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.

6 Responses to “Telescoping”

  1. great post! i agree with your observations!

  2. Another less successful adaptation, I think, is A Drowned Maiden’s Hair, by Laura Amy Schlitz. The paperback cover has lost the sinister seascape in the background, showing only the girl’s face framed in red. This book is a Caudill (Illinois children’s choice award) nominee this year, and it hasn’t budged from our paperback shelves. The thickness of the book may have something to do with it, but I lay the most blame on the blah cover. What were the designers thinking?

  3. I agree about Drowned Maiden. And there’s a funny effect around the girl’s hair that is magnified on the paperback.

  4. Also the closeup and yellow-er tones of the paperback make the girl in Freedom Beyond the Sea look seasick.

  5. I just saw this same treatment on Cecilia Reese’s Witch Child (Candlewick). I love your blog!

  6. I would like to add the example of Midori Snyder’s “Hannah’s Garden.” The hardcover came out in 2002, the paperback in 2005 with a cover so telescoped that I saw it many times before realizing it was part of the same image.

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