Archive for March, 2008

Pink Book Buzz

Posted in book covers, color on March 27, 2008 by Jacket Whys

Pinkalicious Pink

Here are a couple of books for little girls about little girls who love pink – Pinkalicious by Elizabeth Kann and Pink by Nan Gregory…
I am a faithful reader of Roger Sutton’s blog (and all the interesting conversation sparked there). A couple of days ago, he wrote a post called “Code Pink.” Roger asks “Do girls who like this sort of thing appreciate the code, or do they roll their eyes and read despite it?” Then Lisa Chellman posted “Perpetuating Pink,” expressing her concern “As a librarian, I’m concerned by the color pink… What about books that are not as pink on the outside as they are on the inside?”
And I posted about pink books on Valentine’s Day. Yeah, pink is for that love stuff (eye roll).
Out of curiosity, I did a Google search on “pink book covers” and found lots of interesting stuff.
None of the above posts identified pink books with gay and lesbian books – and yet the term is often applied to them. Here’s a website called “Pinkbooks” which lists LGBTQ books for teens. And I guess I’ll have to start paying attention, because apparently diet books tend to be pink. Probably because women are the most obsessive dieters and we know how pink attracts women? Chicklit is pink too – it was often mentioned in book reviews (too many to link but here’s an example). Pink is really popular for “Bible covers.”
There were quotes from authors about the use of pink on their books, like this one from The New York Observer: ““I didn’t want any pink on the back of my book… I didn’t want pink on my book—not because of what other people would think, or how it would be judged or marketed: I didn’t want pink because I wouldn’t buy a book that was pink. That’s why I haven’t read any of the pink books….”
Watch out, if you read too many pink books, you just might turn pink.

Finally, here’s the real problem with pink books – “How judging a book by its ‘girlie’ cover is putting boys off reading” from the UK’s TimesOnline. Why do they keep doing this? Are publishers afraid that girls won’t know it’s for them if it isn’t pink or what?

[UPDATE: Found another post about pink books: Is Pink Really Evil?]

Pinkalicious: A little girl who is obsessed with the color pink eats so many pink cupcakes that she herself turns pink.
Pink: Vivi loves the color pink. She is working and saving her money in order to buy a pink doll from the store. How does she feel when the doll is sold to someone else?


Posted in book covers, illustration on March 22, 2008 by Jacket Whys

In my exploration of illustration on children’s and teen book jackets, I came across this jacket from Flux, The Shape of Water by Anne Spollen (2008). I had thought a lot about this particular jacket that also makes use of the tiny title trend. The illustration so reminded me of the 70s, when I was a teen myself, reminded me of some of the art from that time, some of the pieces I did myself when I was in art school. I liked this jacket a lot, but thought it was just nostalgia. Given my own pegging it to the 70s, I wondered about it’s success.
Brown is kind of an unusual color for a background (just based on my memory banks, not any hard evidence). That made it different, too.
This morning, I read this blog entry from Andrew Karre at the Flux Blog, which reminded me of all the above. It will be interesting to watch where this book goes, with an eye to how teens are feeling about the book’s advertisement, it’s cover.


Posted in book covers, illustration on March 20, 2008 by Jacket Whys

I’m still taking a look at illustrated book jackets. These four harken back to earlier days in children’s fiction. The style, a sketch on a flat background, has an old-fashioned feel. Where I Live by Eileen Spinelli (illustrated by Matt Phelan – Dial 2007) is the only one of the three without some other accent color. The Strongest Girl in the World by Sally Gardner (illustrated by Paul Howard – Penguin 2007, first published 1999) has just the spots of white in the headlights and starburst. Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley (illustrated by David Roberts – Bloomsbury 2007) varies the background color by fading it in the center. And The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry (Houghton Mifflin 2008 ) adds just that small bit of red to draw the eye right in.

Where I Live Strongest Girl

Uncle Montague Willoughbys

Uncle Montague is the only one here that is YA, which suggests that the style is considered more kid-friendly than teen-friendly. Younger children may be attracted to this style. Kids who read anyway will pick up these, but will non-readers be so-inclined? Will teens feel that Uncle Montague is too childish?

Where I Live: In a series of poems, Diana writes about her life, both before and after her father loses his job and she and her family move far away to live with Grandpa Joe. Ages 5-8.
Strongest Girl in the World: Two stories about ordinary children who suddenly develop magical powers, the first, an eight-year-old girl who uses her strength for good instead of for fun and the second, a boy whose invisibility helps him find his missing parents. Ages 7-12.
Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror: During a visit to his eccentric Uncle Montague to hear several grisly tales behind the unique artifacts in his collection, Edgar discovers the truth about his uncle’s past. Ages 12+.
Willoughbys: In this tongue-in-cheek take on classic themes in children’s literature, the four Willoughby children set about to become “deserving orphans” after their neglectful parents embark on a treacherous around-the-world adventure, leaving them in the care of an odious nanny. Ages 6-10.

Candy Cartoons

Posted in book covers, illustration on March 12, 2008 by Jacket Whys

This style has become incredibly popular. It’s a popularity I find quite difficult to understand. The art and design reminds me of the fifties. And it surprises me that book jackets that look like the innocent fifties would attract 21st century teens. Even the clothes look dated.
And is it just one artist out there doing these? The drawing style from one to the next is so similar. Something Borrowed by Catherine Hapka (Simon Pulse 2008 ) follows the regular template for these books, with the customary candy colored cartoons. Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet by Sherri L. Smith (Delacorte 2008 ) is just a little different in it’s layout and color palette. But the drawing itself is the same.

Something Borrowed Hot Sour

Every once in a while, you find a jacket that seems rooted in the same style, but is far more interesting in drawing, design, layout, and color. Playing With Fire by Emily Blake (Scholastic 2006) and Don’t Get it Twisted by Paula Chase (Kensington Publishing 2007) both have orange and light orange backgrounds instead of the candy sweet colors. The overall color schemes are exceptionally attractive. The choice of silhouette in white on one, and black on the other, and the attention to varied shape and line is much more intriguing than the cartoony faces and flat shapes of the jackets above. Though I am not generally a reader of this kind of book, these two have stopped me each time I have come across them.

Playing With Fire Dont Get it Twisted

So what am I missing? What is it about the style of the first two titles here that is working? I assume it is working, because there doesn’t seem to be a slowdown in numbers of books (though they are mostly series books) released with jackets that vary only slightly.

Something Borrowed: Romantic Comedies series. (Age 12+)
Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet: Disaster strikes when Ana Shen is about to deliver the salutatorian speech at her junior high school graduation, but an even greater crisis looms when her best friend invites a crowd to Ana’s house for dinner, and Ana’s multicultural grandparents must find a way to share a kitchen. (Age 10+)
Playing with Fire: Fifteen-year-old Kelly’s life is a mess. Her mother is in jail, her best friend betrayed her, and her boyfriend seems too good to be true. The only thing she can depend is is that nobody can be trusted, especially members of her family. (Age 12+)
Don’t Get it Twisted: A Del Rio Bay Clique novel. (Age 12+)

Swirls & Light

Posted in book covers, illustration on March 3, 2008 by Jacket Whys

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.

Dragons Egg Treasures of W

Iris Messenger Grimoire

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)