Swirls & Light
There is an ever-growing trend toward the exclusive use of photoshopped images on kids’ book covers. So I’ve been looking at the dwindling crop of illustrated book jackets.
These four: Dragon’s Egg by Sarah Thomson (Greenwillow 2007), The Treasures of Weatherby by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (Atheneum 2007), Iris, Messenger by Sarah Deming (Harcourt 2007) and Grimoire: Tracked by Terror by Brad Strickland (Dial 2007) all have a swirl of movement around a central light.
The advantage you have with an illustration, is that all of this can be planned in at the start, and manipulated to make the images to do exactly what the designer wants them to do. The dragon curls it’s body around a perfectly egg shaped window into a lighted room. The castle curves toward the sky to help carry the movement up. Objects blur past the winged feet, indicating swift movement. And while the inner-lit red book against a green background is the focus, so are we drawn to the boy’s face by the circle of blue-green light that just happens to surround his head like a halo.
Will we see the end of illustrated book covers for children? How much cheaper is it, in the end, to use stock photography? And are these kinds of covers only effective with younger kids?
Dragon’s Egg: Mella, a young girl trained as a dragon keeper, learns that the legends of old are true when she is entrusted with carrying a dragon’s egg to the fabled Hatching Grounds, a dangerous journey on which she is assisted by a knight’s squire. (Ages 8-12) Jacket art by John Rocco [also the illustrator for the Percy Jackson series]. Jacket design by Victoria Jamieson.
Treasures of Weatherby: Determined to be as strong and powerful as the first Harleigh, who built the rambling Weatherby Hall, twelve-year-old Harleigh Fourth and an equally diminutive new friend try to foil the plans of a distant relative who is seeking the long-lost Weatherby fortune. (Ages 8-12)
Iris, Messenger: After discovering that the immortals of Greek mythology reside in her hometown of Middleville, Pennsylvania, twelve-year-old Iris listens to their life stories, gaining wisdom, beauty, and startling revelations about her past. (Ages 10+)
Grimoire: Jarvey, a twelve-year-old British boy, becomes lost again within the pages of the Grimoire, a powerful book of spells, where he must navigate complex worlds and battle new and more evil Midions. (Ages 9-12)