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100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

Dear Barnes & Noble (And Everyone): What Is This?!

Over the weekend author/illustrator Matthew Cordell posed a question.

One of the most confounding questions children’s literature has yet seen.

If you’ve been to the children’s section at a Barnes & Noble, you’ve probably seen this little guy/gal up on the wall among the other more well-known characters. But what is it? Where did it come from? Who is the artist? Here’s another image:

The folks over at Abebooks tried to figure it out, but are at a loss.

Given the fact that no one can place the character, it tells me one of two things. Either it’s:

  1. … just super obscure.
  2. … not a character from a book at all, but just something cute B&N hung up on the wall.

What do you think? Can you place it?

(Related question: is it white and gold or blue and black?)

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About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.

Comments

  1. Travis Jonker says:

    It’s a wolf, right? There were a few different illustrators suggested on Facebook, but Simms Taback was the one that seemed most likely to me.

    • Pam Phillips says:

      Is this still open I have one i would love to submit. I had some fun with it.

  2. Without looking it up, the style makes me think Lucy Cousins. She did a Mother Goose book and, well, hundreds of kids books. If I was betting I’d guess her.

    • Travis Jonker says:

      Lucy Cousins! That makes a lot of sense to me, Jim – thanks for giving it some thought

  3. Damn you Jonker! Now I’m obsessed! I looked at a bunch of Russell Hoban, Quentin Blake, Simms Taback and Lucky Cousins artwork and think it’s probably either Taback or Cousins. I just wrote emails to folks who may know from each of their respective web sites. I also just sent an email to a VP of marketing at B&N Inc. If anyone can find the info, they should be able to.

    I’ll let you know what I find out.

  4. I heard back from someone at B&N already! They wanted a better copy of the image so I attached a file. No news yet, but at least someone at their head office is looking.

  5. I love that we’ve gone all Nancy Drew over this.

  6. I am a children’s lead bookseller at a Barnes & Noble in Michigan. This question has been batted around at work (a local teacher even offered the kids in her class a reward if they came up with the answer) and on the B&N Facebook page over and over. We have never been able to get an answer from anyone. Even though all the other characters we have on the walls are easily recognizable, we sincerely believe this is just a made up character. But, if someone can prove otherwise, thousands of B&N booksellers would be forever grateful.

    • Travis Jonker says:

      Thanks for this, Suzze! It seems like “completely made up” might be the most likely answer, eh?

  7. James Martin says:

    We B&N booksellers, and former booksellers, have been searching for the answer for years to no avail. We refer to it as The Little Blue Bastard, or LBB. We’ve thought Steig might have been the artist, or Marc Brown, but no. Corporate doesn’t know. We’ve asked librarians and other booksellers. No one seems to know.

  8. Jiveturkey says:

    Anyone unfamiliar with Blue Weed Wolf and His Big Happy Brick should not consider themselves literate.

    • OK, I confess great gullibility. I googled “Blue Weed Wolf and His Big Happy Brick” and got a bunch of Marijuana related hits. When I was young we called it “pot” or “grass.”

  9. The name The Little Blue Bastard pretty much just made my day.

    I still think it’s made-up and someone is either pulling our leg or was really tired the day they created these decal thingies. Those don’t look like Lucy-Cousins or even Simms-Taback eyebrows to me, though I’m very often wrong.

  10. Maybe whoever was in charge of designing the Children’s Book Areas at Barnes and Noble and getting permission from publishers/illustrators added their own doodle to the mix…

  11. Even if we never know the true identity of the LBB, I shall still be forever in love with this post and its comments section.

  12. Fran Manushkin says:

    Me too! It’s a lot of fun and also a great interruption to my work. I always look for these.

  13. Sam Bloom says:

    I’m officially driving to my nearest B&N ASAP so I can SMH and LOL at the LBB. =)

  14. Well it’s been a few days and no answer from B&N Marketing. I sincerely doubt it’s made up. I imagine whenever the re-did the Children’s sections in the late 90s someone designed these and got licenses for all the characters. They probably even got publishers to chip in to “promote” thier characters. So some publisher probably had something coming out by Cousins or Tabeck that had this character in it and it’s since gone out of print. They should have stuck to a classic character but they didn’t and now we have the guy that will go down in history as the Little Blue Bastard which I love. Someday someone is going to be leafing through an old picture book in a used bok store and come across this guy. I can’t wait for that day.

    • Travis Jonker says:

      Thanks again for looking into the matter, Jim! I agree that it would be pretty odd for the character to not be from an actual book, so I’m holding out hope someone comes across the answer

  15. Whoever it is… if your only legacy is The Little Blue Bastard, well, then that’s one heck of a way to go, friend.

  16. Has anyone in blogland or someone at BNN tried to contact Lucy Cousins or Sims Tabeck to see if they recognize it?

  17. Halley Repasch says:

    I was the kids’ lead for years, and kids always asked me this… I told them he was the big bad wolf. I always assumed (after asking several people all over and nobody having a clue) that he was maybe an easter egg, as in somebody from the design team let their child draw him and just put him up for fun.

  18. If anyone was wondering, if you contextual click on this image in Chrome and choose “search Google for this image” you get nothing. Well, you get a lot, but no helpful results. Here’s a screen shot of what came up: http://ow.ly/MccZT

  19. I did an exhaustive search a while back, too. Hanging up my sleuthing hat…
    I think it looks like a rough sketch by Quentin Blake or Shel Silverstein — like, maybe it was drawn super-fast (at a booksigning, maybe?) and then someone copied and enlarged it. The double ear lines and the extra lines inside the eyeballs suggest to me that it wasn’t final art from a printed book.
    Fun comments here!