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.


4 Responses to “Sketchy”

  1. The last two really remind me of covers from Joan Aiken and Lemony Snickett with a slightly Gothic aesthetic — Both of them wrote for middle-grade readers but I daresay that older readers picked them up, too.

  2. The last two have a definite Edward Gorey influence.

  3. Although I have not read it, I have always found the cover of The Willoughby’s intriguing. The red door is definitely part of it, but I also think it reminds me of an old wood cutting. I love old things so I feel drawn to this cover.
    The other covers definitely remind me of my childhood (I was born in 1976). Magical Kids looks a bit Shel Silverstein-ish. He was a favorite as a child.

  4. As a teen, I’m most partial to the Willoughby’s cover. Magical Kids definitely looks too young to pick up. But I like the cover of Uncle Montague’s due to the Gorey influence.

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