Archive for October, 2009

Am I missing something?

Posted in book covers, people of color on October 22, 2009 by Jacket Whys

My paperback copy of Jerry Spinelli‘s Smiles to Go (Joanna Cotler 2008) came today.  See below – hardcover’s on the left, paperback on the right:

Spinelli - Smiles to GoSpinelli - Smiles to Go pbk

So… why? It’s not that I think the hardcover is spectacular or anything. I’m just not thinking this plain blue cover is going to grab anyone, let alone a teen. They’re both HarperCollins, so I don’t think it’s a matter of rights. I can’t even imagine the discussion behind this switch…

Smiles to Go: Will Tuppence’s life has always been ruled by science and common sense but in ninth grade, shaken up by the discovery that protons decay, he begins to see the entire world differently and gains new perspective on his relationships with his little sister and two closest friends. Ages 10+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4.

One Tiny Hand

Posted in book covers on October 16, 2009 by Jacket Whys

Almond - Raven Summer I’ve run across this several times now, and each time I linger over it, admiring… I adore this black & white photo. The use of red type with black & white, or sepia is usually stunning. Love this cover.
I do wonder, however, if it will have the same effect with teens. Hard to say – but it seems that my attraction to the cover has to do with life experience. The image of a tiny hand within a larger one has personal resonance. I am a parent after all… can this read the same to one who hasn’t been there yet?

Raven Summer by David Almond (Delacorte, November 2009): Led to an abandoned baby by a Raven, fourteen-year-old Liam seems fated to meet two foster children who have experienced the world’s violence in very different ways as he struggles to understand war, family problems, and friends who grow apart. Age 12+. Reviews: 1.

Book Covers Change Lives

Posted in book covers, controversy on October 12, 2009 by Jacket Whys

A librarian who came into my workplace recently told me about this story that she had heard on NPR’s Story Corps. It’s a day off (Columbus Day) and I finally found the time to listen to the story.
From the NPR transcriptNeal remembers it being ‘risque — a drawing of a woman who appeared to be wearing something that was basically see-through. But the symbolism was really great for me at that age of 16.'”
I went looking around the internet for that cover that helped to morph one troubled African American teenager into a judge – and the covers I found are shown below. The book was Frank Yerby‘s 1955 historical novel, The Treasure of Pleasant Valley (Dial). None of these covers quite match Neal’s description. But maybe we get the idea.
When I was a teen, my reading friends and I loved Fairoaks (1957). I sure don’t remember thinking/knowing that he was an African American author – the first, noted by this Frank Yerby encyclopedia article, to “to write a best-selling novel and to have a book purchased by a Hollywood studio for a film adaptation.”
It reminds me of conversation around the blogs, about the Liar controversy. You sure can’t tell from these covers that the author is African American. We just haven’t far enough…

Yerby - Treasure of Pleasant Valley 3Yerby - Treasure of Pleasant Valley 2

Yerby - Treasure of Pleasant ValleyYerby - Treasure of Pleasant Valley 4

Treasure of Pleasant Valley: Here’s a blurb from Jet Magazine (November 2, 1955 page 46), where the book was featured as “Book of the Week
“When young South Carolina-born Bruce Harkness walked into a San Francisco saloon in the daring days of the Gold Rush, his pulse pounded at the sight of the costumes worn by pretty waitresses. The fronts were full, ruffled skirts falling below the knees. ‘But the backs of the costume,’ Bruce observed, ‘was something else again: the skirts, seen from the rear were merely aprons, cut well above the hips, so that, since the girls were also required to wear black silk stockings held up by a garter belt, and absolutely nothing else, the effect when they wheeled smartly about and marched away after taking an order was a trifle startling.’
“In The Treasure of Pleasant Valley historical novelist Frank Yerby turns to the California of the 1840s to tell the story of the young southern adventurer, Bruce Harkness, in a world where men are driven mad by the greed of gold and the scarcity of women. But in this land of lawlessness Bruce’s life took a new turn when he went to a stream for a drink of water and saw the lovely Juana ‘glistening like a golden statue of a tribal goddess’ as she stood undraped in the water.
“Tormented by the love that he later held for her, Bruce takes flight from the gold fields upon learning that she is the wife of the reckless Pepe de Cordoba, who had become his companion. Finding himself hopelessly ensnared by Juana’s love, he returns to her in one of the most turbulent climaxes Yerby has ever written.
“Like his first nine historical novels, The Treasure of Pleasant Valley is destined to become the 20th best-seller in Yerby’s incredible career as an author. R.E.J”

Scary Covers 2

Posted in book covers, worst book jackets on October 6, 2009 by Jacket Whys

More covers from “Don’t Let the Cover Scare You.” I loved The Canning Season by Polly Horvath (Farrar 2003). It was so offbeat, so different. Definitely YA with the mother beheading herself (for real!). My complaint with the cover, back when it first came out, was that it looked too young for the content. The submitter of this cover said “I thought the book was incredibly fun to read, and even with good salesmanship, I can’t get my kids to read it because of the cover.” And it gets a double whammy with the title – “I can’t think of a topic less attractive to teens than home canning,” said another YALSA-BKer.
The publishers must have been happy with it, because they used it again on the paperback. Too bad. Dear FSG: How about a new cover for The Canning Season??
I totally agree on Alice on the Outside by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Atheneum 1999). I always thought this illustration had to be one of the most awkward I’d seen. And… if the girl looks too goofy it may repel readers. Again, publisher decided to stick with it for the paperback. Maybe in reprints they’ll mend their ways ;-)
I’m not sure I agree about A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt (Wendy Lamb 2006). I don’t mind this cover, however, this one was changed for the paperback. And I’ll agree that this paperback cover is more likely to attract teens.
Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden (Houghton 1995 this is the original cover) has been through many cover changes. The original isn’t bad so much as it is indistinct. I’m not sure any of the paperbacks are all that much better.

Horvath - Canning SeasonNaylor - Alice on the Outside

Reinhardt - Brief ChapterMarsden - Tomorrow When the War

Some other covers, some UK, for Tomorrow… and the paperback for A Brief Chapter.
Marsden - Tomorrow UK 200Marsden - Tomorrow UK pbkMarsden - Tomorrow x

Marsden - Tomorrow pbkMarsden - Tomorrow AUReinhardt - Brief Chapter new

Canning Season: Thirteen-year-old Ratchet spends a summer in Maine with her eccentric great-aunts Tilly and Penpen, hearing strange stories from the past and encountering a variety of unusual and colorful characters.
Alice on the Outside: Eighth-grader Alice has lots of questions about sex, relationships, prejudice, and change.
Brief Chapter: Sixteen-year-old atheist Simone Turner-Bloom’s life changes in unexpected ways when her parents convince her to make contact with her biological mother, an agnostic from a Jewish family who is losing her battle with cancer.
Tomorrow, When the War Began: Seven Australian teenagers return from a camping trip in the bush to discover that their country has been invaded and they must hide to stay alive.

“Don’t Let the Cover Scare You”

Posted in book covers, worst book jackets on October 6, 2009 by Jacket Whys

There’s a new thread on YALSA-BK that I can’t resist. The originator of the thread is planning a display of good books with horrible covers (see some of mine here). What better way to follow the thread than to display the covers on this blog? Here are the earliest entries: Death by Eggplant by Susan O’Keefe (Roaring Brook 2004 – getting a new chance! – Square Fish paperback coming out in January 2010), Who’s Buried in the Garden by Ray Villareal (Pinata 2009), The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (Greenwillow 1996) and Sights by Susanna Vance (Delacorte 2001).

OKeefe - Death by EggplantVillareal - Who's Buried

Turner - ThiefVance - Sights

This kind of discussion always, for me, highlights the broad range of taste we have for book cover art (I always liked the cover of The Thief…). Keep watching – more to come!

Death by Eggplant: Eighth-grader Bertie Hooks has to keep his dream of becoming a world-class chef a secret, especially from his mortal enemy, Nick Dekker, and when they both get “flour-sack babies” to take care of for a week, things become even more complicated for Bertie.
Who’s Buried in the Garden: Even though he knows his best friend Artie is a liar, when the coincidences start to add up, seventh-grader Joshua starts to believe that there might be merit to his friend’s idea of a body buried in the neighbor’s yard.
Thief: Gen flaunts his ingenuity as a thief and relishes the adventure which takes him to a remote temple of the gods where he will attempt to steal a precious stone.
Sights: Despite years of abuse at the hands of her drunken father, Baby Girl has always believed that she was special, partly because of her “gift” of seeing the future, until she and her mother set out to begin a new life on their own.