Archive for July, 2009

Debut YA Covers

Posted in Uncategorized on July 29, 2009 by Jacket Whys

From Scope Notes – don’t miss this gallery! Some of these are better than what’s really out there…


Authors Love Their Cover Art (Sometimes)

Posted in book covers, controversy on July 23, 2009 by Jacket Whys

This post has been in the works for a while. I hadn’t intended to post it now, but with Justine Larbalestier’s new post about the US cover of Liar, I’m going ahead with it.
When I see a new book with an awful cover, I always wonder how the author feels. A bad cover seems like a death knell for what might be a good book. (I don’t know if it means these titles have not succeeded, but none of the books I called the Duds of 2007 have been scheduled for paperback…)
But you never see the author out there complaining, right? A number of comments on a post at Editorial Anonymous asked why the author wasn’t speaking out – “I’m somewhat surprised that the author isn’t the least bit bothered.”
Picture this: You have a new book. You tried to influence the cover choice, but you only have so much influence. A catch-22, to be sure. You hate the cover but you want people to buy/read your book. You’re not going to jinx that are you?
The only thing you can do is this? Larbalestier says “It was designed by Danielle Delaney the genius responsible for the paperback cover of How To Ditch Your Fairy. Have I mentioned that’s my fave cover I’ve ever had?” Do you notice that she said THAT (referring to How To Ditch Your Fairy) was her favorite cover? She never says she loves this cover.
Originally, I planned to title this post “Authors LOVE Their Covers.” But I was always looking for one who didn’t…
Never found one really… Did Dakota Lane do this: Imaginary Gothic Lolita covers because she didn’t like her cover??? Her imaginary covers are not at all like what came out on the published book.

But here are a gallery of authors announcing cover art they love:

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (October 2009) – “In celebration of my birthday…”

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson (Simon & Schuster 2008 )
“In much happier news, I can share the cover of my fall book with you!!” – She doesn’t really comment, but she’s happy to share…

The Good Neighbors by Holly Black (Graphix 2008 )
“Hey, look what I found on Amazon! I am correcting the pages right now, so it probably shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to me, but still! It’s real!… My fingers itch to show you some interior art, because Ted is so fabulous, but I am forced to wait.”

The Unnameables by Emily Booraem (Harcourt 2008 )
“Here’s the gorgeous cover for The Unnameables, designed by Linda Lockowitz. I think Photoshop is involved, but I don’t know where the elements came from. Anyway, it’s very cool, and fits the book beautifully.”

The Journal of Curious Letters by James Dashner (Shadow Mountain 2008 )
“The artist’s name is Bryan Beus. He has officially joined the Dashner Dude’s Top Twenty Most Favored People List, bumping Abe Lincoln to Number 21. Also, major kudos go out to Richard Erickson and his incredible team at Shadow Mountain.”

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (Tor Teen 2008 )
“Tor Books’s brilliant Art Director Irene Gallo worked with designer Peter Lutjen to create the cover for the book — the best one I’ve had to date.” My comment: Too bad they didn’t use this one! I like it better than the one with the photo on it…

Gotcha! by Shelley Hrdlitschka (Orca 2008 )
“Seeing the cover art for my books is always such a thrill. The book suddenly becomes real. Until now it was just a story, a stack of manuscript pages, but now I can see that it really is going to become a book. And I especially like this cover. It is perfect. I have no input into what goes onto the covers of my book, so it’s always a relief when I like them.”

How to Ditch your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier (Bloomsbury September 2008 )
“You know what the most fabulous part of it is? (Other than the quote from Libba Bray2 ) My name is as big as the title. My name is bigger than it’s ever been! Oh, happy day!”

Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass (Little Brown October 2008 )
“A sneak peek of the cover for my next book, Every Soul a Star. It’s not coming out until September but I really love the cover and couldn’t wait to share it.”

The Morgue and Me by John C. Ford (Viking 2009)
“Why do I love it so?  Let me count the ways…”

Too Many White Girls

Posted in book covers, stock photos, trends on July 19, 2009 by Jacket Whys

With the discussion about Liar, I decided to do a very unscientific, informal roundup of who’s on the 2009 crop of book covers. I looked at about 775 children’s and YA book covers for books that have been released or will be released this year. 80% of them had people on them. A full 25% of all book covers had white girls pictured on them, and 10% had white boys. Only 2% of the titles I looked at had African American boys or girls pictured on the covers – a sad state of affairs. I can understand the outcry over the Liar cover.
With the caveat that I cannot possibly have seen everything that’s out there, and that for the most part, I have not included series books – here’s some of what I found:

Rock and the RiverBurn my heartMessed up

Black AngelsCity boyBlue Mountain

CashayGirlDog wh


There are lots of series specifically targeting African American teens, like Kimani Tru, and Bluford High, and they all have black teens on their covers. And most titles with 3 or more people on them are likely to include an African American in the group. But the dearth of black people on the year’s mainstream book covers is pretty appalling.

Side notes: I would have included Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith, but much like Liar, you really can’t say that the subject is African American. Having read the book, it is in keeping with the story – an important aspect is that the main character passes for white.
Also, there were a good number of new books that included “African American” in the LOC marc record, which fell into the no people on the cover category – Unsigned Hype by Mattison Booker, Morning in a Different Place by Mary McGuigan, Dope Sick by Walter Dean Myers, If I Grow Up by Todd Strasser – to name a few.

Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon (Aladdin): In 1968 Chicago, fourteen-year-old Sam Childs is caught in a conflict between his father’s nonviolent approach to seeking civil rights for African Americans and his older brother, who has joined the Black Panther Party.
Burn My Heart by Beverley Naidoo (Amistad): While the Mau Mau rebellion threatens the British settlers living in Kenya during the 1950s, Mathew and Mugo maintain their friendship, despite their different races, but during these tense times, a single act of betrayal could alter everything.
Messed Up by Janet Nichols Lynch (Holiday House): Fifteen-year-old RD is repeating the eighth grade, planning to have an easy year, but after his grandmother walks out her boyfriend is no longer able to care for him, which leaves RD to fend for himself while avoiding being caught. (LOC Subject: “Hispanic Americans”)
Black Angels by Linda Beatrice Brown (G. P. Putnam’s): Three Southern children, two black and one white, escape from their homes during the horrors of the Civil War and, after meeting in the woods, gradually come to rely on each other as they make their way slowly north, enduring hunger, fear, sickness, and constant danger, before arriving in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.
City Boy by Jan Michael (Clarion): In the southern African country of Malawi, after the AIDS-related deaths of both of his parents, a boy leaves his affluent life in the city to live in a rural village, sharing a one-roomed hut with his aunt, his cousins, and other orphans.
Blue Mountain Trouble by Martin Mordecai (Arthur A. Levine): After being saved from a disastrous landslide by an extraordinary goat that blocks their usual way to school, twins Pollyread and Jackson, living with their parents high in the mountains of Jamaica, find the strange goat reappearing at crucial intervals as their day-to-day life is changed by series of mysterious events involving the return of a local troublemaker and secrets from their family’s past.
Cashay by Margaret McMullan (Houghton Mifflin): When her world is turned upside down by her sister’s death, a mentor is assigned to fourteen-year-old Cashay to help her through her anger and grief. (LOC Subject: “Racially Mixed People”)
Girl Stays in the Picture by Melissa De La Cruz (Simon & Schuster): On a movie set in Saint Tropez, France, several teenaged members of the Hollywood elite come together in an explosion of scenes shot and reshot, friendships formed and cast aside, and romances begun and destroyed, all duly reported by paparazzi.
Dog Whisperer: The Rescue by Nicholas Edwards (Square Fish): Eleven-year-old Emily’s nightmares of drowning lead her to an injured dog near her family’s coastal Maine home, and as she nurses him back to health, she becomes aware that they have a strange psychic connection. (LOC Subject: “Racially Mixed People”)
Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis (Knopf): Teens Octavia and Tali learn about strength, independence, and courage when they are forced to take a car trip with their grandmother, who tells about growing up Black in 1940s Alabama and serving in Europe during World War II as a member of the Women’s Army Corps.
Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes (G. P. Putnam’s): Spunky third-grader Dyamonde Daniel misses her old neighborhood, but when she befriends a boy named Free, another new student at school, she finally starts to feel at home.
Hollywood & Maine by Alison Whittenberg (Delacorte): In 1976 Pennsylvania, middle-schooler Charmaine Upshaw contemplates a career as a model or actress while coping with boyfriend problems and the return of her uncle, a fugitive who cost her family $1,000 in bail money a year earlier.

Four fifths of book covers had people on them. A quarter of all book covers had white girls on them. A tenth had white boys. About a fiftieth had African Americans.

Double Suspense

Posted in book covers on July 15, 2009 by Jacket Whys

Okay, so I heard that this cover (Liar by Justine Larbalestier – Bloomsbury 10/2009) was controversial – but I haven’t heard why. I’m perplexed. Can’t figure it out for myself :-(
I like it. It’s quite striking. And I’m reading blog posts about it that have me dying to get my hands on a copy (beg readers not to give anything away, and boy does that whet the appetite).
Help me! If you know anything about the cover controversy, please post your info in the comments. Do respect the author’s plea – no spoilers.

Picture 1 copy

There’s a hint of the cover controversy here… Is that the gist of it?

Liar: Compulsive liar Micah promises to tell the truth after revealing that her boyfriend has been murdered. Age 14+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Crime Tape

Posted in book covers, book spines, color, symbols on July 13, 2009 by Jacket Whys

Crime tape seems to me like a perfect graphic image, and it’s surprising that  it’s not used more often.  The book covers below are the only ones I could track down, and three of the first four are from Simon & Schuster. Usually when I’ve put together a group like this, I find that all are from different publishers. So this is an unsual grouping on that count.
Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser (Simon & Schuster 2000) and Shooter by Walter Dean Myers (Amistad 2004) are similar in the orientation of the crime tape and the colors used. With these two, the crime tape says what crime tape usually says, and the title is separate. Both used red to make the title stand out.

Book Cover - Give a BoyBook Cover - Shooter

The Year of the Bomb by Ronald Kidd and Just Another Hero by Sharon M. Draper are both new this year and both from Simon & Schuster. These differ from the above two in that the title text is what appears on the tape.
People have talked about great book spines, and I’ve included the spines here, because they are really striking. I’ve had these two books sitting on a cart of books in my office, and my eye is drawn to them over and over again.

year of the bomb spine Book Cover - Year of the Bomb

just another hero spine Book Cover - Just Another Hero

Three of the above are about guns brought to school. The image makes sense for the subject.
I just have to add a peak at this adult title, The Years of Talking Dangerously by Geoffrey Nunberg (PublicAffairs 2009). Unlike the titles above, this is about language, not crime.

Book Cover - Years of Talking

Give a Boy a Gun: Events leading up to a night of terror at a high school dance are told from the point of view of various people involved. Ages . Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4.
Shooter: Written in the form of interviews, reports, and journal entries, the story of three troubled teenagers ends in a tragic school shooting. Ages . Reviews 1, 2, 3,
Year of the Bomb: In 1955 California, as “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” is filmed in their hometown, thirteen-year-old Arnie discovers a real enemy when he and three friends go against a young government agent determined to find communists at a neaby university or on the movie set. Jacket design by Lucy Ruth Cummins. Jacket illustrations by Matthew Laznicka. Ages 12+.
Just Another Hero: As Kofi, Arielle, Dana, November, and Jericho face personal challenges during their last year of high school, a misunderstood student brings a gun to class and demands to be taken seriously. Jacket design by Sonia Chaghatzbanian. Jacket photographs by Getty Images. Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2.
Years of Talking Dangerously: Adult. Reviews 1, 2.

Boots Quadruplet

Posted in book covers, double dips, stock photos on July 4, 2009 by Jacket Whys

Take a look at this amazing set of double dips, sent to me by Kerry from New Zealand (Thanks, Kerry!), a reader of this blog. The photographer who took this photo has apparently captured an iconic war image. What’s funny about the use of this image here, is that they look like World War I or II boots, and two of these books cover more recent wars. All except the Morpurgo book are published by the adult market. At least two of the three are recommended for teens.

xWar - from Amazon UK 0330433334Boots - In Country

Boots - Hiroshima JoeBoots - Beaufort

The cover of War: Stories of Conflict edited by Michael Morpurgo (from UK, apparently not in the US, Macmillan 2005) is a pretty straightforward use of the image. In Country by Bobbie Ann Mason (HarperCollins 2005, c1985), incidentally popular required reading for high school students, is a clear use of the Rule of Three. Hiroshima Joe by Martin Booth (Macmillan: Picador 2003, c1985) changes up the color of the photo by monochromizing it. And Beaufort by Ron Leshem (Delacorte 2008) intensifies the contrast and completely turns it upside-down. All except Hiroshima Joe, stay fairly true to the (probably) original colors in the photo.
Two of these are under the Macmillan umbrella, though one from the adult and one from the children’s market. And one available in the UK, but not in the US. So here’s the question. Is the use of an image tracked at least within a publisher and it’s houses? If so, are there rules of use?

War: Explores many aspects of war, featuring conflicts from the Crusades to 1970’s Beirut and the Falklands. (South Lanarkshire Council). Age: Teens. Reviews 1.
In Country: Vietnam War. Adult book, recommended for YAs by SLJ. Reviews 1, 2,. Censorship Attempt: Book Controversy at Delphi High (defeated).
Hiroshima Joe: World War II. Adult.
Beaufort: Set in Lebanon in 1999. Adult book, recommended for mature YAs by Booklist. Reviews 1, 2.

See No Evil

Posted in book covers, stock photos, trends on July 1, 2009 by Jacket Whys

I noticed a run of new face covers where the eyes are blocked out with a graphic (a strip of paper,  the illusion of a torn out section, a color block) which contains the title of the book. I’d collected three and I was watching, waiting to see if another one would come up.

This morning I read Elizabeth Bird’s Fuse #8 post pointing out the new covers for Julie Anne Peters Snob Squad books. I clicked on her link to Peters’ MySpace page and found a fourth. You may have noticed I like to have a nice block of four for my posts ;-)

This one’s a little older – King of the Lost and Found by John Lekich (Raincoast 2007). But the remaining three book jackets are new Band Geeked Out by Josie Bloss (Flux 2009), Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy (Harcourt 2009, c2007) and A Snitch in the Snob Squad by Julie Anne Peters (Little Brown 2010, c2001)

king of the lostband geeked

looking for jsnitch in the snob squad

When you consider how many ways a close up photo can be manipulated to give a particular impression, this is surely one you’d think of.  And when you look at the other new Snob Squad covers, you see two more to watch for: Speak no evil and…. smell no evil?

UPDATE: For more similar to this see another blogger’s post – Obscuring Women’s Faces.

King of the Lost and Found: Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3.
Band Geeked Out: As her senior year of high school nears the end, marching band member Ellie finds herself doubting her plans for the future when she meets a fascinating and sophisticated girl while taking a tour of a college out of state. Ages 12+. Reviews 1.
Looking for JJ: Seventeen-year-old Alice, released from prison with a new identity after serving six years for murdering a child, tries to keep her anonymity from the British tabloids, while haunted by memories of her past trauma. Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Snitch in the Snob Squad: Twelve-year-old Jenny and the other members of the Snob Squad suspect that one of them, or someone close to them, is behind the thefts at their school. Ages 8-12.