One of the biggest reasons that I started this blog was to puzzle over art director choices for book covers. I love Chad Beckerman’s blog for that. He gives background and reasons for some of the covers he directs – see this post. It is so so enlightening to get a peek into the process. Thanks to Chad. And if there are other publishers’ art directors out in the blogosphere doing these, please point them out in the comments!
Archive for February, 2009
This week on the YALSA-BK list, Liza Gilbert, Head of Youth Services* at a library in a Chicago area suburb in Wisconsin posted the results of an informal survey. She has a teen group that meets once a week to talk about books nominated for YALSA’s Best Books for Young Adults. At a recent meeting she informally surveyed members about the covers of about 24 nominated books. She asked for a “3-second” response – yes or no.
The results were interesting. There were about eight kids, so not enough for anything conclusive. But this little group made the case for something I’ve thought as long as I’ve been doing this blog.
The first three books here, The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb (Houghton 2009), Fade by Lisa McMann (Simon Pulse 2009), Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner (Random House 2009) were the top vote-getters. Eight of eight voted yes on The Fetch. I haven’t seen the actual cover, but someone said “I like the shininess,” so I’m guessing there’s some foil, probably well done (foil can be overdone).
The other two had seven yes votes and a no. The comparisons between them are pretty obvious. Each has a real focal object, and a mysterious atmospheric quality. Mostly good type treatment, especially with Fade. Good hooks.
The second set here are some of the less-favored covers. This Full House by Virginia Euwer Wolff (Bowen Press 2009), Sister Wife by Shelley Hrdlitschka (Orca 2008), and Belle by Cameron Dokey (Simon Pulse 2008) each received five no votes and one yes vote (for some reason only six were voting here). “Boring” was a favorite descriptor.
It’s kind of surprising – because I’ve always loved the Once Upon a Time covers, and I was very intrigued by Sister Wife. I wasn’t real fond of the colors and mirroring on This Full House, but I thought kids would like it.
It begs my question. Are teens really attracted to what another poster on YALSA-BK called “torso books“? If these kids are representative, then I would say some market research needs to be done with the target audience. They are tired of this common cover choice.
I still wonder: Do they like it better when there’s a face? Does it work to have huge numbers of books come out every year with stock photos of girls on them?
Of all the books on the list, only two with humans on them appealed to this group – Evermore (compared to Twilight) and Larry and the Meaning of Life. Each had five yes votes and three nos. And they didn’t like really plain books. 3 Willows had six no votes and two yes. Big surprise – NOT. It’s the most puzzling cover choice I’ve seen yet this year. The publisher really is counting on the Brashares name to sell this one. Same goes for the other very plain jacket – Forever Princess – with five no votes and three yes. Counting on Cabot.
*This is posted with Liza’s permission.
Fetch: After 350 years as a Fetch, or death escort, Calder breaks his vows and enters the body of Rasputin, whose spirit causes rebellion in the Land of Lost Souls while Calder struggles to convey Ana and Alexis, orphaned in the Russian Revolution, to Heaven. Age 12+. Reviews: 1, 2.
Fade: Using her ability to tap into other people’s dreams, eighteen-year-old Janie investigates an alleged sex ring at her high school that involves teachers using the date rape drug on students. Ages 14+. Reviews: 1, 2, 3.
Bones of Faerie: Fifteen-year-old Liza travels through war-ravaged territory in a struggle to bridge the faerie and human worlds and to bring back her mother while learning of her own powers and that magic can be controlled. Age. Reviews: 1, 2, 3.
This Full House: High-school-senior LaVaughn’s perceptions and expectations of her life begin to change as she learns about the many unexpected connections between the people she loves best. Ages 14+. Reviews: 1, 2.
Sister Wife: Ages 12+. Reviews: 1.
Belle: Ages 12+. Reviews: 1..
We’ve seen all kinds of face-croppings on book covers. Here’s a new one (or at least newly noticed by me). The chin triangle. Both Just One Wish by Janette Rallison (Putnam’s, March) and Swoon by Nina Malkin (Simon Pulse, May) use this to great effect. On the latter book, it’s more like a part of the landscape. I’ve seen a lot of ho-hum covers in the upcoming crop of books – but these are pretty and inviting. The title and author fonts/colors are important as part of the composition and they’re harmonius rather than overly busy like so many others.
UPDATE: I’ve got Just One Wish in my hands, and it’s even better than it looks in this picture. The starburst-y things have just a tiny bit of glitter – enough to catch your eye with a subtle sparkle. Not too much – just enough. Nice.
Just One Wish: Seventeen-year-old Annika tries to cheer up her little brother Jeremy before his surgery to remove a cancerous tumor by bringing home his favorite television actor, Steve Raleigh, the star of “Teen Robin Hood.” Cover designed by Theresa M. Evangelista. Ages 12+. Reviews: 1, 2, 3.
Swoon: In rural Connecticut, when seventeen-year-old Dice tries to exorcise a seventeenth-century man who is possessing her cousin Pen, she inadvertently makes him corporeal–and irresistible. Ages 16+.
Reuse of images or image features is not the province of stock photography alone. Even illustrators reuse elements of their work. The faces on these three book covers (all by Nicoletta Ceccioli) are almost identical. I thought maybe that was just a facial pose/image that this illustrator always used, but I looked through the books she showcases on her website and they don’t all have quite the same similarity – though her style is easy to spot. Before I consciously realized that these were all done by the same illustrator, I kept mistaking one for the other – The Joy of Spooking: Fiendish Deeds by P. J. Bracegirdle (McElderry 2008) and The Remarkable & Very True Story of Lucy & Snowcap by H. M. Bouwman (Cavendish 2008) anyway. The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum by Kate Bernheimer (Schwartz & Wade 2008) is a picture book, so it’s harder to mix it up with the other two.
Lucy & Snowcap: In 1788, thirteen years after English convicts are shipwrecked on the magical islands of Tathenland, two twelve-year-old girls, one a native Colay, the other the child-governor of the English, set out on a journey to stop the treachery from which both peoples are suffering. Age 10+. Reviews: 1, 2, 3.
Girl in the Castle: Children come to visit a little girl who lives all alone inside a castle that is housed inside of a museum. Age [no one seems to agree on this]. Reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4.