Archive for the illustration Category

Defining Fishers

Posted in book covers, illustration, paperback changes, stock photos on July 25, 2010 by Jacket Whys

Still looking at ’90s covers (more specifically, 1997 covers), I came across this title by Margaret Peterson Haddix. I read this pre-Among the Hidden title, Leaving Fishers, when it was first released. I have no vivid memory of the book, however the original cover (left) fits with my emotional memory of the story of a young woman feeling alienated, swept up by people who seem sympathetic (a cult).
The first cover makes sense, and draws me in. The girl on the cover looks unhappy. You can tell she is feeling like an outsider. The only iffy thing here is audience. This cover seems pitched a little young.
The 1999 paperback cover (middle) … what does it say?

You can tell we’re moving into the photography era here, even though this cover was in the earlier days of all-photography all-the-time. Do you get a sense of the alienation here? Yeah right. She looks like she’s part of the brat pack. The cover is disingenuous and would, I think, draw in kids just to trick them about the content of the book.
The newer cover (2004) is certainly of our era. It says nothing. A girl with her eyes covered… she’s blind? (okay, figuratively – a little). Is there really a clue at all about the book’s content? Should there be?
The thing about illustration is that emotions can be brought into the final work so much more effectively. I think that’s a very difficult thing to do with patching stock photographs together – difficult, but no, not undoable…

Leaving Fishers (Simon & Schuster 1997): After joining her new friends in the religious group called Fishers of Men, Dorry finds herself immersed in a cult from which she must struggle to extricate herself.  Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3.

Zia Over Decades

Posted in book covers, illustration, paperback changes, people of color on July 13, 2010 by Jacket Whys

In my research, I came across this Scott O’Dell title, Zia (Houghton Mifflin 1976).
Cover #1 was the original cover, published in 1976. Cover #2 came out around 1981, cover #3, around 1995, and the 4th cover is upcoming – scheduled for release in January of next year.

Mulling this over… does it tell us anything about the evolution of cover design? The story is based on the true story of Juana Maria – the last surviving member of her tribe, who lived on San Nicolas Island, off the coast of southern California. One might expect her, then, to look like the Natives of that area. Which she does, on the 1976 cover.*
Six years later she looks much more European. The 1995 cover is pretty, but less focused on the character. It’s interesting that the photograph on the upcoming release looks very much like the illustration (by Ted Lewin) on the original edition. She’s lighter skinned, but it’s an amazing match in terms of her features.
An interesting group…

*I do not hold myself up as any kind of authority on any culture, so please take my opinion with a shovelful of salt… or so.

A Cryin’ Shame…

Posted in book covers, illustration on February 14, 2010 by Jacket Whys

One of the many art blogs I read led me to the Society of Illustrators 2010 Student Scholarship Competition today, where I got lost in taking a virtual trip through the show. Try it yourself, and you will feel sad, as I do, that we’ve gone all photography all the time (okay, not all the time, but most of it) for book covers. Oh to have some of these artists working at cover illustration.

Deliciously Creepy!

Posted in best book jackets, book covers, book designers, book spines, fonts, illustration on December 20, 2009 by Jacket Whys

2009 - Smith - Tentacles - spineI came across this cover online recently. It was an instant attention grabber and I ordered it ASAP. It went directly to my shortlist for best 10 of the year. The designer/ illustrator, Phil Falco has been added to my watch list. Turns out I was already a fan – just hadn’t connected the dots yet.
When I received the book, I wished the art was a little bit better, or maybe just reproduced better, or maybe just a little less muddy? The cover representation I’ve seen on a few websites is much brighter and bluer – and better – than it is on the actual book. And that’s why I’m featuring it here, but not on my top ten list (close!).
I think this will grab readers’ attention. I like the lighting. It’s mostly dark, but backlit part of the tentacle is a nice glowy red. I love the tentacle rising up from the bottom of the page and the sense of the water disturbance. The juxtaposition of title text with the composition is super – and it’s carried through the design of the inside of the book. I’m not sure if I risk serious copyright infringement by showing it here, so I won’t. But the title page is uniquely designed. The page is printed black, with the same tentacle art coming in from the left side. The suction cups and the title are the only thing that are light in color.
One of the pages preceding the first chapter has an illustration of a giant squid. And the contents page is really different, divided vertically by “Parts.” I know this description isn’t describing the design clearly enough – so find this book and take a look!
Had to show the spine as well. I think this one will show up on the shelf.

Tentacles by Roland Smith (Scholastic 2009): After the mysterious disappearance of their parents, Marty and Grace go to live with their scientist uncle and accompany him on, what soon becomes, an increasingly dangerous expedition to New Zealand to track a giant squid. Ages 9+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4. Sequel to: Cryptid Hunters.

Recognizable Style: David Frankland

Posted in book covers, book designers, illustration, paperback changes, recognizable style on November 17, 2009 by Jacket Whys

In my last post, I matched covers to a particular artist without knowing for sure it was the same artist. Thanks to Lisa Chellman, who identified the artist in the comments, I have now taken a tour through David Frankland’s work. I want to share some more of it here, because I know you will recognize many of these – and you can have the aha! moment that I had. It’s fun to have these all connected.
The style here is recognizable. But it seems there is enough difference from cover to cover to keep boredom from setting in.

I find the U.S. editions of Paul Bajoria’s series (below right) pretty unattractive. Too bad they didn’t have the British covers (left)…

Frankland has also done covers (UK) for some of Diana Wynne Jones’ books (Charmed Life, The Pinhoe Egg, for example) . They are also very different from the U.S. versions.

A Darkling Plain by Philip Reeve (EOS 2007) Hungry City Chronicles: While dealing with people from their past and treachery from unexpected sources, Tom, Hester, and Wren return to save the world.
Double Life by Justin Richards (Putnam 2005) Invisible Detective series: After finding a mysterious stone and an old casebook, fourteen-year-old Arthur finds himself remembering the 1936 adventures of a boy named Art who, under the identity of the Invisible Detective, works with three friends in London to solve the mystery of sinister puppets who are replacing real people.
The Cabinet of Wonders
by Marie Rutkoski (Farrar 2008): Twelve-year-old Petra, accompanied by her magical tin spider, goes to Prague hoping to retrieve the enchanted eyes the Prince of Bohemia took from her father, and is aided in her quest by a Roma boy and his sister.
Highway Cats
by Janet Taylor Lisle (Philomel 2008): A hard-bitten group of mangy highway cats is changed forever after the mysterious arrival of three kittens.
The Animals of Farthing Wood
by Colin Dann (Egmont 2007, c1979 – first published for the adult market?): The animals of Farthing Wood attempt to reach the safety of White Park after a fire breaks out in their woods.
The Whispering Road
by Livi Michael (Putnam 2005): In Victorian England, poverty-stricken, orphaned siblings Joe and Annie escape from the abusive farmer they work for and try to survive in Manchester, with help from a friendly tramp, a mysterious dog-woman, and a renegade printer who supports the rights of the poor.
The Printer’s Devil
by Paul Bajoria (Little Brown 2005): After printing the “Wanted” posters for some of London’s most notorious inhabitants, a printer’s boy is entangled, by a genuine convict, in a series of mistaken identities and events leading back to the boy’s own mysterious past.
The God of Mischief
by Paul Bajoria (Little Brown 2007, c2005): The twins, Mog and Nick have to unearth the secrets of their past to escape the dangers they face in their present life.

Recognizable Style

Posted in book covers, illustration on February 5, 2009 by Jacket Whys

Reuse of images or image features is not the province of stock photography alone. Even illustrators reuse elements of their work. The faces on these three book covers (all by Nicoletta Ceccioli) are almost identical. I thought maybe that was just a facial pose/image that this illustrator always used, but I looked through the books she showcases on her website  and they don’t all have quite the same similarity – though her style is easy to spot. Before I consciously realized that these were all done by the same illustrator, I kept mistaking one for the other – The Joy of Spooking: Fiendish Deeds by P. J. Bracegirdle (McElderry 2008) and The Remarkable & Very True Story of Lucy & Snowcap by H. M. Bouwman (Cavendish 2008) anyway. The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum by Kate Bernheimer (Schwartz & Wade 2008) is a picture book, so it’s harder to mix it up with the other two.
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castle2Fiendish Deeds: As eleven-year-old Joy Wells, proud resident of the nearly-abandoned town of Spooking, tries to stop construction of a water park in a bog she believes is home to a monster and the setting of her favorite horror story, a man with his own mysterious connection to Spooking will do anything to stop her. Age 8-12. Reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4.
Lucy & Snowcap: In 1788, thirteen years after English convicts are shipwrecked on the magical islands of Tathenland, two twelve-year-old girls, one a native Colay, the other the child-governor of the English, set out on a journey to stop the treachery from which both peoples are suffering. Age 10+. Reviews: 1, 2, 3.
Girl in the Castle: Children come to visit a little girl who lives all alone inside a castle that is housed inside of a museum. Age [no one seems to agree on this]. Reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4.


Posted in book covers, illustration on December 31, 2008 by Jacket Whys

Here’s something I noticed recently, and have been looking out for: Take the art from the cover of an original edition (usually the hardcover), telescope in on an interesting segment of the art, and make it the cover for the paperback. Add a newer, bolder title font and voila! In the cases of the first three pairs here, The Executioner’s Daughter by Laura E. Williams (Henry Holt 2000), The Riddle by Alison Croggon (Candlewick 2006) and Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop (Wendy Lamb 2006), it’s an improvement. Each of these paperbacks is more interesting (to me) than its hardcover predecessor.

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On Executioner’s Daughter, the font really helps. This bolder font seems more appropos of the subject. Somehow the fanciness of the title on the hardcover version seems ill-fitting the subject.

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On The Riddle, it surprises me that I like the paperback better, because it’s very much in the half-face/three-quarter face tradition that people are mostly tired of. But the intent look on the face makes it work.

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And I think the iconic industrial revolution era photo on Counting on Grace makes much more of an impact full on, than it does framed – even though the frame echoes the photo.
Not so successful, is Freedom Beyond the Sea by Waldtraut Lewin (Delacorte 2001), where the image is zoomed in and flipped. On this one, the seascape adds too much to leave it out. It supports the title idea of “beyond the sea” and it works. On the paperback, not only is the image cropped, but it’s cramped by the vertical banner that holds the title.

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Executioner’s Daughter: Thirteen-year-old Lily, daughter of the town’s executioner living in fifteenth-century Europe, decides whether to fight against her destiny or to rise above her fate. Ages 10-14.
Riddle: The further translation of a manuscript from the lost civilization of Edil-Amarandah which chronicles the experiences of sixteen-year-old Maerad, a gifted Bard, as she seeks the answer to the Riddle of the Treesong and continues to battle the Dark forces. Ages 12+.
Counting on Grace: It’s 1910 in Pownal, Vermont. At 12 Grace and her best friend Arthur must go to work in the mill, helping their mothers work the looms. Together Grace and Arthur write a secret letter to the Child Labor Board about underage children working in the mill. A few weeks later, Lewis Hine, a famous reformer arrives undercover to gather evidence. Grace meets him and appears in some of his photographs, changing her life forever. Ages 8-12.
Freedom Beyond the Sea: To escape the Inquisition, Esther Marchadi, the sixteen-year-old daughter of a murdered Jewish rabbi, disguises herself as a boy and joins the crew of Christopher Columbus’s “Santa Maria.” Grades 5-9.

There’s a Reason…

Posted in book covers, book designers, illustration on December 14, 2008 by Jacket Whys

… I just can’t imagine what it is. Below are the hardcover (left) and paperback (right) covers of Lights, Camera, Amalee by Dar Williams (Scholastic 2006). Note the differences to the central figure: instead of blue rolled up pants, she now has longer camouflage-y pants with lots of pockets – her shirt changed from green to orange…
Other than that the layout is almost identical. The cropping of the art is slightly different The fonts are changed, the background is changed from a top-to-bottom green-to-white gradation, to an outside-to-inside blue-to-white gradation. But the overall look is too similar for the designer motivation to be obvious.
Minor changes from hardcover to paperback always mystify me. Were there lots of letters from readers that said the artist got the character wrong? The changes are so subtle, it hardly seems worth the alteration – unless there was a glaring faux-pas in matching the cover characterizations to their characters.

Dar Williams is an author whom I know more as a singer/songwriter – have enjoyed her music at a few folk festivals.

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Lights, Camera, Amalee: When seventh-grader Amalee uses an inheritance to make a movie about endangered species, she discovers a link with the mother she never knew. Grades 4-7.

Alternate Giver

Posted in book covers, illustration on May 2, 2008 by Jacket Whys

A quick entry. There has always been a lot of talk about the cover of Lois Lowry’s The Giver (). The rumor was that Lowry insisted the old man image be on the cover. A post on the Girls Who Draw blog linked to an interesting alternate cover drawing/design (you’ll have to go to the post to see it, and do check out her senior thesis for others!). There’s also an alternate jacket to Brave New World – one that, unlike The Giver, has had lots of different jacket art over the years.
I’ve been reading some articles about book covers (this will come up in future posts), many of which have discussed jacket art as advertising, as have I in several of my posts. Would this alternate cover sell more copies of The Giver? Or does it matter when it is a book that has won major awards?
UPDATE: Found The Giver in Vietnamese on Lois Lowry’s blog – see below]

ANOTHER UPDATE: I just saw the cover on the right – in English – in a bookstore in Connecticut!


Posted in book covers, illustration on April 27, 2008 by Jacket Whys

I just stumbled across this book due out in June, Nurk by Ursula Vernon (Harcourt). There is something about the cover drawing that I find incredibly appealing… Anthropomorphic animals don’t always get me. But this little crew does.
I did some looking around and couldn’t find much – the author is also the illustrator. I assume it will be an illustrated book – but not a picture book. The target age is 8-12.
You can see more of Vernon’s artwork here and here (I love this fish). Great stuff! And see what appears to be the beginnings of her Nurk idea in this drawing dated 2002.

Nurk: Nurk, a sort-of brave shrew, packs up a few pairs of clean socks and sails off on an accidental adventure, guided by wisdom found in the journal of his famously brave and fierce grandmother, Lady Surka the warrior shrew.

UPDATE (8/12/08): Here’s an interesting note on book covers. I don’t usually read this kind of book (animal fantasy), but I was so charmed by the cover, that I read this one. I was equally charmed by the story and the writing style, and happened to be on the Quicklists Committee (Association for Library Service to Children – ALSC). We were working on a list for Oprah’s new Kids Reading List, recommending new books in several age categories. I contributed this title, and VOILA! this book is now recommended on the Oprah site. Just goes to show you how a book cover is the first step in capturing readers.