100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

The Mysteries of Cardboard Schu

In the beginning, it was fun.

John Schumacher, former school librarian and current Scholastic Ambassador for School Libraries had a cardboard cutout. How many people have a cardboard cutout? The reaction to the cutout’s debut at the American Library Association Annual Conference was enthusiastic:

Then things started to change.

While taking my picture with Cardboard Schu at ALA, I could have sworn he whispered his catch phrase in my ear, but with a slightly ominous twist:

Happy reading . . . Travis.

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I’d be lying if I said it didn’t freak me out.

But the moment I truly realized something strange was going on was when, this past Monday at Nerd Camp, I walked around a corner and all of a sudden . . .

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. . . Cardboard Schu was RIGHT THERE, looking me in the eyes. It (he?) startled me and it felt, I don’t know, a little creepy.

But here’s the strangest part – I asked around and I couldn’t find anyone who knew how Cardboard Schu made it to Nerd Camp. I had an uneasy feeling.

Not long after, rumors began to surface about an “Emergency Backup Cardboard Schu”, locked away for safe keeping deep in the warehouses of Scholastic Inc. I wondered, “Why would an Emergency Backup Cardboard Schu be necessary? Are they concerned they might . . . lose control of the original Cardboard Schu??”

And then, yesterday, my worst fears were confirmed. Cardboard Schu became sentient. And started a Twitter account:


Real Schu was clearly disturbed too. You could all but hear the nervous laugh that accompanied this reply tweet:

It was clear that Cardboard Schu was made in the image of Real Schu . . .

. . . but some things clearly got fuzzy in the replication process:

I went to bed shaken, with one last question on my mind: where will this end?

And then, as if answering my nightmare, I woke up to this message . . .

CS Tweet

The mystery continues.

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.


  1. Since the chances of me meeting the REAL Mr. Schu are slim, I’d be happy meeting Cardboard Schu :D

  2. Best marketing ever!
    Who doesn’t know Mr. Schu?

  3. Carol Kaner says:

    This is so funny. I took my picture with Cardboard Mr Schu at Nerd Camp. Who could resist?

  4. Kathy Ishizuka says:

    Who needs Pokemon, I say.

  5. Jen walsh says:

    Oh…yes!!!! A “where’s Mr. Schu app!”

  6. H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S!!!!!

  7. Jen Daly says:

    Really hoping that Cardboard Schu shows up at the Scholastic Reading Summit in Cincinnati…of course, the real Mr. Schu will be there too…do they ever show up at the same place at the same time?!