Simplicity Rules!

I ran across both of these new books online today and the contrast was outstanding enough to make me stop and think. Simplicity vs. intense busy-ness. Which works better?
Admittedly, my bias is the old cliche “less is more.” Sharon M. Draper‘s book, Out of My Mind (Atheneum 2010) is a peaceful blue with a nice complementary orange for a focus point. The simple image says a lot, though. Fish out of water… breaking free of things that bind you, etc. It usually irritates me when the author’s name is bigger than the title – but it works here. Draper’s name is subtle enough as not to distract. The white title attracts the eye if only because it’s white against so much blue. I like how “a novel” delineates the goldfish’s path out of the bowl. The bubbles add visual interest.
A Small Free Kiss in the Dark by Glenda Millard (Holiday House April 2010, Allen & Unwin 2009) – I don’t know why the Yiddish exclamation “OY VEY!” comes to mind – but OMG! Too much, too much, too much. And if that’s not enough, the strange font, outlined in white and squeezed into the layout, further complicates a cover that is already way too busy with text and mixed images. Maybe all this mishmash will draw kids? It’s only the plot summary here that might pull me in.

Out of My Mind: Considered by many to be mentally retarded, a brilliant, impatient fifth-grader with cerebral palsy discovers a technological device that will allow her to speak for the first time. Ages 10+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Reading Group Guide.
Small Free Kiss in the Dark: Skip, an eleven-year-old runaway, becomes friends with Billy, a homeless man, and together they flee a war-torn Australian city with six-year-old Max and camp out at a seaside amusement park, where they are joined by Tia, a fifteen-year-old ballerina, and her baby.  Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Teacher’s Guide. See the Australian cover.


7 Responses to “Simplicity Rules!”

  1. tanyakyi Says:

    I completely agree and if I were choosing a book to read, I would pick up Out of My Mind. But… the blue cover seems too adult to me. It looks like a literary novel, and not a book for ages ten and up.

    A Small Free Kiss in the Dark, on the other hand, screams preteen. (Hmmm… and now I’ve read the plot summary, I may have to check it out. Who can resist a runaway, a homeless man, a ballerina, and a baby?)

    • Jacket Whys Says:

      I almost agree with you about Out of My Mind – but… there’s something whimsical about a fish jumping out of a bowl that brings it back to the kid realm for me. This one however, looks very adult to me… go figure.

  2. Wow, am I a huge fan of goldfish on books. Cynthia Lord’s RULES is what OUT OF MY MIND reminds me of, which means I’d pick it up just because I loved that book. I don’t think it looks too adult at all – it looks… uncluttered. Like I hope someday my mind might be! Both books are evocative, just you get two different moods from them. One is definitely chaotic — and the plot sounds like it has all kinds of crazy in it. The other depicts someone who was in a fishbowl, and is now …out… in the air? Will they survive?

    Excellent comparison.

  3. I think the second cover will appeal to all those Ed Hardy fans out there. I also want to cover my eyes and say, “too much!!!!” Much in the same way I do when I see something in the vast Ed Hardy collection!

  4. You could almost see a kid thinking the title of the second book was THRILLS

  5. I agree with your conclusion – simple is better. But what’s amazing is the difference between the Australian and American covers of A Small Free Kiss in the Dark. Same story between those covers – so are the audiences in these two countries just radically different (and is the difference saying something to us about American marketing, teens, over-stimulation, or what?)

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