to showcase diversity, equality and non-violent conflict resolution" but it ultimately backfired, he said.
"It was brought to my attention that this book also contains harmful racial stereotypes and passively racist imagery," said Pilkey. "It was and is wrong and harmful to my Asian readers, friends and family, and to all Asian people."
The move came during national soul-searching in the United States over anti-Asian harassment and violence that followed the killing of eight people, including six Asian women, at day spas in Atlanta.
The decision to pull the book followed the removal this month of a handful of titles written decades ago by Dr Seuss. The books were found to contain racist and insensitive imagery.
With Pilkey's "full support", Scholastic said it halted publication on March 22, removed the book from its websites, stopped fulfilment of any outstanding orders and sought a return of all inventory, including from schools and libraries.
"Together, we recognise that this book perpetuates passive racism," Scholastic said in a statement. "We are deeply sorry for this serious mistake."
Pilkey has said that his own disruptive behaviour as a child led him to create his own comic books. He later achieved international recognition with his Captain Underpants series, which was adapted as a film.
The Captain Underpants books are on the American Library Association's list of the top 100 most banned and challenged books from the past decade because of complaints from parents about violent imagery. - Reuters