Archive for the trends Category

The Faces of ’10

Posted in book covers, people of color, stock photos, trends on October 4, 2010 by Jacket Whys

Great faces below. It’s fun to see these all together…
This round (there’s more to come- next, the illustrated covers) is the photographed faces of 2010 books that have “African American” as an LOC subject (with 1 exception: Between Sisters takes place in Ghana). They are: Teenie by Christopher Grant (Knopf), Sell-Out by Ebony Joy Wilkins (Scholastic), Between Sisters by Adwoa Badoe (Groundwood), Something Like Hope by Shawn Goodman (Delacorte), Maxine Banks is Getting Married by Lori Aurelia Williams, (Roaring Brook), Good Fortune by Noni Carter (Simon & Schuster), A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes (Zondervan), Sweet, Hereafter by Angela Johnson (Simon & Schuster), Secret Saturdays by Torrey Maldonado (G.P. Putnam’s), Can’t Hold Me Down by Lyah B. LeFlore (Simon Pulse), We Could Be Brothers by Derrick Barnes (Scholastic), Enjoying True Peace by Stephanie Perry Moore (Moody), Split Ends by Jacquelin Thomas (Simon & Schuster), Caught Up in the Drama and Drama Queens by ReShonda Tate Billingsley (Simon & Schuster).
For the most part, books this year that have African American as one of their subjects, have people of color on their jackets. I haven’t really found any whitewashing… Furthermore, only one (I think) of the authors of the books below is white (Something Like Hope). How does this compare to past years? Hard to say. The CCBC has numbers that you can look at – but they don’t break out YA, and I find that there are a lot more picture books with non-white faces on them (probably there are a lot more picture books in general).

So what do you think?

Teenie: High school freshman Martine, longing to escape Brooklyn and her strict parents, is trying to get into a study-abroad program but when her long-time crush begins to pay attention to her and her best friend starts an on-line relationship, Teenie’s mind is on anything but her grades. Age 12+.
Sell-Out: NaTasha loves her life of affluence in Park Adams, but her grandmother fears she has lost touch with her roots and whisks her off to Harlem, where NaTasha meets rough, street-wise girls at a crisis center and finds the courage to hold her own against them. Age 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4.
Between Sisters: Sixteen-year-old Gloria, who lives in poverty in Accra, dreams of becoming a dressmaker but has difficulty with school, and when a distant relative offers to pay for dressmaking school in exchange for Gloria looking after her son in Kumasi, Gloria accepts the offer and finds that life in Kumasi is full of temptations and distractions which she must struggle to overcome. Age 12+. Reviews 1, 2.
Something Like Hope: Shavonne, a fierce, desperate seventeen year-old in juvenile lockup, wants to turn her life around before her eighteenth birthday, but corrupt guards, out-of-control girls, and shadows from her past make her task seem impossible. Age 14+.
Maxine Banks: When seventeen-year-old Maxine’s best friend gets married, Maxine suddenly decides that she and her boyfriend Brian should too, but things do not turn out the way she expected, and both she and Brian realize that they are not as grown up as they thought. Age 14+. Reviews 1.
Good Fortune: Brutally kidnapped from her African village and shipped to America, a young girl struggles to come to terms with her new life as a slave, gradually rising from working in the fields to the master’s house, secretly learning to read and write, until, risking everything, she escapes to seek freedom in the North. Age 12+. Reviews 1, 2. The author talks about the book.
A Girl Named Mister: A pregnant teenager finds support and forgiveness from God through a book of poetry presented from the Virgin Mary’s perspective. Age . Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Book trailer.
Sweet, Hereafter: Sweet leaves her family and goes to live in a cabin in the woods with the quiet but understanding Curtis, to whom she feels intensely connected, just as he is called back to serve again in Iraq. Age 12+. Reviews 1.
Secret Saturdays: Twelve-year-old boys living in a rough part of New York confront questions about what it means to be a friend, a father, and a man. Age 10+. Reviews 1, 2.
Can’t Hold Me Down:  Blue, having lost his successful entertainment production company after one catastrophic night, finds his best friend, who was also his business partner, and his girlfriend turning their backs on him and decides he will fight to get it all back. Age 14+.
We Could Be Brothers: Two eighth-graders from very different backgrounds, Robeson “Crease” Battlefield and Pacino Clapton, discover in afterschool detention that they have a great deal in common. Age 10+. Reviews 12. Book trailer.
Enjoying True Peace: When her father’s decision to move the whole family sends everyone in an uproar, triplet Yasmin continues to depend on God to help her remain calm and find peace in the midst of this new storm. Age 12+
Split Ends: Preferring homelessness to living with her irresponsible mother, teenaged Kylie runs away, takes a job at a hair salon, and learns to trust God.
Caught Up in the Drama: When Camille starts to appear in rap music videos, her close relationship with her friends in the Good Girlz is threatened by her quest for stardom. Age 13+.
Drama Queens: As The Good Girlz anticipate attending Prairie View A&M University in the fall, Alexis’s summer internship is threatened by bad decisions, Jasmine worries her final exam scores will not win her a scholarship, and Angel announces she is moving to Dallas with a new boyfriend. Age 13+.

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Guns Up, Bows & Arrows Down

Posted in book covers, Statistics, trends on August 17, 2010 by Jacket Whys

Check out the Trends in Fantasy Cover Art at Orbit.net. The most common item,  appearing on 60 covers – Swords. Staying strong – Dragons. On the decline – Castles… And make sure to look at part 2 for an assessment of the “changing fashion in urban fantasy.”
Thanks to Bookshelves of Doom for the link.

The Garden of Broken Book Covers

Posted in book covers, older book covers, people of color, trends on August 10, 2010 by Jacket Whys

Constantly on the lookout for how people of color have been represented on book covers over the years, and being in the midst of a weeding (for non-librarians, that means getting rid of old books that nobody takes out anymore) project, I came across this one – Garden of Broken Glass by Emily Cheney Neville (Delacorte 1975). Here is a book which does not include “African American” as a subject (most books that include African American characters seem to). Nothing on the jacket mentions African American characters. Yet here they are in this cover illustration by Jerry Pinkney.

Remember – this is the 70s. It’s my impression that, in that decade, we were far more advanced in representing people of color on books. Even if – as in this one – the subject matter did not focus on color as subject matter (message: regular people come in all colors). In the glitzy 21st century, are we taking giant steps backward?
I fear we are.
Anita Silvey, in Children’s Books and Their Creators (Houghton Mifflin 1995) said this of the book:

Garden of Broken Glass uses shifting viewpoints to examine a group of lower-class multicultureal teenagers. Some readers may find Neville’s use of dialect in the novel to be inauthentic, but it remains a thought-provoking book.

On the positive side, in this century we (or shall I say – publishers) may have gained sensitivity in the way those characters are represented in the text itself?

Garden of Broken Glass: Unable to work out a satisfactory relationship with his brother and sister and cope with their alcoholic mother, a young boy finds solace with neighborhood friends and in his relationship with a stray dog. (What are the Library of Congress subject headings?: Family problems. That’s it. Just family problems.)

Life & Death in YA Lit**

Posted in titles, trends on July 19, 2010 by Jacket Whys

I have been noticing this trend  – this one isn’t about the cover, but about the title. It seemed like the word “dead” was the word of the year in YA lit.
It occurred to me that I could use Wordle to test my theory. I took the titles (minus leading A’s and The’s) of the 401 YA titles* that I’ve looked at this year, copied and pasted them into Wordle – and VOILA! Theory proved!

So then I wondered if this was indicative of the actual content of these books. I used CIP summaries and subjects for all of the same books (minus their titles). And here’s what I got:

Wow. YA lit is really about high school, and dating, friendship, family, and LIFE! Pretty interesting, it seems to me…
You can see my complete list of titles here.

*I counted the book as YA if publishers and/or reviewers considered the book for ages 12+ (or older).
**Based on some comments I read here, I adjusted the words input to Wordle and re-created the above Wordles. In the originals, because of capitalization, some words were repeated. I adjusted them so everything is lower-case. The result is pretty much the same. Contrary to one person’s comment, “
Am I the only one who realizes that this test doesn’t verify that “dead” is the most common word found in book titles, but that the author of this particular blog is personally ATTRACTED to book titles containing the words dead and/or life.  A more accurate study would be to take the titles of ALL YA books published in 2010, not just the ones this particular person has read” - I have included every 2010 YA book that I know about for 2010. Most titles covered in the usual review journals will be on this list. And by the way – it’s the reverse, for me. I am NOT attracted to book titles containing the words dead and/or life!

A Pack of Dogs

Posted in book covers, similar covers, stock photos, trends on July 16, 2010 by Jacket Whys

Recently Carol at Jacket Knack did a post called “A Clowder of Cats.” I’d never heard “clowder” before. But I learned it’s a real word for a group of cats. I could have said a drove of dogs, or a posse of pups, or some cute alliterative title. But alas! a group of dogs is a pack. So here’s a pack of dogs for 2010.
I just love the inquisitive look of the dog on How I, Nicky Flynn, Finally Get a Life (And a Dog) by Art Corriveau (Amulet 2010).  Smells Like Dog by Suzanne Selfors (Little, Brown 2010) is very bassett-y. The Fast and the Furriest by Andy Behrens (Knopf 2010) reminds me of the beloved family beagle I grew up with. And Molly Moon & the Morphing Mystery by Georgia Byng (HarperCollins 2010) – well though she’s a cartoon, she fits right in here.

All of these covers use type playfully. Backgrounds are simple  and work well. I usually don’t like masked out photographs plunked down on bright backgrounds that have nothing to do with the light conditions in the photograph. But these work!
And it’s interesting that they all use wide-angle photos that emphasize the nose-y part of the dog. Even the illustration. Fun!

How I, Nicky Flynn: Moving to inner-city Boston after his parents’ divorce, eleven-year-old Nicky struggles to cope with the changes in his life, including acquiring a former guide dog that leads to a mystery for Nicky to solve. Ages 9-13. Reviews 1, 2, 3.
Smells Like Dog: When farm boy Homer Pudding’s explorer-uncle dies and leaves him a droopy dog with a mysterious coin hidden on its collar, it leads him to The City, where they meet Madame La Directeur, the conniving head of the Natural History Museum, who is trying to steal the coin and take Homer’s place in a secret society of adventurers. Ages 8-12. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Fast and the Furriest: The overweight and unathletic son of a famous former football star discovers that his equally fat and lazy dog is unexpectedly–and obsessively–interested in competing in dog agility contests. Ages 8-12. Reviews 1.
Molly Moon: Having acquired the skill of morphing, Molly Moon can inhabit any creature she wants but, unless she can find the ancient book of hypnotism in time, she risks never getting back into her own body. Ages 8-12. Reviews 1.

Here Baby, There Mama, Everywhere…

Posted in book covers, stock photos, symbols, trends on July 10, 2010 by Jacket Whys

Daddy, Daddy there’s HAIR!

This is just a few examples of this year’s penchant for flying hair and hair that obscures faces. On The Girl With the Mermaid Hair by Delia Ephron (Balzer + Bray 2010), Blindsided by Priscilla Cummings (Dutton 2010), Keep Sweet by Michele Dominguez Greene (Simon Pulse 2010) and Raven Speak by Diane Lee Wilson (McElderry 2010) hair goes horizontal – usually something hair only does in wind. The raised up mermaid hair looks to be the result of spinning (look at where the hair on the other side goes). Blindsided could be wind… But the other two are not. Raven Speak holds a mishmash of things (an eye peeking through hair, a sword, a bird and a horse), put together in a way that is interesting enough, and slightly challenging in that you might not notice it right away.

So what does flying hair say? Without reading summaries… the spinning girl could indicate someone thrown off balance? On Blindsided the title and the Braille give pretty strong clues. But why does her hair obscure an eye, and show an eye that is most definitely looking at something?
Keep Sweet has the most unnatural arrangement. Why would one’s hair be wrapped around her face? On Raven Speak… she’s holding her braid over her nose?
Other notable examples for this year: Birth Marked by Caragh M. O’Brien, The Vinyl Princess by Yvonne Prinz, and Spyglass by Maria V. Snyder (the British cover doesn’t have the hair). Coming out in the fall, one with not so much the flying hair, but with hair covering parts of the face: The Frenzy by Francesca Lia Block. The first one like this that I saw was last year’s Breathless by Jessica Warman (Walker), but it stands alone in that year as far as I can tell.

UPDATE: See another post, with more hair at Stacked – Oh, Your Windswept Hair!

Girl With the Mermaid Hair: A vain teenaged girl is obsessed with beauty and perfection until she uncovers a devastating family secret. Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Blindsided: After years of failing eyesight, fourteen-year-old Natalie reluctantly enters a school for the blind, where in spite of her initial resistance she learns the skills that will help her survive in the sighted world. Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2.
Keep Sweet: Alva, not quite fifteen, is content with the strict rules that define her life in Pineridge, the walled community where she lives with her father, his seven wives, and her twenty-nine siblings until she is caught giving her long-time crush an innocent first kiss and forced to marry a violent, fifty-year-old man. Ages 14+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Raven Speak: In 854, the bold fourteen-year-old daughter of a Viking chieftain, aided by her old and thin but equally intrepid horse and an ancient, one-eyed seer, must find a way to keep her clan together and save them from starvation. Ages 10-14.

Ingenuity – NOT!

Posted in book covers, girls, stock photos, trends with tags on June 13, 2010 by Jacket Whys

So along the line of getting face covers off of YA novels…
I was sitting in my office last week and I looked up at our new YA novel display (new to us, not new in the sense of just-released) and this is what I saw:

I’m trying to imagine myself as a teen (okay, so that was a really long time ago) – a teen in the culture of today (not the ’70s…). How excited could I get about this batch? Some half-faces, some full-on faces, some fancy clothes. And gosh… I just don’t get it. Why does this work? What happened to standing out from a crowd?
It has always baffled me why it works (it must!) to attract young girls with beautiful girls in beautiful clothes. Weren’t we just talking about wanting to see ourselves, our culture, reflected in our literature? Even if you’re white, does this reflect you?

psssssssssst….. by the way, I love the cover of Hazel despite everything I’ve said, but I’ll never tell >;-)

Whitewashing Article

Posted in book covers, controversy, people of color, stock photos, symbols, trends on June 12, 2010 by Jacket Whys

Tanita Davis, author of Mare’s War has a great article, “Reflected Faces“, up on Hunger Mountain: the VCFA Journal of the Arts. In it she says:

It still seems as if young people with brown skin are acceptable to ignore, at least in the marketing departments where the Powers That Be have determined that Brown doesn’t equal Buy… This may seem unimportant—at least young adults of color are included in contemporary YA literature. They’re IN the books, and so if the nonwhite characters don’t make it to the cover as often, at least there are nonwhite characters, right? Shouldn’t that be sufficient when Caucasians comprise two thirds of the American population?

I’m working on a post comparing POC coverage ten or twenty years ago, with today. It’s lots of background work, so stay tuned – it’ll be up sometime!

Oh, and here’s the other article in a section they’re calling “Flipside“, “Teens Do Judge a Book by the Cover” by Mitali Perkins (in the same issue of the same journal). She says:

Get most faces OFF the covers of young adult novels.

Hear, hear! (and see my next post)

Skin

Posted in book covers, stock photos, trends on May 23, 2010 by Jacket Whys

Many have commented on the “face cover.” Recently I’ve noticed some covers where one face is just not enough. Two faces – or more precisely, parts of two faces – are squeezed into the confines of a book jacket. It means that the two faces must be very close together. Most here seem to be moments of intimacy – Kiss Me Kill Me by Lauren Henderson (Delacorte 2008), Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols (MTV Books 2009), Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala (HarperTeen 2010), Heartbreak River (2009) and Winter Longing (2010) by Tricia Mills (Razorbill).
In my circles of friends and family, we’ve had several discussions about the kinds of photos that teens like to post on their Facebook pages. They are often like the pictures I see here – particularly on My Invented Life by Lauren Bjorkman (Henry Holt 2009). There is a physical closeness in photos that people of this generation are snapping, that people of my generation might have felt uncomfortable with.
So I wonder how these book covers fare with their target audience. I’m guessing they work well with the teen female audience.

Faces

Kiss Me Kill Me: Longing to be part of the in-crowd at her exclusive London school, orphaned, sixteen-year-old Scarlett, a trained gymnast, eagerly accepts an invitation to a party whose disastrous outcome changes her life forever. Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Going Too Far: Forced to spend spring break in a Birmingham, Alabama, suburb riding along with an attractive rookie police officer on the night shift, rebellious seventeen-year-old Meg finds herself falling unexpectedly in love. Ages 12+. Reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Tell Me a Secret: Seventeen-year-old Rand’s unexpected pregnancy leads her on a path to unravel the mystery of her sister’s death and face her own more hopeful future. Ages 14+. Reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4.
My Invented Life: During rehearsals for Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” sixteen-year-old Roz, jealous of her cheerleader sister’s acting skills and heartthrob boyfriend, invents a new identity, with unexpected results. Ages 14+. Reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Heartbreak River: When her father dies while whitewater rafting, sixteen-year-old Alex feels responsible, but when tragedy strikes again she must face her deepest fears in order to reclaim her love of the Colorado river where she grew up–and of the boy she grew up with. Ages 14+. Reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Winter Longing: Tundra, Alaska, high school senior Winter learns about love, loss, and starting over when her boyfriend, who has been her best friend since second grade, is killed in a plane crash the day after they declared their love for each other. Ages 14+. Reviews: 1, 2.

Before Monarchs, Blue Morphos

Posted in book covers, color, symbols, trends on April 23, 2010 by Jacket Whys

Travis at 100 Scope Notes has posted new covers with monarch butterflies on them. Before the monarchs, there was a spate of book covers depicting the Blue Morpho (or some other kind of blue) butterfly. With photo manipulation, who can tell for sure these days. Maybe these are just monarchs colored blue. But they’re pretty stunning! The books: The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson (Henry Holt 2008), Fate by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Delacorte 2008), Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr (Bowen Press 2009), The Secret Rites of Social Butterflies by Lizabeth Zindel (Viking 2008), Philippa Fisher and the Dream-Maker’s Daughter by Liz Kessler (Candlewick 2009) and Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu (Houghton Mifflin 2008, c2005). Just as you would expect, books with butterflies on them tend to be fantasy. They include fairies and magic, etc., though Jenna Fox is science fiction, so it’s not a perfect rule.
I went looking for online information about blue butterflies and was distressed to find that most of what’s out there on the internet is about blue butterflies made into jewelry, preserved as wall art, and even a song called “Blue Morpho” played on a panflute that looks like it has blue morpho wings pasted on it? :-( Me, I’d rather see this beautiful creature alive!

Adoration of Jenna: In the not-too-distant future, when biotechnological advances have made synthetic bodies and brains possible but illegal, a seventeen-year-old girl, recovering from a serious accident and suffering from memory lapses, learns a startling secret about her existence. Ages 14+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Fate: High school senior Bailey Morgan must chose between the mortal world and the otherworldly Nexus, where each night, as the third Fate, she weaves the web of life. Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Fragile Eternity: Aislinn and Seth struggle with the unforeseen consequences of Aislinn’s transformation from mortal girl to faery queen as the world teeters on the brink of cataclysmic violence. Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Secret Rites: Sixteen-year-old Maggie’s fears about making friends as an incoming senior at an exclusive New York City girls school are allayed when she is invited to join an elite secret society devoted to eavesdropping and recording the “truth” about students and faculty. Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Philippa Fisher: Twelve-year-old Philippa gets caught up in unraveling the mystery of a dream-catcher that threatens the life of her fairy friend Daisy and the happiness of her human friend Robyn, who is grieving over her mother’s death. Ages 8-12. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Zahrah the Windseeker: Zahrah, a timid thirteen-year-old girl, undertakes a dangerous quest into the Forbidden Greeny Jungle to seek the antidote for her best friend after he is bitten by a snake, and finds knowledge, courage, and hidden powers along the way. Ages 10+. Reviews 1, 2, 3.

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