“Don’t Let the Cover Scare You”

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.

7 Responses to ““Don’t Let the Cover Scare You””

  1. This is terrific! Thanks! I love seeing these together like this with the annotations.


  2. Oh, eek. I have to say that Sights was an especially hard one for me to pick up, but it was well worth it.

    Poor book designers; their vision sometimes just does not match reality.

  3. As an artist who does the occasional e-cover, I’ve gotta say the whole ‘cover’ issue is a hot one! Often (in the e-pub industry), the author has a HUGE say in what goes on the ‘jacket’, and when you get a non-artist to play art director you can get, well, interesting results.

    I can’t speak for the major publishers, but e-publishing and small houses don’t pay for squat. Sometimes…you get what you pay for. You’d be better off having just fontwork on the cover, as opposed to a bad illustration. Unless that’s the point of the image, such as ‘Death By Eggplant’ up there. That one just made me smile! It felt deliberate, like a fun B-movie.

    Love the blog; keep up the good work!

  4. How about “Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception” by Maggie Stiefvater? Her “Shiver” is getting so much attention and praise this year, but I’m reading “Lament” right now and I love it. I bet it would have gotten way more attention if it’d had a better cover.

  5. The original cover of The Thief never made me want to read it – one of my coworkers chose it for a staff favorites display, thankfully, and that got me to read it. It’s not so much awful as simply boring and not indicative of the story. Even more terrible, though, is the original cover for The Queen of Attolia, with the enormous hand. Thank goodness things picked up with the series redesign when The King of Attolia came out.

    Oh, and I second notemily’s comments about Lament – I would never have picked it up it I hadn’t read a glowing review.

    I recently tried to replace an ancient, falling apart copy of Across Five Aprils, and I was disappointed with my two terrible options – that’s a classic that deserves a new look.

  6. Ugh, I hate the cover of The Thief! It looks like Jesus. Which I guess would be fine for another book, but not this one! I have to practically bribe kids to read it.

  7. You nailed it! I’ve always loved The Thief and hated the cover. The original covers for the sequels weren’t much better–belying the fact that The King of Attolia is one of the best books I’ve ever read in my life.

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