Swirls & Light

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)


5 Responses to “Swirls & Light”

  1. Very interesting, L. When I look at illustrated covers, I immediately think “old fashioned.” Which is strange, because I love illustrated covers, especially for SF and Fantasy novels. We just went to a SF/Fantasy convention and the art show was my favorite place to hang out. I enjoyed looking closely at all those paintings of pulp covers from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Yet, when I see a painted cover for a YA book, I think, “meh.”

  2. I usually associate illustrated covers with MG and photographic with YA. I can’t say I can see MG books ever letting go of illustration in favor of photographs — there’s just something that says “kid, buy me!” about illustrated books.

    That said, my YA cover is being illustrated, so now I’m all nervous. ;)

  3. Of these, the first two really pop!

  4. Also notice that 2 of these jackets are done by the same illustrator. Another trend!

  5. I didn’t notice that! Didn’t have the illustrators for all of them. But the styles certainly look similar.
    So do you book designers have favorites for certain types of books? Are you wary of using the same illustrator too often?
    GeriD – interesting you think of these as old fashioned! I don’t think that of these four, but the ones in my “Sketchy” post definitely seem old fashioned to me.

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