What They Really Think

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..


One Response to “What They Really Think”

  1. I am baffled by the continued use of the torso cover – and over it. One of the worst, I think, was the HC version of HOW TO DITCH YOUR FAIRY, where the girl’s pants are…really, really low. I think the torso crops are creepy and I think kids are sick of them.

    The three they liked best are the three I like best, too, especially FADE.

    Thanks for the link!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s