100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

Gallery: The Art of the Picture Book Barcode

A creative barcode on the back of a picture book is like when you have one pump of peanut butter sauce in your Oreo blizzard. It doesn’t have to be there, but things a just a little bit better when it is.

I was recently given the challenge of whipping up a gallery of examples, so let’s take a look at a few, shall we?

(Do you know of a creative barcode I should add to this gallery? Take a picture and email it (along with the title) to me: scopenotes (at) gmail (dot) com)

Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld

The Shivers in the Fridge by Fran Manushkin; illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky

The Shivers in the Fridge (case cover) by Fran Manushkin; illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker; illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka; illustrated by Lane Smith; designed by Molly Leach (submitted by Monica)

This is a Moose by Richard Morris and Tom Lichtenheld

Circus 1,2,3 by Guido van Genechten (submitted by Paula)

Supersister by Beth Cadena; illustrated by Frank Dormer

Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman; illustrated by Dan Yaccarino (submitted by Carter)

Duck! Rabbit! By Amy Krouse Rosenthal; illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (submitted by Naseem)

Me and My Dragon by David Biedrzycki

Tales from Outer Suburbia (Canadian Edition) by Shaun Tan (submitted by Nancy)

Rainbow Chameleon by Yusuke Yonezu (submitted by Vina)

Meerkat Mail by Emily Gravett

From When Blue Met Egg by Lindsay Ward

Parrots Over Puerto Rico by By Susan L. Roth, Cindy Trumbore; illustrated by Susan L. Roth

Froodle by Antoinette Portis

Tools Rule by Aaron Meshon

A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse by Frank Viva

Special Delivery by Philip C. Stead; illustrated by Matthew Cordell

Roberto: The Insect Architect by Nina Laden

Ike’s Incredible Ink by Brianne Farley

Vegetables in Underwear by Jared Chapman

The World According to Musk Ox by Erin Cabatingan; illustrated by Matthew Myers

Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean by Jane Lynch and Lara Embry; illustrated by A.E. Mikesell

I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry

I’m the Best Artist in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry (submitted by Paula)

Hermelin the Detective by Mini Grey

Go! Go! Go! Stop! by Charise Mericle Harper

Hearts by Thereza Rowe

Waterloo and Trafalgar by Oliver Tallec

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty; illustrated by David Roberts

Giddy-Up Daddy by Troy Cummings

Sergio Scores! by Edel Rodriguez

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. You left out what I’d arguably say is the first one of all, the whole back cover of The Stinky Cheese Man. Props to book designer Molly Leach.

  2. Ha! Love this, Travis!

  3. My copy is out, so I can’t take a picture, but I’ve always loved the “I”m bigger than this barcode!” on I’m The Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry.

  4. These artistic incorporations of the UPC barcodes into the content of the book are very clever. Just be sure to have the barcode integrity tested (strive for an “A” rating). You really don’t want sales of your book hindered by scanning problems at the checkout counter.

  5. Just shelving books in my elementary school library today, after seeing this on facebook this morning, I came across some fun ones on

    Chopsticks, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal,
    Several of the Olivia books by Ian Falconer,
    Papa’s Mechanical Fish and Boxes for Katje by Candace Fleming, and
    FRAIDYZOO by Thyra Heder

  6. How wonderful! Fun ISBNs! I’m about to put together the cover for my most recent PB, and will ask my publisher if they’re into this idea. I love these kinds of details. Thanks for the great post!

  7. Great examples! Steve Simpson (who does mostly commercial art) has a wonderful blogpost about his very creative bar codes. They’re not for picture books but still really fun: http://stevesimpson.com/17721/1202053/portfolio/illustrated-barcodes

  8. Ahhh! This is brilliant!!

  9. I’m pretty proud of the barcode on “The Shivers in the Fridge.”
    (Could send a photo tomorrow maybe)

    • Travis Jonker says

      Hi Paul – thanks for the tip! We have that in our library, so no need to send a picture – I’ll add it.

  10. Shaun Tan’s, Tales from Outer Suburbia, Canadian edition has the barcode shaped as a postage stamp

  11. What a great list! Thanks!

  12. Brian Wilson says

    On the back cover of Mac Barnett’s Oh No! Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World, illustrator Dan Santat has the barcode in arobot’s speech bubble. Great list!!!

  13. Gina Detate says

    The Adventures of Beekle is another one with a cloud around the barcode… I would not have noticed it if I hadn’t of read this great article before using it in storytime. Now I’ll be checking every book I use. :) Do you need a picture of Beekle?

  14. Fun!
    How about The Red Racer by Audrey Wood? The green monster is smiling with the barcode as his “teeth.”

  15. Tish Dersnah says

    Thanks for the happy start to a Saturday morning. I am now going to make sure I check the back of books, too. So clever. So imaginative.

  16. Eric Carpenter says

    There is a zebra drawn around the barcode on the back of Suzy Becker’s illustrated novel KATE THE GREAT.

  17. London for Children by Matteo Pericoli just came in yesterday and has a gorgeous Big Ben barcode!

  18. Brilliant post, Travis! Thanks for causing us all to look again!