Archive for April, 2008


Posted in book covers, illustration on April 27, 2008 by Jacket Whys

I just stumbled across this book due out in June, Nurk by Ursula Vernon (Harcourt). There is something about the cover drawing that I find incredibly appealing… Anthropomorphic animals don’t always get me. But this little crew does.
I did some looking around and couldn’t find much – the author is also the illustrator. I assume it will be an illustrated book – but not a picture book. The target age is 8-12.
You can see more of Vernon’s artwork here and here (I love this fish). Great stuff! And see what appears to be the beginnings of her Nurk idea in this drawing dated 2002.

Nurk: Nurk, a sort-of brave shrew, packs up a few pairs of clean socks and sails off on an accidental adventure, guided by wisdom found in the journal of his famously brave and fierce grandmother, Lady Surka the warrior shrew.

UPDATE (8/12/08): Here’s an interesting note on book covers. I don’t usually read this kind of book (animal fantasy), but I was so charmed by the cover, that I read this one. I was equally charmed by the story and the writing style, and happened to be on the Quicklists Committee (Association for Library Service to Children – ALSC). We were working on a list for Oprah’s new Kids Reading List, recommending new books in several age categories. I contributed this title, and VOILA! this book is now recommended on the Oprah site. Just goes to show you how a book cover is the first step in capturing readers.

Someone Else on Double Dipping

Posted in book covers, stock photos, Uncategorized on April 23, 2008 by Jacket Whys

Well, I have to admit, I thought I was the first one to point out the whole double dipping thing. But I found a blog – The Rap Sheet – that pointed it out far sooner and took it further than I did. The first post, dated in 2006 – When Covers Are Two of a Kind – includes 8 pairs, analyzed for the different techniques used to make the same photo appear slightly different on two different jackets. Follow up posts with more examples appeared on the blog in March of this year in Repeat Offenders and Double Exposure.
I guess this occurs seldom on YA covers compared to books from the mainstream market. Or maybe there are just so many more covers to design….
On another note, I bring your attention to the new jackets on Chad Beckerman’s blog.


Posted in book covers, stock photos on April 16, 2008 by Jacket Whys

With the surprising success of The Luxe by Anna Godbersen (HarperCollins) last year, there’s a spike in photographs of young women in 18th & 19th century costume – complete with big hair – on jackets of books for teens.
Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention, but historical fiction just wasn’t so, um, hip before this book. The Luxe is set in 1899 and has repeatedly been compared to The Gossip Girls.


Saving Juliet In Mozart\'s Shadow

Now other, perhaps meatier, historical fiction is being released with similar cover photography. The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner (Dial May 2008), set at the start of the French Revolution has this blonde beehive haired woman, very ornately dressed in light blue, set against a strangely dissonant drab green background. The little font title in a slash across her neck is a nice touch.
Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle (Holt 2008 ) is set in 1837, sounds like a read-alike for The Luxe? Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors (Walker & Co. 2008 ) is set in modern day, but with a time travel twist back to the 16th century. Good anachronous hint with the bubble gum! And In Mozart’s Shadow by Carolyn Meyer (Harcourt 2008 ) is the only one here where you see the whole face, albeit it’s in shadow. And there are more! Not pictured here is the sequel to The Luxe, of course, due out in June. (And, the adult novel Mistress of the Revolution by Catherine Delors (Dutton 2008 ) which I first mentioned here as a YA – read about how this cover came about)

The Red Necklace: In the late eighteenth-century, Sido, the twelve-year-old daughter of a self-indulgent marquis, and Yann, a fourteen-year-old Gypsy orphan raised to perform in a magic show, face a common enemy at the start of the French Revolution.
Bewitching Season: In 1837, as seventeen-year-old twins, Persephone and Penelope, are starting their first London Season they find that their beloved governess, who has taught them everything they know about magic, has disappeared.
Saving Juliet: Seventeen-year-old Mimi Wallingford’s stage fright and fight with her mother on the closing night of Romeo and Juliet are nothing compared to the troubles she faces when she and her leading man are transported to Shakespeare’s Verona, where she decides to give the real Juliet a happy ending.
In Mozart’s Shadow: In eighteenth-century Europe, Anna “Nannerl” Mozart, a musician whose talent and dedication is overshadowed by that of her gifted younger brother, Wolfgang, struggles to win the notice of her father and patrons who might further her career, despite her gender. Age 12+. Jacket art Cliff Nielsen; Jacket design by Vaughn Andrews.
The Luxe: In Manhattan in 1899, five teens of different social classes lead dangerously scandalous lives, despite the strict rules of society and the best-laid plans of parents and others.

“Golden Fuse Awards” 2007

Posted in best book jackets, book covers, worst book jackets on April 15, 2008 by Jacket Whys

For a different take on the best and worst (and a few other categories) book jackets of 2007, check out the Golden Fuse Awards on the School Library Journal website.
Different picks than I chose for my 10 Best of 2007 (Part 1, Part 2, and Final 4). We overlap on the duds though. I’m guessing that Ferret Island will come out in paperback with giant ferrets on the jacket…. ;-)

Stingy with Color?

Posted in book covers, color, stock photos on April 10, 2008 by Jacket Whys

I can’t remember who said it (could have been a blog?), but somewhere I read a list of complaints about recent book covers. One complaint cited was “I’m sick of black & white book covers” (paraphrased). I had noticed a few of these and had briefly wondered whether it was a new thing, or just an ongoing occasional choice. I made a mental note to notice it more often.
Sure enough, I’ve seen a number of upcoming book jackets that use black and white photos. The technique/trend is a black and white photo – colored up a bit with a color title. Or sometimes, as in the case of Frances O’Roark Dowell‘s new novel Shooting the Moon (Atheneum January 2008 – not shown here), a black and white photo ever so faintly colorized.
Perhaps, as with photos on any other book cover, the trick is in the choice of photo, and choice of cropping. I think that in the covers below, High Dive by Tammar Stein (Knopf June 2008 ) has the most interesting photo choice and cropping. The font and placement of the title fits too.
Not so sure about the others here. Little Audrey by Ruth White (Farrar Straus Giroux September 2008 ) is successful at setting the time period. The photo does look very 40s/50s. The font and color – and that little curly design add interest. It seems like the contrast is off in Where People Like Us Live by Patricia Cumbie (HarperTeen June 2008 ). The photo seems unattractively dark and muddy. And a modern photo(? doesn’t look like 1978 to me)?
On Rehab by Randi Reisfeld (Simon Pulse July 2008), we’ve got the classic cropping (in the middle of the girl’s face of course!). I like the color effect on the large font. But the darkness on the right seems strange and fuzzy.
As always, I wonder what the thinking is that leads to these designs. One caveat – none of the books pictured have been released yet, so there’s always the chance the design will change before people actually get them.

High Dive Little Audrey

Where People Rehab

Some other new books fitting into this category and not pictured here are Bird Lake Moon by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow May 2008), Dani Bennoni: Long May He Live by Bart Moeyaert (Front Street 2008). Passing fad or long lasting trend?

High Dive: With her mother stationed in Iraq as an Army nurse, Vanderbilt University student Arden Vogel, whose father was killed in a traffic accident a few years earlier, impulsively ends up on a tour of Europe with a group of college girls she meets on her way to attend to some family business in Sardinia.
Little Audrey: In 1948, eleven-year-old Audrey lives with her father, mother, and three younger sisters in Jewell Valley, a coal mining camp in Southwest Virginia, where her mother still mourns the death of a baby, her father goes on drinking binges on paydays, and Audrey tries to recover from the scarlet fever that has left her skinny and needing to wear glasses.
Where People Like Us Live: In 1978, when her restless father moves the family to Racine, Wisconsin, fourteen-year-old Libby quickly becomes friends with neighbor Angie, but there is something strange about Angie’s stepfather and when Libby learns the truth, she must make a very difficult choice. Jacket art by Heide Benser/Solus Photography.
Rehab: Cover designed by Cara E. Petrus, cover photograph by Masterfile.

Paper Towns Doubles

Posted in book covers on April 3, 2008 by Jacket Whys

So here’s something unusual. John Green’s new book, Paper Towns, is coming out in October with two different covers. John gives no explanation on his blog, and I sure would like to know what led to this decision (or INdecision). One of John’s blog reading flock, Ben, makes an observation that is something to think about. He says, “Books cannot be judged by their covers, but I do think that covers may be judged by their book. Once I read Paper Towns, I’ll most likely have a favorite cover. However, until then, I will not. Does this seem like sound logic?”
Sounds logical to me.