Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day - Seeing Red

Looking at all the red covers lining the Valentine's Day book displays made me realize how few red book covers there were on the other shelves. And then I asked "why?".

Let's take a look at how picture books use red. Some use it as a contrast to a focal point, which the following two book covers do very well.

The Red Book by Barbara Lehman
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004)

(A Neal Porter Book/Roaring Brook Press, 2008)

The next one layers the red but this time it's the title that stands out more than the character. The reader is getting some information though about setting: it's hot and fiery.
Teresa Duran, illustrated by Elena Val (Groundwood, 2010)

In these YA selections, red is being used to the fullest in terms of symbolism. Which do you think is better at conveying the themes of love/passion, fear and danger?

Ivy Devlin, book design by Danielle Delaney
(Bloomsbury Books for Young Readers, 2010)

(Razorbill, 2010)

Integrating the moon into the title of the first book and the snake forming a stylized heart in the second made these covers stand out for me, as well as the red of course.

So an answer to the question "why aren't there more red covers out there?" is that red is an intense colour that carries meaning. It has to be used wisely as it can symbolize many emotions. What do you see (and feel) when you pick up a red cover?


  1. Interesting. Green is avoided sometimes because it's hard to get the color right in printing. But red? I love red. There can never be too much red. LOVE that Low Red Moon cover--reminds me of Shiver. And wait--that's a snake on The Eternal Ones?

  2. When I see red, I think passion, fire, excitement. It's bold, and a color I use in decorating a lot, so for me it catches my eye instantly.

  3. Good point about the green Carol. I was noticing there are many different shades of red too (take a peek at the Catching Fire cover for some red-orange hues).

    Like the excitement factor "thatcovergirl". Red pops up in my decorating, though it is a more cranberry colour which makes me feel warm rather than fiery.