Thursday, January 28, 2010

Exuberance and Wonder: A Challenge

Two of my favorite people in the world have new books out, and the pattern I see for these covers can be summed up in two words: EXUBERANCE AND WONDER.

Feeding the Sheep by Leda Schubert (March 2, 2010)

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (January 2010)

Don't you love the wide-open delight on the face of Leda Schubert's protagonist as drawn by prizewinning illustrator Andrea U'ren for FEEDING THE SHEEP??? (To be released on March 2nd, but I've seen the F& G's and I've heard Leda read this aloud. It's wonderful - a read-aloud with wonderful rhythm and rhyme, and a knitter's delight that takes you from wool-on-sheep to finished sweater.) And the glow of wonder on the face of the girl in Rita Williams-Garcia's story, ONE CRAZY SUMMER is irresistible, it just pulls you right in. (As does Rita's story - Read a great review of the book at COLOR ONLINE....The cover art is by talented artist Sally Wern Comport. Beautiful.)

So, here's a question: Why so little exuberance or wonder for the covers of YA titles? If it's out there, tell me about it, because I see not much variety - cover art ranges from angst to lust (it "runs the emotional gamut from A to B" as Dorothy Parker once famously said when describing Katherine Hepburn) and though I'll admit that those two preoccupations - angst and lust - loom large in the life of teenagers, there's got to be more, no? More than despair, horror, sex and a slew of pink & sparkly Shopaholics? There's that knock-out weird cover for Libba Bray's Going there is still a glimmer of humor. And there are the sci-fi/fantasy covers - blood, fangs, monsters, aliens, a la Monstrumoligist or Tentacles or Rule of Claw. Intriguing, yes, but still on the angst side of the fence. There's got to be more to YA jacket covers, no? Tell me I'm wrong. Point me to some YA covers that have the kind of exuberance and wonder on them that I see on these two covers for younger readers - and by that, I mean a cover that suggests joy. It's a challenge I send out to you. I'll update as you make suggestions.

UPDATES: Here are covers suggested in the comments, though I don't see anything as full-faced or engaging, and for me, the face on AMERICAN BORN CHINESE is tenuous and a little worried, rather than filled with wonder. Strange that two of these covers have the figure facing away fromt he camera.

This is the UK version of Lizzie Bright - considerably calmer!


  1. These both look like great reads! The covers are brilliant for sure!! Thanks for bringing them to my atttention!

    xoxo -- Hilary

  2. Exuberance perhaps, but not wonder on an upcoming book by Jordan Sonnenblick called AFTER EVER AFTER.
    And there is apparently NO humor category for Young Adult novels on Amazon, which is where I wanted to search.

  3. Rita's cover art was done by Sally Wern Comport.

  4. If you only knew teens from YA covers, what freakish, abhorrent creatures they'd seem! Constantly brooding (with the occasional smirk), generally either fractured, hopelessly blurred, or weirdly truncated (my favorite: upper face missing), and very often seen in silhouette, however good the lighting. I did find a couple of recent Printz finalists that come perilously close to exuberance and/or wonder: American Born Chinese, and Lizzie Bright & the Buckminster Boy. Tellingly, though, the appropriate audience for each of these is somewhat controversial...

  5. It makes you wonder, how much of teen fiction is reflecting the inner lives of actual teens? Surely, there are some happy fifteen-year-olds out there who like to laugh and cheer on a hopeful protag.
    Why is it that I picture you all snickering now at my naivete? I raised a teenager, I really did.

  6. How about POSITIVELY by Courtney Sheinmel?