Best Covers of 2009 – Part 2
About a year ago, I attended a function at the University of Connecticut’s Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. There was an “art book librarian” there, who showed us some of the kinds of books she collects for the University. I had never heard of “art books” – meaning books that are art, not books about art.
In my first “Best of 2009” post, I talked about how e-book covers can never be quite the same as hardcopy books because of special printer effects. I got to thinking about the difference between “art books” and regular books with great design. It will be a sad thing for me, I think, if the book goes completely E. The art books I saw were amazing! But you had to be really careful if you wanted to touch them. They were expensive, so you probably wouldn’t own them. And their purpose was pretty specifically visual.
There’s something very satisfying about the combined experience of something graphically appealing that can also deliver something beyond the visual. I’m hoping books don’t become extinct. They’re so much fun to look at…
With that, I present you with another set of three, books with visual benefit beyond what the text delivers.
While the cover is mostly monochromatic, the girl’s red hair and pink/green highlights on her face add a pleasing warm glow. A pure visual treat.
As on some of the other choices I’ve made this year, the design doesn’t end at the cover. Take a look at the page that faces the title page. The frost effect is repeated again, even without the addition of colored inks, by an almost imperceptable printing of a frosty, swirly design on that page. Beautiful.
It seems as if most of the historical fiction – this takes place in 1684 – that is published now has to masquerade as something else. While this falls roughly in line with that trend, I don’t think this one is anachronistic. I’m thinking the ribbed cap was possible in the 17th century? Any historians out there?
The title treatment gives a genre hint, the face is mysterious, the cropping is good. Why doesn’t the publisher credit the designer?
I like the text treatment too. The very simple thin white all-cap font that glows a bit works well. And while there’s no special effect on the cover, I was delighted by the scaly endpapers, and another white on black title page (like on Monstrumologist in my first Best Books 2009 post). The dark green endpapers have a scale pattern pressed into the paper. Fun to look at, and a great tactile quality too.
Ice: A modern-day retelling of “East o’ the Sun, West o’ the Moon” in which eighteen-year-old Cassie learns that her grandmother’s fairy tale is true when a Polar Bear King comes to claim her for his bride and she must decide whether to go with him and save her long-lost mother, or continue helping her father with his research. Age 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
Crimson Cap: In 1684, wearing his father’s faded cap, eleven-year-old Pierre Talon joins explorer Rene-Robert Cavelier on an ill-fated expedition to seek the Mississippi River, but after the expedition falls apart Pierre, deathly ill, is taken in by Hasinai Indians. Includes historical facts. Age 10+. Reviews 1.
Rule of Claw: Ash and her friends live in a future where they are the only human teenagers left, but when Ash is kidnapped and becomes a pawn in a power struggle among the formidable Raptors who captured her, she begins to reconsider her own humanity. Age 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3.