Monday, February 1, 2010

4 Inviting Middle Grade Covers

Q. Do publishers spend an equal amount of attention on book cover design for middle grade novels as they do for young adult novels or picture books?
A. Probably.
But sometimes the results, while appealing and perfectly serviceable for tween tastes, aren't all that fresh and attention-grabbing.

Or are they? Here are four rather inviting covers from recent middle grade novels, chosen because they seem to offer something a little more artistically than the average middle grade cover:

Left to right, top to bottom:
Alvin Ho: Allergic to girls, school and other scary things
Lenore Look, author -- LeUyen Pham, illus.
New York : Schwartz & Wade Books, 2008
(technically a chapter book)
Amphibian by Carla Gunn
Coach House Books, 2009

Powerless by Matthew Cody
Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2009

Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce
MacMillan UK, 2008
Do you agree? Disagree? Feel free to share your opinions and other nifty MG cover choices in the comments.


  1. have to go with a disagree on "powerless." and having read it i can say that the book lived up to its cover, which is to say i thought they were both incredibly weak and poorly designed.

    alvin ho works for me, and the other two look hopeful. at the very least, the other three look like someone actually spent some time on them.

    marketing departments confound me. sometimes i can't figure out what the heck they were thinking. and i keep hearing stories about decisions they make for book covers that leave me shaking my head.

  2. Agree completely about the Shaking-My-Head Syndrome induced by marketing departments, David! Would love to be a fly on the wall when they discuss some of these decisions.

  3. When I taught middle school, I was always interested to note that kids shied (shyed?) away from the more hip-looking covers, like Amphibian. They wanted the comforting-looking Ellie McDoodle, Bud, Not Buddy, Sisterhood of the Travelling You-Know-Whats. The more hip or artsy, the less likely they were to pick it up. So much for trying to be fresh!

  4. Ah, I was wondering about that. That age group is still wanting books that *look* like middle grade books. Probably if it looks like it's for older kids they will think it's too hard, with small type inside, without even cracking open the cover. Makes sense. Too bad for MG cover designers, since they probably can't be too innovative. Unless it's by applying sparkles and prismatic effects and such, which, in my opinion, is always GREAT FUN.