Archive for February, 2008

Little Font Big Impact

Posted in book covers on February 20, 2008 by Jacket Whys

I’m not a big fan of book jackets where the author’s name is the most prominent feature. I am accustomed to having the title be pretty out there. However, I’ve noticed an increasing number of covers where text of any kind is tiny, or hidden, or even missing altogether. This batch of four (I can’t explain why I like to see them in blocks like this, but it’s fun choosing my four) all have simple single close-up photographic images with well-placed, relatively tiny, very subtle author and title text. Seventeen by Per Nilsson (Front Street 2007) and Gone by Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson (Roaring Brook 2007) both have monochromatic close-up photo images as background. Interestingly, both Circle the Truth by Pat Schmatz (Carolrhoda 2007) and Lessons from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles (Candlewick 2007) have angular interiors as backdrops, one leading us in, and one with an off-kilter cropping that adds a foreboding atmosphere to an ominous title.

Seventeen Gone

Circle the Truth Lessons from the Dead

I am wondering if this is just a fad of 2007. I’ve looked at a lot of jackets for books that will be released this year, and there seems to be more of a trend to the fancy and overcrowded. Admittedly, this spare style seems more like books from the adult market. There has been, overall, a marked leaning toward more adult design for teens. I wonder if that comes from any marketing research (probably not) or maybe it’s just that teen lit is gaining and being treated with more respect?

Seventeen: While Jonatan lies comatose in the emergency room, his father tells him stories of his meeting with Jonatan’s mother, their life as a family, and the events that caused them to be separated for more than a decade. (Ages 12+)
Gone: Connor, not quite eighteen, has a crush on his teacher–and it may be reciprocated. (Ages 14+)
Circle the Truth: Eighth-grader Orithian “Rith” Haley discovers another world via the staircase in his house and begins to explore questions about God and about the father he never knew. (Ages 12+)
Lessons from a Dead Girl: After her former friend Leah dies in an automobile accident, Laine remembers their troubled relationship, dating back to elementary school when Leah convinced Laine to “practice” in the closet with her, and Leah controlled her every thought. (Ages 14+)

Hearts for the Day

Posted in book covers on February 15, 2008 by Jacket Whys

For Valentine’s Day – pink and red books due for release after Valentine’s Day. Hearts on all, but a mix of love and love endings. Love in the Corner Pocket by Marlene Perez (Point April 2008) with its pink pool table and Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty by Jody Gehrman (Dial April 2008) with a pleasing hot pink background for a cup of… um… magic! coffee. Both set in California. And two more pink books Prom Kings and Drama Queens by Dorian Cirrone (HarperTeen March 2008) and Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Stories About Falling Out of Love by Four Incredible Authors by Niki Burnham, Terri Clark, Ellen Hopkins & Linda Sandoval (Graphia May 2008), a book of four stories about ending relationships.
So pink, not purple (see this post), seems to be the color of romance. Sure to keep the boys away.

Love in the Corner Triple Shot

Prom Kings Breaking Up


It is interesting that all use objects, and not people, to indicate relationships within. A growing trend. I do wonder what led to the elimination of people on books for children and teens. Any ideas?

Love in the Corner Pocket: Chloe, a Laguna Beach, California, high school student, sorts out questions about her parents’ separation and her own friendships and love life as she gets ready to compete in a pool tournament. (Ages 12+)
Triple Shot Betty: Sixteen-year-olds Geena, Hero, and Amber spend the summer working at a Sonoma, California coffee shop, where they experience romance, identity crises, and newfound friendships. (Ages 14+)
Prom Kings and Drama Queens: When high school junior Emily Bennet is caught between a new relationship with the boy of her dreams and planning an alternative prom with her longtime rival on the student newspaper, it forces her to think about her values and make a difficult decision. (Ages 12+)

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Four stories by four authors, about breaking up. (Ages 12+)


Rabbit Puzzle

Posted in book covers on February 14, 2008 by Jacket Whys

This book cover, Echo by Kate Morgenroth (Simon & Schuster 2007), has been sitting around in my queue since I started this blog. I’ve never found others to match with it, nor developed a clear cut idea about it.
What I can say is that every time I look at it I feel puzzled – though not in a bad way. The combination of this extremely odd image with the word “echo” is unexpected, yet fascinating. I did not know what to think the book was about. Having read several reviews, I can’t even imagine what the rabbit has to do with the story. Booklist calls it a “curiously compelling psychological drama.” The main character relives the same horrific event (his brother accidentally kills himself) over and over. Nevertheless, it’s an arresting image that begs explanation – begs one to pick it up and read it to find out what it represents. This book will go in my tall stack of books to get to.


Echo: After Justin witnesses his brother’s accidental shooting death, he must live with the repercussions, as the same horrific day seems to happen over and over. (Age 12+)

The Importance of Color & Paper

Posted in book covers, stock photos on February 9, 2008 by Jacket Whys

I was at my local library today and picked up some of the books I have talked about on this blog. It made me think about the importance of seeing the actual book – 3D. When you get your hands on the real object, you can find that papers, techniques, and colors may be far different than their 2-D representation.
Most of my comments are made based on cover scans. With that in mind, I want to add some comments about books I have talked about on this blog.
In “Defying Gravity,” I mentioned Kelly Easton’s book, White Magic (jacket illustration and design by Dustin Summers/Heads of State). I’ve got the book on my desk as I write. It’s still not a cover I think would attract teens. But the colors aren’t nearly as irritating on the 3-D book. The art has a silkscreen effect that is not quite as pronounced in the cover scan. The red (not nearly as bright as it appears in the scan) is more of a burgundy red, and is given texture by it’s overlap with the blue of the background. And that blue is quite different – less green, lighter, more textured – than it appears as well.
Interesting for me to discover that another jacket I didn’t like very much (mentioned in “Roses are…”), The Silenced by James DeVita, also has art done by The Heads of State (jacket designed by Jennifer Heuer). I took a look at some of the other work by this group. I do like their work overall. I think it works on another YA book, Sparrow by Sherri L. Smith. Subdued, but somehow more likely to draw readers. Purely a guess, I have nothing concrete to hang it on. As to color, the background on the 3-D Silenced is a much deeper orange (better!), than it appears on my computer screen.
One other notation I want to make (from Double Dipping?) is about The Declaration by Gemma Malley. This cover looks a lot different, because the photo (see the original photo at Getty Images and also the one for Boy Proof ) and lines of handwritten text appear right on the book, not on the jacket. The jacket is made of a vellum paper that you can see through, though not as clearly as you can on the cover scan. The text is printed on the jacket and is the main thing you see when you look at the 3-D book. (And these are the kinds of books that make librarians crazy – because how do you put a protective mylar cover on a book if you can see through the jacket? – the librarians who read this will know what I’m talking about!).

Light a Fire

Posted in book covers on February 6, 2008 by Jacket Whys

Books on fire! Alabama Moon by Watt Key (Farrar Straus Giroux 2006) and Pucker by Melanie Gideon (Razorbill 2006) have similar licks of fire on black backgrounds and white title text. On each an additional element creates a different texture and emotion. The handwritten note “Dear Pap, I think the law is after me…” gives the sense of someone running away, while the hot butterfly rising from curly licks of fire feels like it foretells a phoenix rising from ashes (it sort of does).
Pucker is a funny name, but it fits nicely in the simple white font across the top. I can almost see a face in this flame… This one is more of a fantasy – ah, yes, I should have known. Butterflies often signal fantasy I think (I’ll have to look into this more).
Moon is a name. Son of an anti-government Vietnam vet surviving outside of mainstream society. Seems like Alabama Moon and Gordon Korman’s Schooled (mentioned in an earlier post) go together, but are opposite sides of a coin…
I find these covers kind of mesmerizing. Like looking into the flame at a campfire. Both are books I would pick up and read based on the cover draw.

Alabama Moon Pucker

Right Behind You Cheated

Two other books with fire on black, but the fire here comes from a lighter. These seem more ominous to me. Scary. Like a human being must be behind the lighting of this fire, and it is up to no good. It’s interesting that the font used in both of these books is almost the same, and handled similarly as well, with blurred edges. It’s not the same publisher, so probably not the same designer. Two different designers matching the same kind of font with a lighter. Hmmm.
True to my gut feeling Right Behind You by Gail Giles (Little Brown 2007) is a story around a heinous murder committed by a young boy. Patrick Jones’ book, Cheated (Walker April 2008) isn’t out yet, so there’s not much information to go on, but looks as though there’s a murder in it, too.

All fire, all black background and white text… but each creates a different emotional response… in me anyway. It’s the shapes, the line the eye takes through the fire. No human beings are present on any of these jackets. I wonder what contributes to the decision to include them – characters from the story – or not?

Alabama Moon: After the death of his father, ten-year-old Moon leaves their forest shelter home and is sent to an Alabama institution, becoming entangled in the outside world he has never known and making good friends, a relentless enemy, and finally a new life.
Pucker: A seventeen-year-old disfigured boy travels to an alternate world to save his mother’s life.
Right Behind You: After spending over four years in a mental institution for murdering a friend in Alaska, fourteen-year-old Kip begins a completely new life in Indiana with his father and stepmother under a different name, but not only has trouble fitting in, he finds there are still problems to deal with from his childhood.
Cheated: Fifteen-year-old Mick recalls a series of betrayals and other life-changing events in his broken home, during the break-up with his girlfriend, and at school, that led to his arrest for murder.

Defying Gravity

Posted in book covers on February 1, 2008 by Jacket Whys

Here are books that are not tied together by subject, but by the gravity defying sideways placement of photos or illustrations set on flat (with the exception of the Barrows book) backgrounds. This is another case where I wish I was a speedy reader (I’m not) and could have read all the books I comment on before commenting. Reading the CIP summaries, the only sideways image that makes some sense is the one on Crushed by Laura & Tom McNeal (Knopf 2006). Except… “Audrey’s life is turned upside down”… well this is not upside down. The only connection I can find in any of the reviews for The Boy Book by E. Lockhart (Delacorte 2006) is that the main character works in a zoo? Thus the plastic penguin? Reclining? Do penguins lay down?
This is a sequel, and if you look at the cover for The Boyfriend List, you can see the branding of this series. I think Lockhart draws readers anyway. But I wonder how many new readers she gets with these covers as the invitation.

Crushed Boy Book

The next two share the word “magic” in the title, but The Magic Half by Annie Barrows (Bloomsbury 2008) is a time travel and White Magic by Kelly Easton (Wendy Lamb 2007) is about a coven of high school witches in Santa Monica.
Not sure why the two Magic Half girls would come face to face while walking up a wall But this cover might attract the target age group.
The color scheme on White Magic doesn’t do a thing for me. This unattractive aquamarine color (I haven’t seen the real book, so I’m hoping it’s really not this exact color) is probably an attempt at a tie-in to beachy southern California. I don’t like the shapes, the colors, the font, and it’s weird to see these candles (with flames that couldn’t do what they are doing) sprouting from the side of the book. It does have this going for it: potential censors who don’t like books about witches won’t be suspicious at all.
Magic Half White Magic

I picture the designer puzzling over the material and looking for a trendy way to make a book jacket stand out in some way. It doesn’t work for me – seems like the last resort of a struggle. But I haven’t a clue what kids will think of these covers. Will this funky orientation draw them? Or not….

Crushed: Seventeen-year-old Audrey’s life is turned upside down when she falls in love with a mysterious newcomer and a vicious gossip sheet exposes the secrets of both students and teachers at her school. (Age 14+)
Boy Book: A high school junior continues her quest for relevant data on the male species, while enjoying her freedom as a newly licensed driver and examining her friendship with a clean-living vegetarian classmate. (Age 12+) Jacket design by Angela Carlino.
Magic Half: Eleven-year-old Miri Gill feels left out in her family, which has two sets of twins and her, until she travels back in time to 1935 and discovers Molly, her own lost twin, and brings her back to the present day. (Ages 7-10) Jacket design by Donna Mark. Art by Alexandra Boiger.
White Magic: Three high school girls in Santa Monica form a coven to try to get what they feel is missing from their lives. (Age 12+) Jacket illustration and design by Dustin Summers/Heads of State.