Archive for the trends Category

Whitewashing Article

Posted in book covers, controversy, people of color, stock photos, symbols, trends on June 12, 2010 by Jacket Whys

Tanita Davis, author of Mare’s War has a great article, “Reflected Faces“, up on Hunger Mountain: the VCFA Journal of the Arts. In it she says:

It still seems as if young people with brown skin are acceptable to ignore, at least in the marketing departments where the Powers That Be have determined that Brown doesn’t equal Buy… This may seem unimportant—at least young adults of color are included in contemporary YA literature. They’re IN the books, and so if the nonwhite characters don’t make it to the cover as often, at least there are nonwhite characters, right? Shouldn’t that be sufficient when Caucasians comprise two thirds of the American population?

I’m working on a post comparing POC coverage ten or twenty years ago, with today. It’s lots of background work, so stay tuned – it’ll be up sometime!

Oh, and here’s the other article in a section they’re calling “Flipside“, “Teens Do Judge a Book by the Cover” by Mitali Perkins (in the same issue of the same journal). She says:

Get most faces OFF the covers of young adult novels.

Hear, hear! (and see my next post)



Posted in book covers, stock photos, trends on May 23, 2010 by Jacket Whys

Many have commented on the “face cover.” Recently I’ve noticed some covers where one face is just not enough. Two faces – or more precisely, parts of two faces – are squeezed into the confines of a book jacket. It means that the two faces must be very close together. Most here seem to be moments of intimacy – Kiss Me Kill Me by Lauren Henderson (Delacorte 2008), Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols (MTV Books 2009), Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala (HarperTeen 2010), Heartbreak River (2009) and Winter Longing (2010) by Tricia Mills (Razorbill).
In my circles of friends and family, we’ve had several discussions about the kinds of photos that teens like to post on their Facebook pages. They are often like the pictures I see here – particularly on My Invented Life by Lauren Bjorkman (Henry Holt 2009). There is a physical closeness in photos that people of this generation are snapping, that people of my generation might have felt uncomfortable with.
So I wonder how these book covers fare with their target audience. I’m guessing they work well with the teen female audience.


Kiss Me Kill Me: Longing to be part of the in-crowd at her exclusive London school, orphaned, sixteen-year-old Scarlett, a trained gymnast, eagerly accepts an invitation to a party whose disastrous outcome changes her life forever. Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Going Too Far: Forced to spend spring break in a Birmingham, Alabama, suburb riding along with an attractive rookie police officer on the night shift, rebellious seventeen-year-old Meg finds herself falling unexpectedly in love. Ages 12+. Reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Tell Me a Secret: Seventeen-year-old Rand’s unexpected pregnancy leads her on a path to unravel the mystery of her sister’s death and face her own more hopeful future. Ages 14+. Reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4.
My Invented Life: During rehearsals for Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” sixteen-year-old Roz, jealous of her cheerleader sister’s acting skills and heartthrob boyfriend, invents a new identity, with unexpected results. Ages 14+. Reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Heartbreak River: When her father dies while whitewater rafting, sixteen-year-old Alex feels responsible, but when tragedy strikes again she must face her deepest fears in order to reclaim her love of the Colorado river where she grew up–and of the boy she grew up with. Ages 14+. Reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Winter Longing: Tundra, Alaska, high school senior Winter learns about love, loss, and starting over when her boyfriend, who has been her best friend since second grade, is killed in a plane crash the day after they declared their love for each other. Ages 14+. Reviews: 1, 2.

Before Monarchs, Blue Morphos

Posted in book covers, color, symbols, trends on April 23, 2010 by Jacket Whys

Travis at 100 Scope Notes has posted new covers with monarch butterflies on them. Before the monarchs, there was a spate of book covers depicting the Blue Morpho (or some other kind of blue) butterfly. With photo manipulation, who can tell for sure these days. Maybe these are just monarchs colored blue. But they’re pretty stunning! The books: The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson (Henry Holt 2008), Fate by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Delacorte 2008), Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr (Bowen Press 2009), The Secret Rites of Social Butterflies by Lizabeth Zindel (Viking 2008), Philippa Fisher and the Dream-Maker’s Daughter by Liz Kessler (Candlewick 2009) and Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu (Houghton Mifflin 2008, c2005). Just as you would expect, books with butterflies on them tend to be fantasy. They include fairies and magic, etc., though Jenna Fox is science fiction, so it’s not a perfect rule.
I went looking for online information about blue butterflies and was distressed to find that most of what’s out there on the internet is about blue butterflies made into jewelry, preserved as wall art, and even a song called “Blue Morpho” played on a panflute that looks like it has blue morpho wings pasted on it? :-( Me, I’d rather see this beautiful creature alive!

Adoration of Jenna: In the not-too-distant future, when biotechnological advances have made synthetic bodies and brains possible but illegal, a seventeen-year-old girl, recovering from a serious accident and suffering from memory lapses, learns a startling secret about her existence. Ages 14+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Fate: High school senior Bailey Morgan must chose between the mortal world and the otherworldly Nexus, where each night, as the third Fate, she weaves the web of life. Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Fragile Eternity: Aislinn and Seth struggle with the unforeseen consequences of Aislinn’s transformation from mortal girl to faery queen as the world teeters on the brink of cataclysmic violence. Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Secret Rites: Sixteen-year-old Maggie’s fears about making friends as an incoming senior at an exclusive New York City girls school are allayed when she is invited to join an elite secret society devoted to eavesdropping and recording the “truth” about students and faculty. Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Philippa Fisher: Twelve-year-old Philippa gets caught up in unraveling the mystery of a dream-catcher that threatens the life of her fairy friend Daisy and the happiness of her human friend Robyn, who is grieving over her mother’s death. Ages 8-12. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Zahrah the Windseeker: Zahrah, a timid thirteen-year-old girl, undertakes a dangerous quest into the Forbidden Greeny Jungle to seek the antidote for her best friend after he is bitten by a snake, and finds knowledge, courage, and hidden powers along the way. Ages 10+. Reviews 1, 2, 3.

Trees & Climbers

Posted in book covers, trends on March 22, 2010 by Jacket Whys

I don’t have much to say, other than since I love trees, this is a set I really enjoy. And do you see how I arranged the top row? Kind of like my previous post [grin].
Here are:  Breathing by Cheryl Renee Herbsman (Viking 2009),  A Very Fine Line by Julie Johnston (Tundra 2006), Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur (Wendy Lamb 2009), Out of the Shadows by Sarah Singleton (Clarion 2008), Eli the Good by Silas House (Candlewick 2009) and Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls (Scholastic 2008).

Breathing: With a new boyfriend, asthma attacks that come when least expected, and a pesky younger brother, fifteen-year-old Savannah’s summer vacation takes many unexpected twists and turns. Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Very Fine Line: In the small town of Kempton, Ontario, in 1941, thirteen-year-old Rosalind knows that she has strong visual memories of moments in her past. But when an aunt informs her that as the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, she can also see glimpses of the future, she balks and tries desperately to deny her gift and her identity until her mother hires a young male tutor who arouses tender feelings in Rosalind for the first time. Ages 10-14. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Love, Aubrey: While living with her Gram in Vermont, eleven-year-old Aubrey writes letters as a way of dealing with losing her father and sister in a car accident, and then being abandoned by her grief-stricken mother.Ages 9-14. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Out of the Shadows: In 1586 England, Elizabeth, whose family is hiding a Catholic priest from Protestant reformers, and Isabella, a girl of her own age who was similarly sheltered by “faery” folk 300 years earlier when Catholics accused Isabella’s mother of witchcraft, work together to keep the persecutors away. Ages 10-14. Reviews 1, 2, 3. ( UK cover entitled Heretic, and the image used for it. Other books using this image: 1, 2.)
Eli the Good: In the summer of 1976, ten-year-old Eli Book’s excitement over Bicentennial celebrations is tempered by his father’s flashbacks to the Vietnam War and other family problems, as well as concern about his tough but troubled best friend, Edie. Ages 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Ways to Live Forever: Eleven-year-old Sam McQueen, who has leukemia, writes a book during the last three months of his life, in which he tells about what he would like to accomplish, how he feels, and things that have happened to him. Ages 9+. Reviews 1, 2. (LOVE the UK cover)

New to Me

Posted in book covers, book designers, color, fonts, stock photos, trends on March 18, 2010 by Jacket Whys

An author/publisher asking for cover design input from you before making a final decision… hmmm. I wonder if we’ll begin to see more of this as more and more bloggers and reviewers talk about the importance of cover design. Here’s the arc cover of The Duff by Kody Keplinger (Little, Brown 2010). The comments here are pretty interesting if you read through them all (obviously people like getting a chance to comment ahead of publication).

Duff: Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper starts sleeping with Wesley Rush, a notorious womanizer who disgusts her, in order to distract her from her personal problems, and to her surprise, the two of them find they have a lot in common and are able to help each other find more productive ways to deal with their difficulties. Age 12+.

Perkins’ Poll and AIYLA

Posted in book covers, trends on February 6, 2010 by Jacket Whys

I was wondering what Mitali Perkins’ PoC Faces on Book Covers poll was going to find. Here it is. Not surprising.

I’ve been thinking about something related to Perkins’ poll, but only tangentially related to book covers… The  American Indian Youth Literature Awards for 2010 were announced at ALA Midwinter. I know Debbie Reese has been a voice for representation of Native Americans in children’s literature and she may have written something about this (I haven’t seen it). What I notice each time the AIYL Awards are announced is that they can be hard to get because they are published by very specialized presses often not easily available through the regular library sources. My comment is not meant to detract from the work of any small press. But I wonder if it is a phenomenon of this particular award? Or is it just that there are so few books published by mainstream publishers? For example – if you look at the Coretta Scott King Awards, Pura Belpre Awards or the Asian-Pacific American Literature Awards– it’s mostly mainstream publishing. With all the downside of publishing PoC, is it worst for American Indians?

Here’s the 2010 YA winner of the American Indian Youth Literature Awards, published by a Hawaiian press that appears to be run by a school system (the website says “a division of the Kamehameha School System“). The book does not appear in the Library of Congress Catalog, and little information can be found at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

Here’s where I’ll get my cover reference in. Blue seems to work very well on book covers. This one is very soothing. The whale shape is attractive and reminds me of the artistic style of the tribes of the Northwest. The title text is not exciting – a larger and swirlier font could work well. It’s very formal-looking. But perhaps this is what best suits the text.
I’m not sure the cover of Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me by Lurline Wailana McGregor (Kamehameha Publishing 2008) will attract teens – but it could. I’ll be purchasing this for our teen collection, and it’ll be one of the books I’ll read this year.
Between the Deep Blue Sea and Me: Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4.

Hide Me, Quick!

Posted in book covers, double dips, stock photos, trends on November 29, 2009 by Jacket Whys

When I was three years old, my dad took me trick-or-treating for the first time. I loved candy. Even so (the story goes), when I got home I dumped all my candy on the rug and separated it into piles, like with like. I couldn’t eat it until it was all sorted out.
This may have been the first hint that I would ultimately end up being a librarian. I loved categorizing and sorting things. Couldn’t play with them (or eat them) until they were in their proper order.
I’m guessing this is the same compulsion that pushes me to categorize book covers. The brain is a mysterious organ.
So I present you with another set – another mini-trend. It is a sly way to do the partial face thing – make the face unrecognizable by hiding a part of it behind a book (or a notebook, or a letter). The books: Sucks To Be Me by Kimberly Pauley (Wizards of the Coast 2008), The Rule of Won by Stefan Petrucha (Walker 2008), Does This Book Make Me Look Fat? edited by Marissa Walsh (Clarion 2008), and You’ve Got Blackmail by Rachel Wright (Putnam 2009).

I rarely see a book review blogger comment much on the cover, but a 20-something reviewer of Rule of Won had this to say: “I’ve always made a concerted effort to not judge books based on their jacket art, but I’m ashamed to admit that the cover of The Rule of Won is so uninspiring that I just couldn’t help it.” This reviewer was turned off by the brown-ness of the cover but is “happy to report that the contents of the novel are more appealing than falling in a puddle of sloshy mud.” (My advice to the reviewer: No need to be ashamed. Everyone does it…).

For some reason, whenever I pick out a composition that is used on teen book covers, I often find it used on books that refer to teens as well  – parenting books usually, but in this case, a book about writing for them. The stock photo here is the same as the one used on Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?

Sucks to Be Me: When sixteen-year-old Mina is forced to take a class to help her decide whether or not to become a vampire like her parents, she also faces a choice between her life-long best friend and the boy she has a crush on versus new friends and possible boyfriends in her mandatory “vampire lessons.” Age 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Book Trailer. Interview with the author 1, 2.
Rule of Won: Caleb Dunne, the quintessential slacker, is pressured by his girlfriend to join a high school club based on The Rule of Won, which promises to fulfill members’ every “crave,” but when nonbelievers start being ostracized and even hurt, Caleb must act. Age 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Author interview.
Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?: Short stories by popular teen authors. Age 12+. Reviews 1, 2, 3.
You’ve Got Blackmail: When she discovers that her loathsome English teacher is being threatened by an unknown blackmailer, Loz gets caught up in the mystery, with consequences both comical and truly dangerous. Age 12+. Reviews 1, 2.
Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks (Sourcebooks 2009): “Everything you need to know from crafting the idea to landing a publishing deal.” Reviews 1, 2.