Archive for December, 2008


Posted in book covers, illustration on December 31, 2008 by Jacket Whys

Here’s something I noticed recently, and have been looking out for: Take the art from the cover of an original edition (usually the hardcover), telescope in on an interesting segment of the art, and make it the cover for the paperback. Add a newer, bolder title font and voila! In the cases of the first three pairs here, The Executioner’s Daughter by Laura E. Williams (Henry Holt 2000), The Riddle by Alison Croggon (Candlewick 2006) and Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop (Wendy Lamb 2006), it’s an improvement. Each of these paperbacks is more interesting (to me) than its hardcover predecessor.

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On Executioner’s Daughter, the font really helps. This bolder font seems more appropos of the subject. Somehow the fanciness of the title on the hardcover version seems ill-fitting the subject.

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On The Riddle, it surprises me that I like the paperback better, because it’s very much in the half-face/three-quarter face tradition that people are mostly tired of. But the intent look on the face makes it work.

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And I think the iconic industrial revolution era photo on Counting on Grace makes much more of an impact full on, than it does framed – even though the frame echoes the photo.
Not so successful, is Freedom Beyond the Sea by Waldtraut Lewin (Delacorte 2001), where the image is zoomed in and flipped. On this one, the seascape adds too much to leave it out. It supports the title idea of “beyond the sea” and it works. On the paperback, not only is the image cropped, but it’s cramped by the vertical banner that holds the title.

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Executioner’s Daughter: Thirteen-year-old Lily, daughter of the town’s executioner living in fifteenth-century Europe, decides whether to fight against her destiny or to rise above her fate. Ages 10-14.
Riddle: The further translation of a manuscript from the lost civilization of Edil-Amarandah which chronicles the experiences of sixteen-year-old Maerad, a gifted Bard, as she seeks the answer to the Riddle of the Treesong and continues to battle the Dark forces. Ages 12+.
Counting on Grace: It’s 1910 in Pownal, Vermont. At 12 Grace and her best friend Arthur must go to work in the mill, helping their mothers work the looms. Together Grace and Arthur write a secret letter to the Child Labor Board about underage children working in the mill. A few weeks later, Lewis Hine, a famous reformer arrives undercover to gather evidence. Grace meets him and appears in some of his photographs, changing her life forever. Ages 8-12.
Freedom Beyond the Sea: To escape the Inquisition, Esther Marchadi, the sixteen-year-old daughter of a murdered Jewish rabbi, disguises herself as a boy and joins the crew of Christopher Columbus’s “Santa Maria.” Grades 5-9.

There’s a Reason…

Posted in book covers, book designers, illustration on December 14, 2008 by Jacket Whys

… I just can’t imagine what it is. Below are the hardcover (left) and paperback (right) covers of Lights, Camera, Amalee by Dar Williams (Scholastic 2006). Note the differences to the central figure: instead of blue rolled up pants, she now has longer camouflage-y pants with lots of pockets – her shirt changed from green to orange…
Other than that the layout is almost identical. The cropping of the art is slightly different The fonts are changed, the background is changed from a top-to-bottom green-to-white gradation, to an outside-to-inside blue-to-white gradation. But the overall look is too similar for the designer motivation to be obvious.
Minor changes from hardcover to paperback always mystify me. Were there lots of letters from readers that said the artist got the character wrong? The changes are so subtle, it hardly seems worth the alteration – unless there was a glaring faux-pas in matching the cover characterizations to their characters.

Dar Williams is an author whom I know more as a singer/songwriter – have enjoyed her music at a few folk festivals.

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Lights, Camera, Amalee: When seventh-grader Amalee uses an inheritance to make a movie about endangered species, she discovers a link with the mother she never knew. Grades 4-7.

Book Cover as Landscape

Posted in book covers on December 9, 2008 by Jacket Whys

This post is off-topic (but still related). I cannot resist bringing attention to this little video from the Blurberati Blog. AWESOME!

This Is Where We Live from 4th Estate on Vimeo.

Your Favorites

Posted in best book jackets, book covers on December 6, 2008 by Jacket Whys

I’ve been thinking about my best covers of 2008 post for a while now. Teacherninja‘s post to my last post, however, made me think I could ask the readers of this blog to share their favorites. I’d love to know which covers have caught your eyes. Comment away! And thanks, in advance, for your suggestions.


Posted in book covers, stock photos on December 2, 2008 by Jacket Whys

A sidetrack from my usual book cover comments. Less on cover art and more about serendipity surrounding this particular book jacket.
After the “Genre Luncheon” at the YALSA Symposium in Nashville, all of the authors were posted around the edges of the room signing and giving out their books (free!).
It was kind of a mad dash… like a a big sale in a department store. I don’t have much stomach for that and looked for the lines that were a little less killer.
To my good fortune a line I wound up in was for Kristin O’Donnell Tubb. When it was my turn, I mentioned that I liked the scrapbook-y cover of Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different (Delacorte 2008). Kristin told me that she was actually going to be meeting the girl in the photograph on the cover the next week! She promised to send me a photo (see it below).
So there’s something I hadn’t considered. What’s it like for people who appear in stock photos on book covers? Do they feel compelled to read the book? What if the book becomes a sensation? What if Harry Potter had had a stock photo cover? Where would that person be today?
Maybe there’s the reason, after all, for the half-faces, the body parts, the strange croppings. It renders the subject a little less recognizable…
I’m guessing this – below – doesn’t happen often. Pretty cool.

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I haven’t gotten to read the book yet. But the other part of the serendipity of this book for me, is that the subject and story of the book have some close parallels to some things in my own life. Takes place in 1934 – my mother was born that year. It involves Autumn’s grandfather and the startup of Great Smoky Mountains National Park  – my grandfather was an early employee of the National Park Service, having gotten his start in the CCC, and worked at Mammoth Cave around the time that Autumn Winifred Oliver’s story takes place. You can see his story, written by my grandmother, here.

Here’s a book trailer for the book, put up by The Class of 2k8.