Archive for January, 2009

Best Covers of 2008 – Final

Posted in best book jackets, book covers on January 27, 2009 by Jacket Whys

At last, the final four book covers in my top ten favorite book covers of 2008. I chose them first – then realized that there are none with close up photographs of fashion plate-y young women. There are an awful lot of those this year and it’s been overdone. I’m hoping to see less of them in 2009. They just aren’t as interesting as any of the covers I’ve highlighted here.

artichokeNot only do I love the cover of Artichoke’s Heart by Suzanne Supplee (Dutton), but the whole book is pleasingly designed.  As Lisa Chellman said, “it makes my mouth water” and who can resist a box of chocolates? But what makes it a top pick for me is the details – how nicely arranged and perfectly colored. And the icing on the chocolates is that they are complemented with little illustrations that look real (please don’t tell me if they’ve been photoshopped in!).
The title font is just right, and carried throughout the book in the chapter headings and first letters in each chapter. There’s a small, greyed illustration of an artichoke at the beginning of each chapter as well, and a smaller version on each page. It’s all-in-all a well-designed book that’s a pleasure to look at.

chainsThe illustration for Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson (Simon & Schuster) is good, but its impact is very much enhanced by the color palette and the decision to use hand lettering. It looks so… colonial. Perfect for the subject matter of this book (which I happen to be in the middle of reading).
This is one of those cases where the spine is excellent as well. It is hand-lettered in the same style as Anderson’s name on the front, with the title letters stacked vertically upon one another – something you don’t see very often – and as wide as the spine itself.
Congratulations to Laurie Halse Anderson for her Margaret A. Edwards Award!

venomousVenomous by Christopher Krovatin (Atheneum) is one of a couple of book covers I saw this year that showed part of an arm, but it’s by far the best one. Another instance of great colors – monochromatic, with the exception of the skin – and texture, and really appropriate and well selected fonts. I like how the letters of the title retain their shape, even though they are written on the arm in the inky venom running through the main character’s veins.

red-dragon1And this one should have appeared in the first set – the red group. The Search for the Red Dragon by James A. Owen (Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica #2, Simon & Schuster) – and really, the whole series. Have I said it too many times? Great fonts, nicely arranged. I like the box (a ticket?) that holds the title. All three of the titles in this series have great ink illustrations. Each is a different monochromatic ink wash (?).
I’m not entirely sure these will draw kids. I like them anyway.

Artichoke’s Heart: When she is almost sixteen years old, Rosemary decides she is sick of being overweight, mocked at school and at Heavenly Hair–her mother’s beauty salon–and feeling out of control, and as she slowly loses weight, she realizes that she is able to cope with her mother’s cancer, having a boyfriend for the first time, and discovering that other people’s lives are not as perfect as they seem from the outside. Age 10+. Reviews: 1. Cover design by Natalie C. Sousa.
Chains: After being sold to a cruel couple in New York City, a slave named Isabel spies for the rebels during the Revolutionary War.  Age 10+. Reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5Jacket design by Lizzy Bromley. Jacket illustrations by Christopher Silas Neal.
Venomous: Since age eight, New York City high school junior Locke Vinetti has experienced bouts of overpowering anger, but now that he has friends who accept him and a true girlfriend, “the venom” threatens to destroy all that he loves. Age 14+. Reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4. Jacket design and illustration by Sammy Yuen Jr.
Search for the Red Dragon: Nine years after they came together to defeat the Winter King, John, Jack, and Charles return to the Archipelago of Dreams and face a new challenge involving the Lost Boys and giants. Age 12+. Reviews: 1, 2, 3.

Best Covers of 2008 – Part 2

Posted in best book jackets, book covers on January 18, 2009 by Jacket Whys

Set number two of my ten favorite book covers of the year.


The cover of Skin Deep by E. M. Crane (Delacorte) is just so pretty! The split smack dab in the middle seems to go against what little wisdom I remember from my art school days, however, the use of complementary colors is classic – and beautiful here. The texture of the backgrounds and silhouettes really adds to the effect. Try picturing this cover without it, and you can see what I mean.


Hummingbird by Kimberly Greene Angle (Farrar Straus Giroux) is another example of title text being perfectly integrated into the cover design, and another instance of the use of complementary colors to make a book stand out. Watermelon is sort of an iconic symbol of summer and the south – relevant for this title. Green foil is used tastefully on the hummingbird, and the simulation of stitching is interesting.


On The Buddha’s Diamonds by Carolyn Marsden and Thay Phap Niem (Candlewick) it is the photography and the exotic setting that make it a top-ten selection. The font choice works well, though I wish it was a tad lower, with all of it on the water.
What I love about the photo is the atmospheric quality. I can feel myself sitting in that picture. That is what draws me in and makes me want to know the story.

Skin Deep: When sixteen-year-old Andrea Anderson begins caring for a sick neighbor’s dog, she learns a lot about life, death, pottery, friendship, hope, and love. Age 12+. Reviews, 1, 2, 3. Jacket illustration by Stephanie Dalton Cowan. Jacket design by Vikki Sheatsley.
Hummingbird: In spite of a busy life on the family pumpkin and watermelon farm in Jubilee, Georgia, twelve-year-old March Anne Tanner feels that something is missing, and when Grenna, the grandmother who has helped raise her since her mother died when she was three, also passes on, March Anne finds that she must act on her feelings of loss. Age 8-12. Reviews, 1, 2.
Buddha’s Diamonds: As a storm sweeps in, Tinh’s father tells him to tie up their fishing boat but the storm scares him and he runs away, but when the damage to the boat is discovered, Tinh realizes what he must do. Ages 8-12. Reviews, 1, 2. Jacket photograph by Catherine Karnow/CORBIS.

Best Covers of 2008 – Part 1

Posted in best book jackets, book covers, book spines on January 13, 2009 by Jacket Whys

After looking at hundreds of 2008 children’s and YA fiction book covers, I’ve narrowed it down to my ten favorites. Here are the first three, in no particular order.

Each time I saw the cover of Triskellion by Will Peterson [Mark Billingham & Peter Cocks] (Candlewick) this year, it caught my attention and intrigued me.

triskellionThe white-gold bee silhouettes are beautiful by themselves (I’m a sucker for insect shapes). They stand out against the black and red background, circling and drawn to a light focused nicely in the “O” of the title. The off-center triangle and surrounding red dashed lines, the trillium shape, and the perfectly selected font… Each adds to the whole. Candlewick doesn’t credit the designer, on the flap, but they should!

dragoneyeEon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman (Viking) made my top ten first time I saw it. The exciting, mysterious art is just what a book needs to grab hold of potential readers. And I’m not the only one who loved this cover. Many of the reviews linked below mentioned the cover draw.

robeSilver foil can be overused, but it’s perfect on The Robe of Skulls by Vivian French (Candlewick). Only the skulls are silver. The skull in place of the “O” in Robe is a nice touch.

All of these titles have meshed the art beautifully with the title and author fonts and placement. Triskellion and Robe of Skulls both have great spines as well. I haven’t had a copy of Eon in my hands yet. Don’t know the designer and haven’t seen the spine.

Triskellion: When fourteen-year-old twins Adam and Rachel go to visit their grandmother in an unwelcoming and ancient English village, they realize that there is something unnatural about it and are swept up in an archaeological mystery. Age 13+. Reviews, 1, 2, 3.
Eon : Dragoneye Reborn: Sixteen-year-old Eon hopes to become an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune and learn to be its main interpreter, but to do so will require much, including keeping secret that she is a girl. Age 12+. Reviews, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Book Trailer.
Robe of Skulls: The sorceress Lady Lamorna has her heart set on a very expensive new robe, and she will stop at nothing–including kidnapping and black magic–to get the money to pay for it. Age 6-10. Reviews, 1, 2, 3, 4.

Your Favorites on Display

Posted in best book jackets, book covers, book designers on January 9, 2009 by Jacket Whys

I’m trying to decide on my favorite covers of 2008 and get them down to ten (impossible!). In the meantime I thought it would be interesting to see all of your favorites (mentioned in the comments of Your Favorites) together. Lisa Chellman put her favorites together here. It’s pretty clear to me that it’s all a matter of personal taste – they are all very different. Think about that, and maybe you get an idea of how hard it is to be the designer!

favs-4 favs-10 favs-3

favs-2 favs-6 favs-16

favs-5 favs-7 favs-11

favs-111 favs-14 favs-17

favs-91 favs-8

[UPDATE 1/14/09- While searching for something completely unrelated, I found this on Flickr – a photo “Originally published by Harper’s Bazaar in their December 1947 issue, and later by Sports Illustrated in 1955, it has since been used for a number of record covers” AND on the cover of the book Tethered!]

And these picture books:

favs-12 favs-13 favs-15

White Sands, Red Menace by Ellen Klages (Viking):     It is 1946, and Dewey Kerrigan is now living near the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico with the Gordon family. Dewey and her “sister,” Suze, share secrets, art, and science as they adjust to high school in an isolated desert town. Then, Dewey’s long-lost mother, Rita Gallucci, reappears in their lives.
Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley (Little, Brown): After dying, high school senior Charlotte Usher is as invisible to nearly everyone as she always felt, but despite what she learns in a sort of alternative high school for dead teens, she clings to life while seeking a way to go to the Fall Ball with the boy of her dreams.
by Kristin Cashore (Harcourt): In a world where some people are born with extreme and often-feared skills called Graces, Katsa struggles for redemption from her own horrifying Grace, the Grace of killing, and teams up with another young fighter to save their land from a corrupt king.
Curse as Dark as Gold
by Elizabeth Bunce (Scholastic): Upon the death of her father, seventeen-year-old Charlotte struggles to keep the family’s woolen mill running in the face of an overwhelming mortgage and what the local villagers believe is a curse, but when a man capable of spinning straw into gold appears on the scene she must decide if his help is worth the price. Jacket design by Alison Klapthor, photograph by Michael Frost.
by Celia Rees (Bloomsbury): In 1794 England, the rich and beautiful Sovay, disguised as a highwayman, acquires papers that could lead to her father’s arrest for treason, and soon her newly-awakened political consciousness leads her and a compatriot to France during the Revolution.
Generation Dead
by Daniel Waters (Hyperion): When dead teenagers who have come back to life start showing up at her high school, Phoebe, a goth girl, becomes interested in the phenomenon, and when she starts dating a “living impaired” boy, they encounter prejudice, fear, and hatred.
A Crooked Kind of Perfect
by Linda Urban (Harcourt): Ten-year-old Zoe Elias, who longs to play the piano but must resign herself to learning the organ, instead, finds that her musicianship has a positive impact on her workaholic mother, her jittery father, and her school social life.
by Lauren Myracle (Amulet): Having grown up in a California commune, Bliss sees her aloof grandmother’s Atlanta world as a foreign country, but she is determined to be nice as a freshman at an elite high school, which makes her the perfect target for Sandy, a girl obsessed with the occult.
The Brothers Torres
by Coert Voorhees (Hyperion): Sophomore Frankie finally finds the courage to ask his long-term friend, Julianne, to the Homecoming dance, which ultimately leads to a face-off between a tough senior whose family owns most of their small, New Mexico town, and Frankie’s soccer-star older brother and his gang-member friends.
by Amy MacKinnon (Shaye Areheart):
The Way He Lived
by Emily Wing Smith (Flux):
Breaking Dawn
by Stephenie Meyer (Little, Brown): Although eighteen-year-old Bella joins the dark but seductive world of the immortals by marrying Edward the vampire, her connection to the powerful werewolf Jacob remains unsevered.
The Curse of Cuddles McGee
by Emily Ecton (Aladdin):
The Order of Odd-Fish
by James Kennedy (Delacorte):Thirteen-year-old Jo suddenly finds her humdrum life turned upside down when Colonel Anatoly Kordakov shows up at her aunt’s party and announces he has come to protect her.
Roonie B. Moonie: Lost and Alone
by Janan Cain (Illumination Arts):
We Are the Ship by Kadir Nelson (Jump at the Sun): Using an “Everyman” player as his narrator, Kadir Nelson tells the story of Negro League baseball from its beginnings in the 1920s through the decline after Jackie Robinson crossed over to the majors in 1947. Illustrations from oil paintings by artist Kadir Nelson.
Dinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea (Hyperion):