Scarlett and the Velour Wallpaper

I remember thinking “yuck, chicklit” when I first saw the cover of  Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson (Point 2008). Nothing against people who like it, but it doesn’t draw me in unless there’s so much buzz about the book that I need to be in the know.
By now, my readers know that I’m not a big fan of girl (or woman as the case may be) photos on book covers unless it’s done exceptionally well.
I’ve been working on purchasing 2008 books for our extensive YA paperback collection, and found the paperback cover for Suite Scarlett. This, while not too far up in the “wow”-factor scale, is one I might pick up. So what makes it more interesting to me?
Things I like: The wallpaper background gives the impression of an upscale room. The darker red looks like velour, and I can imagine what it feels like. The setting-clue intrigues me.
It has the simplicity of the one centralized object which people tend to like (or at least I surmised that in this post). I agree with my web-designer son, simplicity is everything (almost).
The idea of a city-scape on a key is great. It’s probably been done before, but it’s novel to me. I don’t like the line of keys at the bottom (overkill), but it’s minimal, so it doesn’t take too much away.
Though I haven’t seen the spine, I’m guessing it’s red, so it may stand out on the shelf (if it’s not in a sea of other red books).

2008 - Johnson - Suite Scarlett2008 - Johnson - Suite Scarlett pbk

I love background stories for book covers, and on her blog, Maureen Johnson gives some backstory in response to someone who expressed dislike of the hardcover cover:

MJ, I’m sorry, but that cover is AWFUL. The girl looks like she ducked her head in peroxide and proceeded attempt to put her hair in curls.

Johnson responds:

While people might have varying opinions on the model and pose, a lot of work went into getting the basic facts straight. Scarlett is blonde, has curly hair of exactly the length described, and both that black dress and red lipstick play a part in the story. It may not look exactly as it does in my head, or how it might in yours . . . but it’s RIGHT!

She adds cover commentary:

Obviously, I want a nice cover, but the truth is . . . the cover has very little to do with what’s inside. In fact, it has nothing to do with what’s inside. I get annoyed by some covers too. Honestly, I just take them off. Feel free to replace them with the cover of another book. Or, even better, feel free to make your own!

I agree with her – many covers have absolutely nothing to do with what’s inside. STILL they are probably the absolute BEST advertisement for the book (second only to word-of-mouth buzz?). So that moves them pretty high in the chain of success for a book.
I’m guessing some teens loved the blonde working the hotel desk in her slip. But I’ll put my money on the paperback. I might even read it.

This leads me to one of the posts I’ll be working on. Books with awful covers that, apparently, killed the book’s chances. Books that never made it to paperback (yet).

Suite Scarlett: Fifteen-year-old Scarlett Marvin is stuck in New York City for the summer working at her quirky family’s historic hotel, but her out-of-work actor brother’s attractive new friend and a seasonal guest who offers her an intriguing and challenging writing project improve her outlook. Ages 12+. Reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

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2 Responses to “Scarlett and the Velour Wallpaper”

  1. My suggestion for the post you’re working on is Kimchi and Calamari by Rose Kent.

  2. My students will not believe me that the velour wallpaper cover is the sequel. It does really help to have the covers be similar– I’ve even had students say they would rather wait for another copy than to check out the original Lightning Thief. Covers are very important to YA readers. This is why I no longer have any books with Cuffari covers– I loved them, but they were the kiss of death!

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