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Children’s Lit Commish: No More ‘Fancy’ Covers


The following is a work of fiction.

Claiming unfairness in the fact that books with appealing covers get checked out more, the Children’s Literature Commissioner has declared that, beginning immediately, all books must be published with jackets that are “trend-free, novelty free, and good for children”. While the use of expensive jacket materials like foil and glitter will be strictly forbidden, the rule will also extend to cover artwork.

“Boys must be depicted in knickers and suspenders, girls must wear bonnets and prairie dresses.”

A more detailed list of forbidden materials and cover elements was provided (see below).

When asked how a genre like urban fiction could survive under the new rule, the commissioner begrudgingly noted that concessions have been made. “There is no rule against tweed driving caps being worn backwards.”

Flanked by the heads of the major children’s book publishing houses, the commissioner was quickly asked to divulge the reasoning behind this move. The commissioner cites the Pepsi Challenge as his inspiration. “If all covers must follow the same rules, the playing field will be leveled. The insidious nature of shelf appeal must be stopped.”

Forbidden Materials:

Glitter, foil, thick paper, plastic jewels of any kind, and “treatments that make any paper surfaces shinier than burlap.”

Forbidden Cover Art Depictions:

All clothes invented later than 1850, vigorous activities (such as jumping and dancing), and all forms of physical contact (such hugging and hand-holding).

Click the links below to read previous Children’s Lit Commish posts:

Children’s Lit Commish: ‘All Books Will Actually Just Be Videos By 2012?

Children’s Lit Commish: ‘No Blogging Allowed at Blog Conference’

Children’s Lit Commish: ‘No More Non-Famous Authors’

Children’s Lit Commish: ‘No More Adaptations’

Children’s Lit Commish: ‘No More Non-Series Books’

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. Oh, man. The soda went EVERYWHERE. Thank goodness the keyboard is under the desk. Tweed caps worn backwards … could be a book cover trend coming!

  2. Ha! ;-) Too bad you have to include the heading disclaimer for the humorly challenged…

  3. Scope Notes says:

    Yes, I have had one too many outraged “I can’t believe the commissioner did this!!” comments to not make it clear that these posts are strictly made up.

  4. Scope Notes says:

    Really, my only goal is to generate a genuine spit-take , so I am very pleased to hear your comment!

  5. You didn’t ban SOCKS??????????

  6. Scope Notes says:

    I wouldn’t want feet to go cold.