Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tapjacketing #4 - Soup, Soup and More Soup

We have entered what I call the Sharing Days - Thanksgiving to New Year's Day - when we reflect on Big Issues like Gratitude, Generosity, and Self-Improvement (via Resolutions.)  Conversely, we have entered the trivial Let's-Be-Thrifty-With-Leftovers Days - sandwiches made of bits and pieces and this and that, sides of the last sweet pickles in the jar, soup which (here in my house, anyway) has been dubbed "Everything-And-The-Kitchen-Sink Soup." The photo below sums it up, though I don't see any random green beans or black beans (yes, black beans....) or spuds or rice or cilantro or chile verde or squash or cabbage or corn or melting parmesan.

Of course, in children's literature, it's called "Everything-And-The-Stone Soup:

So in the complicated spirit of generosity, thrift and good kids' books, I offer up this short list of bits and pieces - let's call it "Link Soup" today ( I promise, no turkey....)  Thanks to Carol Brendler, my co-blogger extraordinaire, for the heads-up on some of these.

Click on the word "Link" to be transported:

1. Link:  via Melissa Walker, some thoughts from  Cynthia Leitich Smith about the cover designs for her new book, ETERNAL. Readers are asked to say which cover they prefer (the U.S. cover is more subtle, the Australian/U.K. cover has a reclining male figure, shirtless but w/wing.) My vote goes to the U.S. cover - more intriguing and mysterious.

2.  Link: At School Library Journal, Diantha McBride writes an open letter to publishers about what she thinks librarians need to see more of, and some of her advice has to do with re-thinking jacket design. "I'd suggest that you recruit some real live fourth graders to review your mock-up covers before you make any final art decisions," says McBride. (Let me sit in on that session, please!) She also wishes that publishers would put the number on books in a series, based on reading order. Right now, for example, the Redwall books have nothing on the covers to indicate the order in which the books should be read. She cites an interesting web page where people can go to get lists of series books, in reading order.

3. Link:  If you feel like you can survive long exposure to kids' book covers from the 70's and 80's, check out Beth's blog, JUDGING THE BOOKS, which is self-described as "A time-traveling library of Young Adult books from the 70's and 80's with extremely lame cover illustrations." Amazing. Though I promised "No turkey" today, this one is filled with turkeys.

4. Link:  100 Scope Notes has a long, thorough and wonderful interview with Chad Beckerman, the art director and cover designer at Abrams Books, complete with honest opinions about recent covers he thinks are great, and insights into influences upon his own design aesthetic. 100 Scope notes is fast becoming one of my favorite sites.

5. Link: If you're interested in more about Chad Beckerman, he has his own blog, MISHAPS AND ADVENTURES, which is "Dedicated the Process and Exploration of Children's and Young Adult Book Design."

6. Link: Amazon is asking customers to vote for the Best Covers of the Year (you need an Amazon account to login and vote)  and they offer up six choices in the Children's Book category. Their choices are odd (what, no Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney? That's impossible. ) but it's kind of fun to vote. And if you click on the book covers you can find out the names of the jacket designers.

7. Link and Link  Parts 1 and 2 of an interview with Chris Papasadero of FWIS DESIGN, who is offering up 30 Covers in 30 Days for the NaNoWriMo project (National Novel Writing Month -  ending today -  congratulations to all of you who are insane enough to try to write a novel in one month.)  I can only find one page that links to 14 of the covers (Chris designed each cover based on the author's own synopsis of the story) but I think it's being updated as the covers are produced.....

8. Link:  The New York Times has a slide show about Tomi Ungerer's work as an illustrator and graphic artist. Maurice Sendak said,  “No one, I dare say, no one was as original. Tomi influenced everybody.” Phaidon has recently begun re-publishing Ungerer's wonderful books, most of which have long been out of print. 




Monday, November 23, 2009

A Trip Aboard the Way-Back Machine

Indulge me; it's my birthday. I love the Arts and Crafts style, a design movement begun around the turn of the (last) century and its adjuncts, Art Nouveau, the Prairie Style, etc. This month's Style 1900 magazine has a feature by Irene M.K. Rawlings on children's book illustrators from that time period, and when two of your passions intersect it's impossible to ignore. I bring to your attention four of the illustrators mentioned in the article, all of whose work I am so in love with that I want to marry it:

Elizabeth Shippen Green -- (1871-1954) Illustrated children's books as well as grown-up books. She studied under the "Father of American Illustration," Howard Pyle, as well as other masters. The article in Style 1900 says of her work "she is best known for her children's book illustrations done in a highly decorative, shimmery style that is often compared to stained glass." This cover for The Very Small Person by Annie Hamilton Donnell (1906) is a fair example of covers from that time, with its cartouche surrounding the title, etc. and a plate from the book pasted on the cover. Often, books were sold with paper dust jackets, but these were typically removed and thrown away (source: Alan Powers, Children's Book Covers). Below is an interior illustration from The Very Small Person:

Read the book in its entirety here. And here's another Green illustration from The Book of the Child (1902):

Clara Elsene Peck -- (1883 – 1968) Another student of Howard Pyle's. She did the cover image and interior illustrations for In the Border Country by Josephine Daskam Bacon (1909) cover shown at left, as well as several other children's books and covers for Colliers and other magazines. View the entire book here.

Here's her cover for Shakespeare's Sweetheart by Sara Hawkes Sterling (1905):

And her illustrations are, in my humble opinion, to-die-for gorgeous. Love this table of contents page for In the Border Country:

Maginel Wright Enright Barney -- (1881-1966) She was probably tired of being introduced as the younger sister of Frank Lloyd Wright, but there you go. She was. And she was the mother of Elizabeth Enright. She illustrated over forty children's books, including many by L. Frank Baum writing under his pseudonym, Laura Bancroft. Here's one:

And here's an interior illustration from Hans Brinker:

Read/view the entire book online here. Maginel is, incidentally, a nickname derived from the combination of Maggie and Nell.

Maxfield Parrish -- (1870- 1966) Probably the best known of the ones featured in this post, this guy could draw. One of the qualities I love most about all of these artists is their bold compositions. Everything is so elegantly balanced and so appropriate for the mood of the drawing. The cover for The Knave of Hearts by Louise Saunders (1925), left, is one I find utterly appealing. The symmetry, the muted colors (so indicative of the Arts and Crafts period), the giant spoons for a touch of whimsy. It all works. It's no wonder his work was sometimes reprinted as large lithographs for people to hang in their homes.

We'll end this post with more Parrish eye candy, though not children's book covers. I said it was my birthday, remember? First an image of Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary:

and this one (below), an oil painting titled "The Lantern Bearers," (1908), which according to this source sold for $4,272,000 at auction not long ago. Same source says it "was originally created for a frontispiece for Collier's magazine's December 10, 1910, issue."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

An Interview with Lucy Ruth Cummins

I recently got in touch with Lucy Ruth Cummins, Senior Art Director at Simon and Schuster, to ask her a few questions about this arresting jacket image:

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Simon and Schuster - October 2009

Before I get to that interview though, I want to linger over the cover for a minute. In a bookstore I would want to pick the book up simply to think about how someone took that photo. Maybe with Photoshop available, people have stopped wondering about how someone got a particular shot. But I'm old-fashioned - I wonder. (For answers about how it was done, see the link to the James Porto interview, below. Here's one fact: It took six hours to get it right - a full day shoot...!) I'm usually not a great fan of photographs on covers - not sure why. Many of them seem static to me, especially if they trump the imagination by giving us an implied image of the main character. A photo of a landscape can be interesting, especially if the landscape itself is static - in that case, something is  functioning as a metaphor for the emotional arc of the story. But a photo of a person can be too direct and too literal for me (I'm a poet - I have an excuse for preferring indirection.) The trend in YA books lately is to provide a photo of a teenage girl who is far too beautiful (read: sexy eyes, gorgeous hair, perfect skin, lush lips, bare midriff and a come-on look) to be the protagonist of the story we're about to read. As an example, see my previous post here  - about the first cover of Justine Larabalestier's LIAR.

But the photo for HUSH, HUSH is anything but static. Though you might not be able to see it in this image I've posted,  the feathers actually get redder as they "float" away toward the top of the image, so there's metaphor for the metaphor-junkies among us, me included. The decision to go with mostly black and white pays homage (even if it wasn't intentional) to the great cinematographers and photographers of the 30's and 40's - they knew how to do extraordinary things with light.  And then there's the extreme arch of the angel's back, his torn wings, the musculature of his left arm, and the hands held as if he's in pain, not to mention the shaft of light shining directly on to his skin, brightest at the most vulnerable spot on his torso. All the sharp physicality in the image is mesmerizing. The font used for the non-capitalized title, too, is wonderful, with its hint of something growing, vine-like, organic but a little satanic (am I imagining things?)  Well, I love a photo that sets the imagination in play. And I love that book jacket.

So, let's see what Lucy Ruth Cummins can share about how an art director approaches a project like this:

JL: The cover art for Becca Fitzgerald's HUSH HUSH is pretty spectacular! The first question anyone who sees the book will ask is "How on earth did they get that photograph?" I'm dying to know, too! Can you tell us what your role was in the design of the cover?

LC: On any jacket design project, initially the editor will give me a finished manuscript or a work-in-progress to read and get a handle on. Emily Meehan is Becca Fitzpatrick’s fantastic editor, and when she gave me the pages of “Hush, Hush,” I totally tore through them! It was absolutely un-put-down-able! I came to her after finishing my reading and we both agreed this jacket had to be bold, different and absolutely eye-catching to match the thrill of the book itself. That’s when the hunt for an artist who could meet our exceedingly high expectations began!

JL: Who was the photographer? Have you used him for other book projects?

LC: I often pull out pages in magazines and print things that catch my eye: illustrators, photographers, even models who just have a look that I think might come in handy somewhere down the line. The walls of my office are covered with these things! But for “Hush, Hush,” I absolutely wanted something that didn’t resemble anything out there, so that’s when I started an exhaustive hunt on the internet for serious talent.

There are many sites which host portfolios and collect interviews with photographers, and I must have viewed hundreds of them before James’ work leapt out at me. I went to his portfolio site and I was absolutely in awe of his work – to my mind, he’s a fine artist first, a photographer second, and I could see from his carefully composed pieces that he was brilliantly creative and talented. It appealed to me that his work hadn’t been captured all that often for book jackets, and when I shared his pieces with Emily, and my art director Lizzy Bromley, we all cheered  - we had our man!

I phoned James’ representative, Ralph M. and spoke to him first – he was excited, too, when I gave him the gist of the story. I promptly got a call back from James who was excited about the possibilities, and once he had read (and loved!) the manuscript, we were ready to roll.

 3. Can you help our readers understand the collaborative nature of book jacket design? Editor, art director, marketing and publicity people, and maybe even the writer - what kind of role does each play?

Great jackets are like a big stew of love and ideas that come from all directions - “Hush, Hush” is one of the most perfectly spiced ones I’ve worked on. This speaks a lot to the very evocative way Becca wrote her story, it was so meaty, so beautiful, so exciting - it was like being given a gift.

On a project like this, one that’s so driven by the unique voice of the jacket artist, usually the conversation starts with sketches. I’ll pow wow with the editor and my art director (and frequently, anyone within ear shot!) until we have a definite favorite among those the artist has shared.

The next step, with a photographic jacket, is to get the shoot underway. I can’t say enough how great James was in arranging this. He chose a model that was 1000% Patch and we were on board right away. Then came the trampoline...but I’d love for him to speak to that!  [Note from JL: See link below to an interview of James Porto about this cover.]

After the photos are shot, the photographer starts playing around to get a striking image. Once we’ve all done some back and forth and feel it’s where we’d like it to be, we share it with our sales & marketing folks to get their take based on their expertise and knowledge of what’s out there and what’s selling.

At the unveiling of this cover, which we do at a large meeting and on a big projector screen, I was elated to find it met with gasps and goose bumps! The ultimate compliment!

JL: Do you have any stories to tell us about other book covers you've worked on - maybe a long-haul to get to a satisfactory cover, or maybe interesting details about rejected covers, difficult personalities, mixed messages, missteps or the opposite of all this - that is, great successes, personal victories, splendid collaborations?

LC: I am a firm believer in not kissing and telling! But I assure you there’s enough drama to fill a reality show, and enough happy endings to sew up Library of Congress full of fairy tales! Some books are a snap, and some can at times seem impossible, but working on a range of projects definitely keeps things interesting.

JL: Do you have a few kids' book covers (from classics to contemporary - maybe even from your childhood) that are your favorites? (We'll try to post images of any of your favorites!)

That’s a toughy! I’m a big reader and sometimes I think my wires get crossed and my favorite books for reading get crossover credit for their designs. (I’m most sentimental about a copy of the Catcher in the Rye that had no jacket, just a beat up old black cloth cover with no type at all that my mother shared with me as a teenager.)

I don’t think I could ever make a short list I’d be satisfied with presenting – it’s a designer’s worst nightmare to have to pick favorites! That said, I feel very fortunate to work with so many insanely inspiring neighbors here at S&S Children’s – I often get blown away just waiting by the color printer!

Many thanks to Lucy Ruth Cummins for cheerfully providing me with answers to my questions, especially during such a busy season for art directors and editors (preparing their Fall 2011 lists already!!)  For Becca Fitzpatrick's thoughts on the cover art for her book, go to this post over at WONDROUS READS. She also has a website of her own that you can browse, and there's an interesting interview over at YouTube.  And for an interview of James Porto, the photographer who performed the magic for Becca's cover, see the appropriately titled FALLEN ARCHANGEL blog. You can see more of Porto's work at his own website, and there's a sketch he made for the cover art, right here (be sure to scroll down all the way for the sketch.)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Random Quack III

Because Jacket Knack sounds a bit like quacking and in honor of our masthead image, we offer the occasional duck-related story on this blog. This is what we like to call a random quack. Here's our latest: Make way for very early ducklings, whose chronologically impaired parents apparently (say that three times fast) felt the lure of romance in the air along with unseasonably warm weather in the UK. See article.

Monday, November 9, 2009

BLESSING'S BEAD -- An Interview with Debby Dahl Edwardson

There's no better way for Jacket Knack to celebrate Native American and Alaska Native Heritage month than by bringing you the utterly unique cover story of a brand-spanking new novel featuring a main character who is Inupiaq. I'm talking about the young adult novel Blessing's Bead (FSG, November, 2009), and we bring you its cover story via an interview with the author, Debby Dahl Edwardson. Debby, pictured at right, is a resident of the northernmost part of the great state of Alaska. She is also the author of the picture book Whale Snow (Charlesbridge, 2003) which I own and love, and she holds an MFA degree in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College. We learned about the cover of Blessing's Bead right around the time Justine Larbalestier's novel, Liar, was getting its cover replaced. Read on and you'll find out why Debby's cover came up in relation to that controversy.

CB: Your own daughter graces the cover of Blessing's Bead. How did that come about?

DDE: Long story. The publisher decided on a photo cover early on. My editor graciously involved me in the process. Initially, they were looking for an historical photo and I got involved in the search because I had a better handle on what’s out there in terms of historical Inupiaq photos. In the end we looked at lots of photos, historical and stock, and we also had some pictures taken of different girls, including my daughter.

CB: Who shot the photo? Was there a big photo shoot with the publisher's staff or something? Any stories about the photo's creation would be interesting, if you'd like to share.

DDE: There was no big photo shoot. I was forwarding photos that I found—both historical and contemporary stock. When they started leaning towards a contemporary shot I had several people take photos of girls I thought might look like the characters—either the historical girl, Nutaaq, or contemporary one, Blessing (whose Inupiaq name is Nutaaq.) The first group of photos we took was of one of my nieces, who I thought fit the part either way. A young Inupiaq photographer friend of mine [Rainee Higbee], who is also an artist and a writer, shot the photos. She even painted the traditional tattoo lines on her chin.

I have to say that I got all excited at this shoot, because my niece has a lip ring and I started thinking about all the connections between historical tattoos and contemporary tattoos and piercings. I thought a lot about that chilling opening scene in the made for TV movie of Jane Yolen’s The Devil’s Arithmetic that shows the contemporary girl in a tattoo parlor—right before she goes back in time to the Nazi concentration camp where she gets another kind of tattoo. So we shot pics of my niece both with the ring and with the traditional tattoo and I was even thinking that if they liked the ring ones I would write a lip ring into the book…

In the end, we were so focused on the art and imagery we forgot to get into the character aspect of it so I don’t think she had the right expression. The next bunch we shot were in a studio with another niece and my oldest daughter, who has a theater connection, coached her. In the end, though, this girl’s face was a bit too tough, I think, and lacked the needed vulnerability.

To be honest, I think I shot the pictures of my daughter Aaluk (Susan) out of desperation. Aside from the fact that she is very pretty, acting is one of Aaluk’s loves and I knew she could get into character more easily.

CB: What other images were considered and discarded? Why?

Well, I’ve told you about the contemporary ones that were discarded. My editor initially wanted to find an historical photo, but we never really found the right face. And I have to say, that I think there is a problem, in general, with photo covers or even covers that feature artistic representations of the characters because as soon as you give a reader an actual image of a character you are in a sense proscribing their vision, shackling their imagination, maybe even limiting their ability to identify. It’s hard to predict, but you want something that’s going to make the reader pick up the book. That’s the goal, isn’t it? The cover has to say, to as wide a group as possible, “hey, you gotta minute? I’ve got something to tell you.” None of the historical photos we looked at had that kind of draw.

And to be perfectly honest, the idea of using an historical photo rubs me the wrong way. It doesn’t feel right to me to take a photo of a real person, who never had a chance to consent to it, and use it for the cover shot of a book of fiction that may have nothing to do with the reality of her life and may even be insulting to her memory in subtle or not so subtle ways. And the people in historical photos have living relatives, usually. Where I live, in fact, people take great interest in identifying relatives in the many historical photos taken in the early twentieth century, photos which have often been sitting in distant collections for years undiscovered. I did check out all the historical ones we were considering for the cover of Blessing’s Bead and was satisfied that no one I knew could identify them, but it still made me very uncomfortable. How would you like it if you picked up a novel and saw that it had your great grandmother’s picture on it and nobody in the family had been contacted or had granted permission for its use? But if we’d found the right one, I would have tried. Just yesterday I saw a new bunch of historical Inupiaq photos I’d never seen before and found myself thinking—oh look! She would have been perfect—she even has the tattoo lines. But it’s a touchy proposition, I think.

CB: Do you recall why they chose the close-up, cropped image over the one where we see the girl's entire face?

DDE: Because it grabs your attention more, I imagine. They had one that was even a closer cut. I gave them input from a few writer friends and Inupiaq friends who all thought showing the fur of the parka gave it more context.

CB: How does your daughter feel about being a cover girl?

DDE: She’s happy about it, of course. I think she was surprised they picked her picture because when she first looked at the photos we took she said, “Mom, I don’t look Inupiaq enough.” (And when she first looked at the cover shot, she thought it made her look drugged but she’ll probably kill me for telling you this.)

CB: What with the recent controversy over the race of the girl's image on the cover of Justine Larbalestier's Liar, did you have any concerns about using this particular image?

DDE: Yes, of course. I initially agreed with my daughter and that’s what I told my editor: I don’t think she looks Inupiaq enough, which is odd because, after all, I am the one who had the picture taken. Then my editor said something rather perceptive. “How do you know Blessing isn’t part white?”

This reminded me of something I heard Vera Williams say once. She remembered reading More, More, More Said the Baby to a class one time and one of the kids asked, "how come that black kid has a white grandma?" The teacher, who was black, said, "how do you know she isn't black?" Indeed.

Basically, I have very mixed feelings about this whole issue. On the one hand, I identify with those who accuse the publishing industry of deliberately picking the lighter skin over the dark skin, the skinny girl over the chubby one, the one who fits the marketing image over the one who doesn’t. This isn’t healthy for any young reader--either white or of color. Period.

On the other hand, though, I get queasy about defining a person’s cultural identity by skin color. It used to be that a person with a drop of black blood was stigmatized and treated to the same racism their darker relatives faced. With Native Americans, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has set a different standard. If you want to qualify for Native services (not always a blessing, believe me) you have to have at least one-quarter quantum Native blood. This standard has become the means the federal government uses to define who is and who is not Native. I think it’s intrusive, ignorant and ultimately harmful to Native people. For example—I work at a tribal college and in a recent audit (yes a financial audit) they asked to see our student records and cited us as out of compliance because for one of the student records they looked at, the verification of Native blood was a copy of the student’s tribal enrollment card. The tribe in question defines its members based on family tree not blood quantum. Not good enough, the auditors said; he has to be able to prove he is at least one-quarter Native American. How sick is that?

This issue of blood quantum is one of the major issues facing the rising generation of young Native Americans and when I think about it in relation to the cover of Blessing’s Bead, part of me says, shame on you for saying but she doesn’t look Inupiaq enough; shame on you for letting her think that way.

My youngest daughter returned from her first year at Dartmouth with a video she’d made—interviews with light-skinned Native American students at Dartmouth about their thoughts on issues of racial identity and skin color [I'm working on acquiring the link to share--cb]. Who defines me, these kids were saying. Who has the right? Although these questions are not new to me, I’m fascinated by the many issues these interviews raise and gratified that my daughter, a light skinned Inupiaq, is raising them.

“Who will fix this?” She asks her father and I. “You will,” we tell her.

But surely we must reflect on this reality in all its complexity within the body of books we publish…and on their covers.

How do you know Blessing isn’t part white? No, that’s not the point. The point is that this book is firmly based in the Inupiaq culture and has a light-skinned Inupiaq girl on the cover, my own daughter. The issue is that even in my own mind, Blessing should look much darker. Sure—given the details of her life as I knew it, she is more than likely part white, but her identity is firmly Inupiaq and I wanted the picture to reflect that.

Now that’s a very interesting reaction for the mother of seven biracial children who all define themselves as Inupiaq, don’t you think?

The point is, that when we look at issues of race, we have always tended to put people into these boxes that say, “you belong here and you belong there,” and this is getting harder and harder to do. We should, instead, be looking at issues of cultural identity. We should instead be looking closer at issues of multiracialism and multi-ethnicity and how these are reflected in children’s books. And we need to do this quickly, because a rapidly growing percentage of the young readers currently defined as people of color fall into this category. We are totally ignoring the many nuanced levels of experience this group faces and yet within less than 20 years, they will be the racial majority in this country. Think of it: what percentage of our books reflects young people trying to negotiate identity on this level? And yet it is an experience so pervasive in this country that even our president is reflective of it. His face is the face of the future, I kept thinking, throughout his campaign. It was a good thought for me, the mother of multiracial children.

Would some white person, seeking political correctness, have seen Obama’s younger face on the cover of a children’s book and said, he isn’t black enough? Would some black person have seen it and said hey, this guy’s too white—his experience isn’t representative enough of the Black experience?

Think about it, people.

CB: We will, Debby. Thanks so much for telling your cover story and giving us your thoughts.

Find out more about Blessing's Bead and Debby Dahl Edwardson on her website.

Thanks also to A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy for cluing me in about the NA&ANH celebration in the States. Blogs--they're really useful, y'know? Here's more about the celebration.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tapjacketing #3

Plenty to share today! Get a hot cup of cocoa (if the weather is anything like it is in Seattle today!) and spend a bit of time with the links below. Just click on the work "Link" to be transported. (And if you don't have time for all the links, at least go to the question at the very end!)

1. Link: Check out designer and illustrator (and author) Nikalas Catlow's quirky UK blog, the apple and the egg, which is "all about children's book design and illustration." Don't miss my favorite feature, the sidebar link to the category called "Motivation Monday" - great jpeg's of various artists' sketchbooks. Catlow oversees the design of the young fiction list at Random House Children's Books in the UK. Here is a page from the sketchbook of children's book illustrator Adam Stower - love it!

And below is a page from the wonderful Polly Dunbar's sketchbook:

Dunbar's quick line reminds me a little of the illustrator Quentin Blake's work. Her covers for the Tilly and Friends books are charming, and her cover for David Almond's novel, My Dad is a Birdman, has that same Blake-like light-as-air line::

2. Link: Here's an interesting interview of David Caplan, the art director at HarperCollins Children's Books - Though he says the following simply for informational purposes, I found it a bit chilling, "Publishers in the U.S. have learned that it’s vitally important to appeal to the needs of our biggest booksellers, as they are often the greatest source of revenue. If a bookseller says a particular cover design will make the difference between a book selling ten- and fifty-thousand copies, the publisher will obviously try to accommodate their suggestions." In other words, Amazon or Barnes and Noble could tell a publisher what to put on the cover of a book. That is NOT a pleasant development, if you ask me.

3. Link: Anna Alter at Blue Rose Girls posted the sketches for possible front/back cover of her new book Disappearing Desmond and got feedback about favorites from blog readers. An interesting experiment. The final front cover is a wonderful choice - those two ears, those two eyes!!

4. Link: Adam Rex describes the long process of coming up with a book cover for Guess Again, written by Max Barnett. Looks like about 32 different possibilities???

5. Link: Okay, here is a web-page you can fall into for a whole day - you know the kind - you open it up, it takes you to page after page of fascinating stuff, then you notice a link on the sidebar, you follow it, it takes you to page after page of fascinating stuff, you notice a link on the sidebar of THAT page....etc. Well, it's the Library of Congress, so that's as it should be. This particular link will take you to the site - check out the gorgeous classic book covers. Here are two of my favorites:

6. Link: Five Toronto-based book designers talk about "The Jacket Racket." I love what Bill Douglas says about designing covers for the "big fiction" books, especially compared to the crossover adult/YA book, A Complicated Kindness. “Does that one look like a big book? Did that have big, giant text on it?” It had a little axe and a chicken. It didn’t look like a big book and that thing sold."

7. Link: Stevie Wonder sings You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover. Sweet!

8. Link: If Stevie Wonder isn't enough for you, Bo Diddley sings a completely different song titled (guess what?) You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover. Even sweeter!

9. Link: It's NOVEMBER! And the moon was SO beautiful this weekend, wasn't it? I wanted to howl.... In fact, I think I did howl, just a bit. But I also wanted to get in the car, drive down the interstate, gather my grandson up into my arms, and go out for a night walk - just so we could look at the moon together. Thinking about that put me in mind of Grace Lin's new book, which is getting such wonderful reviews. Clink on Link #9 and it takes you to a video about the book, which - though not a picture book - is illustrated in full color. I would have loved to stare and stare at this cover when I was a kid, imagining myself right on the back of that dragon:

And thinking about Grace Lin's book put me in mind (because my mind works like a game of "Tag, you're it!") of a book cover I saw while researching the illustrator Polly Dunbar (see above under artist's sketchbooks.)

I think The Boy Who Climbed Into the Moon is not going to be out until 2010 and will be issued first in the UK (though it's to be published by Candlewick so it might come out simultaneously here...?)
Here's what will be happening with the moon this month, which has nothing to do with book covers. Actually, if you had this chart and folded it down the middle, it would wrap around a book and make a perfect book cover, wouldn't it?

And it's not too far a stretch to get from this chart to Brian Floca's Moonshot, which seems to be mentioned a lot for the Caldecott Medal this year (and even more, of course, for the Sibert Medal.) The way the space capsule seems to hover silently in space, with the moon waiting in the distance, makes for a beautiful cover (which interestingly moves from the more familiar blue of many "moon" covers, to an overwhelming black):

10. Link A and Link B: The Mock Caldecott discussions are beginning in earnest now - Allen County Public Library in Indiana has one of the best online discussions in the country (they issue four shortlists with links to discussions about them from July to January before the ALA announcement of the winner.) Mock Caldecotts across the country just try to anticipate which books might be nominated, or which might win, and ACPL is about to announce its Shortlist #3 very soon. Until they do, you can check out List 1 and List 2 with these links.

Here is a challenge for everyone who follows JACKET KNACK. See if you can judge a book by its cover. Tell us, BASED ON THE COVER ALONE, which book do you think will win the Caldecott this year?