A Charlie Brown Christmystery

AAUGH Blog reader Natalie contacted me the other day, because she had a question about book adaptations of A Charlie Brown Christmas, and for obvious reasons, I was on the top 12 people on her list to answer it. (And besides, really, the question was to some extend about my guide to those books.)

Y’see, ordering a book for a relative, she went to Amazon and thought she was ordering this 2010 Hallmark book from a third-party seller:

…but then she realized that the picture on the Amazon listing actually looked like this:

Don’t look to close at the red circle, those are just stickers, can easily vary… but look at the sound buttons on the right. Completely different! She looked through the guide trying to find this version of the book, and didn’t find it, so she contacted me.

What was this thing? Was it an edition that I didn’t know about? She wanted to know… and so did I, of course. I would hate to have missed an edition. So I did the research. I found the Amazon listing for it, which is titled Hallmark Promotions LPR7506 A Charlie Brown Christmas (An Interactive Book with Sound). That LPR7506… that number’s on the back of the 2010 edition. So at that, it seemed to be probably the same book. But what about the picture?

That picture… I looked carefully at it. The shadow that goes down and to the right from the book? That’s not a real shadow. If that book was down against the background with light coming from the upper left, the shadow would go all the way to the lower left corner of the book. Now, the book could have something behind it holding it above the table… but better odds are that this was a Photoshop job. That sort of “drop shadow” is just two clicks away in Photoshop.

Then look at the texture of the photo. Its like there’s a series of dotted lines over it. This isn’t a direct photo of an image, this is a scan of a printed picture; printed pictures in this digital age are made up of small dots.

So my suspicion was: this is a catalog picture.

Pictures for catalogs are often put together well before the final product is produced, and changes often take place between the catalog release and the final production. This is what the Hallmark retailers would’ve been shown was coming their way, and it’s pretty close to what the final book would be, but it’s still a mockup. And in this case, the changes would make sense; not only did changing the button design add more Peanutsyneess to it, but using different colored christmas lights to identify four of the buttons might make things confusing for some color blind folks.

Of course, there was only one way to know for sure. Natalie contacted the relative, found out what the buttons looked like on the book that was actually shipped. It was just like the book in my guide.

And thus another successful case is closed by CBC: Special Volumes Unit…

Folks have always gotten Peanuts wrong

Occasionally, I flinch hard at some error I see in writing about Peanuts. It’s always tempting to think “people have gotten real sloppy about such things.” Well, I was just doing some research about Happiness is a Warm Puppy, and I ran into this piece of writing from an issue …

Out of the evacuation zone

Breath easy (although if you’re around here, not too deeply.) The evacuation zone has been pulled back, the Schulz Museum is now outside of it. As for the AAUGH offices… well, we’re much closer to fires than we were this time yesterday. The Reagan Library is about 10 miles away. …

Fire update

People have been asking me to keep them updated on the fire in Santa Rosa. I can’t promise to keep this up constantly, but here’s the map at the moment. The fires have definitely been heading toward the museum and surrounding buildings, and are at this point about 4 miles …