Archive for the worst book jackets Category

Simplicity Rules!

Posted in book covers, fonts, worst book jackets on March 10, 2010 by Jacket Whys

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.

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Scary Covers 2

Posted in book covers, worst book jackets on October 6, 2009 by Jacket Whys

More covers from “Don’t Let the Cover Scare You.” I loved The Canning Season by Polly Horvath (Farrar 2003). It was so offbeat, so different. Definitely YA with the mother beheading herself (for real!). My complaint with the cover, back when it first came out, was that it looked too young for the content. The submitter of this cover said “I thought the book was incredibly fun to read, and even with good salesmanship, I can’t get my kids to read it because of the cover.” And it gets a double whammy with the title – “I can’t think of a topic less attractive to teens than home canning,” said another YALSA-BKer.
The publishers must have been happy with it, because they used it again on the paperback. Too bad. Dear FSG: How about a new cover for The Canning Season??
I totally agree on Alice on the Outside by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Atheneum 1999). I always thought this illustration had to be one of the most awkward I’d seen. And… if the girl looks too goofy it may repel readers. Again, publisher decided to stick with it for the paperback. Maybe in reprints they’ll mend their ways ;-)
I’m not sure I agree about A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt (Wendy Lamb 2006). I don’t mind this cover, however, this one was changed for the paperback. And I’ll agree that this paperback cover is more likely to attract teens.
Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden (Houghton 1995 this is the original cover) has been through many cover changes. The original isn’t bad so much as it is indistinct. I’m not sure any of the paperbacks are all that much better.

Horvath - Canning SeasonNaylor - Alice on the Outside

Reinhardt - Brief ChapterMarsden - Tomorrow When the War

Some other covers, some UK, for Tomorrow… and the paperback for A Brief Chapter.
Marsden - Tomorrow UK 200Marsden - Tomorrow UK pbkMarsden - Tomorrow x

Marsden - Tomorrow pbkMarsden - Tomorrow AUReinhardt - Brief Chapter new

Canning Season: Thirteen-year-old Ratchet spends a summer in Maine with her eccentric great-aunts Tilly and Penpen, hearing strange stories from the past and encountering a variety of unusual and colorful characters.
Alice on the Outside: Eighth-grader Alice has lots of questions about sex, relationships, prejudice, and change.
Brief Chapter: Sixteen-year-old atheist Simone Turner-Bloom’s life changes in unexpected ways when her parents convince her to make contact with her biological mother, an agnostic from a Jewish family who is losing her battle with cancer.
Tomorrow, When the War Began: Seven Australian teenagers return from a camping trip in the bush to discover that their country has been invaded and they must hide to stay alive.

“Don’t Let the Cover Scare You”

Posted in book covers, worst book jackets on October 6, 2009 by Jacket Whys

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.

“Golden Fuse Awards” 2007

Posted in best book jackets, book covers, worst book jackets on April 15, 2008 by Jacket Whys

For a different take on the best and worst (and a few other categories) book jackets of 2007, check out the Golden Fuse Awards on the School Library Journal website.
Different picks than I chose for my 10 Best of 2007 (Part 1, Part 2, and Final 4). We overlap on the duds though. I’m guessing that Ferret Island will come out in paperback with giant ferrets on the jacket…. ;-)

The Duds

Posted in book covers, worst book jackets on December 21, 2007 by Jacket Whys

Before identifying duds, I feel I should acknowledge that this is just one person’s opinion. One thing I’ve learned from years of reading book reviews, and several attendances at YALSA’s Best Books deliberation – the times when actual teenagers attend and give their opinions – is that all of this is so subjective it may be pointless to identify the best and worst. I offer up my picks merely as fodder for discussion. In advance, apologies to anyone who disagrees and feels insulted by my choices. No insult is intended.

1. Don’t Call Me Ishmael by Michael Gerard Bauer (Greenwillow)

Ishmael 1
A chartreuse whale with a hook on top and a green spring?? What the HELL is this? This is a really ugly shape that sort of looks whalish – and is backed up by a reference to a book no teen wants to read. I can’t even imagine what the publisher was thinking. I would like to know, though, if someone out there was on the inside.
The color is attractive, but I just do not see kids being drawn to this big green blob with a title that calls up a classic many kids have shoved down their throats in school or summer reading.
I think it’s really a shame because this sounds like an excellent read, and a good book for booklists on bullying.
The author is Australian, and the book was first published there by Omnibus in 2006 with this cover (I think – but it does say Scholastic on it) ,
Ishmael 2
which is somewhat ordinary, but I’d rather pick this one up than the one with the Greenwillow cover.
It may very well be that once you read the book you have a perfect understanding of the pea-green springed whale. But it offers little to draw teens in in the first place. I’d like to see this one debated by the target audience…

2. What I Meant by Marie Lamba (Random House)

What I Meant
An unpleasing shape, poorly drawn, on lots of white space with 1950’s font choices. I can’t wait for the paperback because this is another book that sounds good and seems to fit nicely into library multicultural collection development. Nothing here gives me the slightest clue that this is about an Indian American family. That would be fine if that wasn’t a focus of the story, but it sounds like it is.

3. Ferret Island by Richard W. Jennings (Walter Lorraine/Houghton)

Ferret Island
I was going to say that this muddy, impressionistic beach painting is too abstract to interest teens – then I read the Booklist review and it says “The impressionistic cover painting won’t draw any readers…” so I am assured that I am not the only one who believes it. If I think it, and the Booklist reviewer thinks it, what was said at the publisher’s discussion when this cover was proposed? Another quote from Booklist “a gang of vicious, sheep-size ferrets” – well hey! Not that I believe in sensationalist book covers, but… if a teen has a choice between this and a book with “vicious, sheep-size ferrets” on it, um… which one is he going to pick up?? A reading through other reviews leads me to believe there’s lots of fodder here for a cover that doesn’t look like a painting in an art gallery. Let’s hope they do better with the paperback.

There are others. But I’m going to end it here, because I feel considerably worse about pointing out the unsuccessful covers than I do about the successful ones.

Don’t Call Me Ishmael: Fourteen-year-old Ishmael Leseur is certain that his name is the cause of his unhappy school life as the victim of the worst bully in his class, but when a new boy arrives, he shows Ishmael that things could be different. (Age 14+) Jacket art by Robert J. Beyers II. Jacket design by Sylvie Le Floc’h.
What I Meant: Having to share her home with her demanding and devious aunt from India makes it all the more difficult for fifteen-year-old Sang to deal with such things as her parents thinking she is too young to date, getting less than perfect grades, and being shut out by her long-time best friend. (Ages 12+)  Jacket illustration by Cindy Revell. Jacket design by Nicole de las Heras.
Ferret Island: Stranded on an island in the middle of the Mississippi River, fourteen-year-old Will Finn discovers a race of giant ferrets and a reclusive author who plans to use the animals in a plot against McDonald’s. (Ages 8-12) Jacket photo: Digital Vision/Getty Images. Jacket design: Kathy Black.