Author and illustrator Don Freeman wanted to write a picture book about a character who explores a department store at night. His goal was to create a story that juxtaposed the luxury of department stores with the relatively modest lives of their patrons. How did he settle on a stuffed bear as the hero of such a tale? “I don’t remember how or when a toy bear came into my life,” wrote Don to editor Linda Zuckerman, "but he must have come from way out of my past. You know, I could just see a bear wearing corduroy overalls with one button missing … the minute I settled on Corduroy and Lisa, everything came together.” He chose the name “Corduroy” for his cuddly main character because it was once his nickname for his son, Roy.
Though Corduroy is inarguably a classic picture book now, it almost never found its way into print. Initially, Corduroy wasn’t chosen to be published by Viking Press because they only published a small number of books each year. Don Freeman continued to remind the editors at Viking Press about this plucky little bear until, eventually, they decided to publish him. Don wrote the first draft in 1967, and the first copies graced bookstore shelves in 1968. Don ’s sequel, A Pocket For Corduroy, was published in 1978, but sadly Don passed away before he could see it in print. For more on the history of Corduroy, see Roy Freeman’s blog post, The Story Behind Corduroy.