Archive for January, 2008

Roses are…

Posted in book covers on January 25, 2008 by Jacket Whys

A single rose appears on each of these four covers – with varying results.
The best one is Alex Flinn’s Beastly (HarperTeen 2007). Another black, white and red cover – well done. The white rose has an interesting and more realistic shape – and the type treatment is very effectively a simple all cap font with thorns. Good chance this cover will draw readers to this novelized retelling of Beauty and the Beast.
The Silenced by James DeVita (Eos 2007) on the other hand, looks like an old fashioned paperback from the 70s or 80s. It just seems faded. The rose shape is nearly a perfect circle. Looking at the summary – it probably fits. I think it could have been done well, but it needed something different. Different font, different colors – something.

Beastly Silenced

On this book, Carrie Jones’ second book with duct tape on the cover, Love (And Other Uses for Duct Tape) (Flux 2008 ) the duct tape rose is smart. I think teens will pick this up both because of the fun title, and the amusing cover.
Prom Nights from Hell by Meg Cabot, Michele Jaffe, Lauren Myracle, Kim Harrison & Stephenie Meyer (HarperTeen 2007) has the only rose photo, and it’s a pretty one. That contrasts with what is obviously, from the title, a book of prom horrors. Because the authors are names that will draw readers, their five names are large. It detracts from this cover, which would be more interesting if the authors names were more subtle. But ah, they do what they think sells books…

Love (And Prom Nights

I was surprised to find this many titles for teens with just a rose and text. Three of them are from Harper. There were a handful of other books in 2007 with flowers (not roses). They were prettier, pinker, and more girly than these four. I think of roses as a flower that women like to get. Interesting that they aren’t used in a very feminine context on these book jackets.

Beastly: A modern retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” from the point of view of the Beast, a vain Manhattan private school student who is turned into a monster and must find true love before he can return to his human form. Jacket art by The Heads of State. Jacket design by Sasha Illingworth.
The Silenced: Consigned to a prison-like Youth Training Facility because of her parents’ political activities, Marena organizes a resistance movement to combat the restrictive policies of the ruling Zero Tolerance party.
Love: When Belle, now a high school senior, faces the possibility of finally sleeping with Tom, her duct-tape sculpting boyfriend, her best friend Em’s unplanned pregnancy, and her mother’s blooming romance, the stress causes her seizures to return.
Prom Nights From Hell: Jacket design by Amy Ryan. Rose photo by joSon/Getty Images.

Red & Black & White = Crime/Murder

Posted in book covers with tags , , on January 19, 2008 by Jacket Whys

Take the same three colors, emphasize the red instead of the black, and instead of the horror genre, you get stories of crime and death (ok – a different kind of horror). The zeros and ones embossed (I think) on the jacket of Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks (Harcourt 2007, c2005 and see the British cover) hint at the computer hacking of the book summary. The lightning bolt is effective, but I wonder why a lightning bolt? Guns and catsup make sense for a book that features a robbery in a hamburger joint. The title text of Holdup by Terry Fields (Roaring Brook 2007) grabs your attention, both with it’s size and orientation. I didn’t notice the burst of deeper red emmanating from the gun until I started writing this. I like how the author’s name is shot from the gun. Pretty Little Devils by Nancy Holder (Razorbill 2006) and Remembering Raquel by Vivian Vande Velde (Harcourt 2007) include murders. Remembering Raquel is probably a stretch for this category (accidental death by motor vehicle). And the paperback of Pretty Little Devils is pink – which completely alters the mood.

Evil Genius Holdup

Pretty Little Devils Remembering Raquel

In an article in Publishing Trends, “Cursive on the Cover Spells Romance,” it mentions purple as a trendy color for romance (in books for adults). I will be looking for purple covers – but I can’t think of any. I wonder why not red for romance? And is red an often used color for crime and murder for adults as well as for teens?

Evil Genius: Child prodigy Cadel Piggot, an antisocial computer hacker, discovers his true identity when he enrolls as a first-year student at an advanced crime academy. (Age 12+) Jacket design by Kelly Eismann.
Holdup: Diverse teens each react differently to a busy shift at a Phoenix, Arizona, Burger Haven on a hectic Saturday night that culminates in a show-down with two armed robbers. (Age 12+)
Pretty Little Devils: Life seems rosy for the Pretty Little Devils, the most popular girls’ clique in high school, until its members begin to experience threats and assaults. (Age 12+) Jacket art and design by Jason Ralls.
Remembering Raquel: Various people recall aspects of the life of Raquel Falcone, an unpopular, overweight freshman at Quail Run High School, including classmates, her parents, and the driver who struck and killed her as she was walking home from an animated film festival. (Age 12+)

Black & White & Red = Horror

Posted in book covers with tags , , on January 13, 2008 by Jacket Whys

The archetypal color scheme for the horror genre is black and white – with red accents. The first two of the jackets here (all 2007), 666 : The Number of the Beast (Scholastic) and My Swordhand is Singing by Marcus Sedgewick (Wendy Lamb/Random House) are scary, but intriguing and very well done. 666 is a book of short stories. This composite of man and wolf is bound to attract an audience. The faint red accent around the title text is a nice touch. The black on My Swordhand is Singing is not just flat black, but a kind of tea-stained black. And those red spots could be blood? The red accent in the eye looks like fear… (Update: Here’s the British cover of My Swordhand is Singing)

666 My Swordhand

Epoch by Timothy Carter (Flux 2007) uses more red and is even more frightening, I think. If I was a reader of horror stories, this very scary looking demon would draw me in. It reminds me of a creature from a Hieronymus Bosch painting. Or a Gremlin.


No whys here. I like all these jackets – and they are different enough to distinguish themselves.

666: Eighteen winners of the Bram Stoker award contribute tales of evil, darkness, and beasts.
My Swordhand is Singing: In the dangerous dark of winter in an Eastern European village during the early seventeenth century, Peter learns from a gypsy girl that the Shadow Queen is behind the recent murders and reanimations, and his father’s secret past may hold the key to stopping her. (Age 12+)
Epoch: As the end of the world approaches, fourteen-year-old Vincent breaks away from his parents’ religion and forms an odd alliance with a few other humans who have the ability to see the elves, pixies, and demons that are engaged in a battle to bring about a new epoch.

Strange Croppings

Posted in book covers with tags , , on January 9, 2008 by Jacket Whys

I’ve heard people refer to the trend of using “body parts” or cropped faces. It is certainly one of the most popular techniques designers are using on book covers today. But I find the books shown below to be especially puzzling in the choices designers have made about where/how to frame their photos.
On My Mother the Cheerleader by Robert Sharenow (Laura Geringer Books 2007) the face has been cut just before any hint of the eye shows. Somehow this seems stranger than if it had been cut closer to the ear. It is almost a tease – pulls the eye so strongly to where that face should be – and then it’s not there.
On Runt by V. M. Caldwell (Milkweed Editions 2006), all we get is the top of the head, effective in inferring that the character here is short.

My Mother Runt

You may not realize in your first glance at this reprint of John Rowe Townsends’ The Islanders (Front Street 2006, first published by Lippincott 1981), that you’re looking at a close up of the neck and shoulder of a man. The color of the skin is the same as the color of the rocks in the background. This confuses me. I’m not sure what the message is. I would probably pick up this book because the cover needs explanation. I wonder if that works the same way with the intended audience.
And lastly, Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006). This stops me every time I see it, and it happens to be shelved where I can see it from my office (no one has checked it out yet). It’s the only one here with an eye left inside the croplines. It’s unusual because it’s more triangular than the common half-face – there’s a bit of a tilt of the head. But what is really weird is that tiny bit of the corner of the mouth. It seems like an accident – like somehow in the printing process too much got left in… or too much got cut off. I’d love to hear the designer’s rationale for this.

Islanders Dreamhunter

I’d like to be able to see the past – the bulk of the children and teen book jackets from ten years ago. How often were these techniques used then? What will be the future? The big trend ten years from now?

My Mother the Cheerleader: Thirteen-year-old Louise uncovers secrets about her family and her neighborhood during the violent protests over school desegregation in 1960 New Orleans. (Age 12+)
Runt: Although he tries to make a home with his older sister and her boyfriend after his mother’s death, twelve-year-old Runt feels like an outsider until a young cancer patient and his family show him how life can become more meaningful. (Age 8-12)
Islanders: The isolated residents of Halcyon Island, resistant of all newcomers, have always governed by the Teaching in the Book which has been orally passed down for generations, but one day they find out, from one who reads, the real and astonishing story in the book. (Age 12+)
Dreamhunter: In a world where select people can enter “The Place” and find dreams of every kind to share with others for a fee, a fifteen-year-old girl is training to be a dreamhunter when her father disappears, leaving her to carry on his mysterious mission. (Age 12+)

Double Dip Redux

Posted in book covers, stock photos on January 7, 2008 by Jacket Whys

Here’s another instance of the use of the same photo on different book jackets from different publishers. On Pretty Things by Sarra Manning (Dutton 2005), the pair of feet on the left have painted nails and a ring on the second toe of the right foot, and the other pair of feet is male (hairy legs). On Life as it Comes by Anne-Laure Bondoux (Delacorte 2007), the ring and paint are on the right pair and the hair is airbrushed out (or airbrushed in on the other book). Both pairs of feet are female. The type treatment is similar in orientation – though much more subtle in the Bondoux book. What is most surprising is that the photo cropping and orientation are almost identitcal.
It is not obvious to me, from the cover photo of Pretty Things, that the book deals heavily with issues of sexuality (gay vs. straight). I wonder if those who pick it based on what they assume from the jacket advertisement will feel that they got what they expected.
The sisters whose feet we see on Life as it Comes, are opposites. Is that is what the designer is trying to show with the colored nail polish and ring vs. plain feet?
Both of these sets of feet are set against very plain backgrounds…

Pretty Things Life As It

as opposed to these other pairs of feet. On Becoming Chloe by Catherine Ryan Hyde (Knopf 2006) and The Queen of Cool by Cecil Castellucci (Candlewick) the feet are set against backgrounds that add information. Where are the feet in Becoming Chloe going? (And will it surprise you that there is a “gang rape on the first page”? Booklist). The background of The Queen of Cool hints at the main character’s work at a zoo (but a pink leopard?). The significance of showing just her feet?

Becoming Chloe Queen of Cool

And then there are feet in fancy socks. It’s surprising to know that the story in A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban (Harcourt 2007) concerns music (the main character learning to play a “Perfectone D-60 organ”) and agoraphobia (her father has it). What do striped socks with pink toes have to do with it?
Candyfloss is the British word for cotton candy – which is usually pink. So the pinkness of the socks on Candyfloss by Jacqueline Wilson (Roaring Brook 2007 – see the very different British cover) makes sense. Not sure about the polka dots on the socks or the big polka dots on the dress…
Something to think about: The books with socks? For ages 8-12. Bare feet? They’re for age 14 and up.

Crooked Kind Candyfloss

Life as it Comes: After their parents are killed in a car accident, sisters Mado, fifteen, and Patty, twenty, try to cope, but when the irresponsible and impulsive Patty gets pregnant and expects Mado to take charge of everything, life becomes increasingly difficult. Jacket design by ??. Cover photo by Terry Husebye/Getty Images.
Pretty Things: While rehearsing for a production of “The Taming of the Shrew,” four English teenagers explore their relationships and sexuality, while also discovering some surprising truths about themselves. Jacket design by Linda McCarthy. Cover photo by Terry Husebye/Getty Images.
Becoming Chloe: A gay teenage boy and a fragile teenage girl meet while living on the streets of New York City and eventually decide to take a road trip across America to discover whether or not the world is a beautiful place.
Queen of Cool: Bored with her life, popular high school junior Libby signs up for an internship at the zoo and discovers that the “science nerds” she meets there may have a few things to teach her about friendship and life.
Crooked Kind of Perfect: Ten-year-old Zoe Elias, who longs to play the piano but must resign herself to learning the organ, instead, finds that her musicianship has a positive impact on her workaholic mother, her jittery father, and her school social life.
Candyfloss: When her mother plans to move to Australia with her new husband and baby, Floss must decide whether her loyalties lie with her mother or her father, while at the same time, her best friend begins to make fun of her and reject her. Jacket photo at Getty Images.

It’s a Sign

Posted in book covers on January 4, 2008 by Jacket Whys

Signs were popular on YA book covers this year. While Caroline Cooney’s Hit the Road (Delacorte) seems to have been the only cover with road signs on it in 2006, four 2007 titles – Going Nowhere Faster by Sean Beaudoin (Little, Brown), Not Like You by Deborah Davis ( Clarion), Do Not Pass Go by Kirkpatrick Hill (Margaret K. McElderry) and by Sofi Mendoza’s Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico by Malin Alegria (Simon & Schuster) – used road signs to attract kids. Three of them have directional arrows and two of them have arrows pointing in two directions – away from each other. A hint that the characters in these books have to go the wrong way before they find the right direction?

Going Nowhere Not Like You

Do Not Pass Sofi Mendoza

Will we see more in 2008 or has it been done enough for now? These books are written for kids who are pushing driving age, and probably all things road and car are on their minds. Is there some subtle thing about seeing road signs on books that may make them pick up these books?

Going Nowhere Faster: Although his past accomplishments have convinced everyone else he is headed for college and greatness, seventeen-year-old Stan just wants to work at Happy Video, live in his parents’ basement, write a movie script–and convince someone there really is a madman after him. (Age 14+)
Not Like You: When she and her mother move once again in order to make a new start, fifteen-year-old Kayla is hopeful that her mother will be able to stop drinking and begin a better life, as she has been promising for years. (Age 13+)
Do Not Pass Go: When Deet’s father is jailed for using drugs, Deet learns that prison is not what he expected, nor are other people necessarily the way he thought they were. (Ages 9-14)
Sofi Mendoza’s Guide: When Southern California high school senior Sofi Mendoza lies to her parents and crosses the border for a weekend party, she has no idea that she will get stuck in a Mexican village with family she has never met before, unable to return to the United States and the easy life she knew. (Age 12+) Photo by Whit Preston/Getty Images. Jacket design by Einav Aviram.

Double Dipping?

Posted in book covers, double dips, stock photos on January 3, 2008 by Jacket Whys

These two covers are so similar, I am guessing the photos were taken at the same shoot. The young woman on Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci (Candlewick 2005) and the young woman on The Declaration by Gemma Malley (Bloomsbury 2007) look like the same person.

Boy Proof Declaration

The paperback cover for Boy Proof has a more interesting type treatment, but uses the same photo (it seems to be clearer, but that may be the cover scan). The British cover for The Declaration is completely different and gives a different sense of what the book might contain.

Boy Proof B Declaration B

I haven’t actually seen anything written about it, but I’ve noticed a huge increase over the last ten years in the numbers of book covers for children and teens using photography rather than illustration. With designers using stock photos more than ever before, it surprises me a little that we don’t see more book covers using the same photos or the photos from the same shoot. Do stock photo companies keep some kind of registry of who is using the photos that is available to designers? How much does price affect the choice to use photos over illustrations?

Boy Proof: Feeling alienated from everyone around her, Los Angeles high school senior and cinephile Victoria Jurgen hides behind the identity of a favorite movie character until an interesting new boy arrives at school and helps her realize that there is more to life than just the movies. (Age 14+)
The Declaration: In 2140 England, where drugs enable people to live forever and children are illegal, teenaged Anna, an obedient “Surplus” training to become a house servant, discovers that her birth parents are trying to find her. (Age 9-12) Jacket design by Donna Mark.