Monday, March 28, 2011

Let's Face It

Camo Girl by Kekla Magoon
(Aladdin, 2011)

Imagine you are hired to design a book cover for a young adult novel. What should this cover look like?

Marketing wants a face on the cover.


You know faces work, insofar as they appeal to your target audience. We're all drawn to faces. But gads, who needs another cover with a stock photo of some model's face? You want to be original.

Kekla Magoon's Camo Girl features a character suffering from vitiligo, a skin pigmentation condition which gives her a blotchy appearance. So, what with image issues in the novel, a face was a natural choice. But this designer cleverly used graphics filters to create the polarized effect on this cover.

Below, more original treatments for the common face:

Dark Parties by Sara Grant
(Little, Brown, August 2011)

Throat by R.A. Nelson
(Knopf, 2011)

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
(HarperTeen, 2011)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Wee Folk

Top o’ the morning to yez! Even though St. Patty’s Day has passed, I’m still in an Irish mood. There are two folks to blame: Carrie Jones and the website that gave me this guy:

I just finished Carrie’s Captivate—her third story in the Need series, which features pixies. Thanks to Carrie, I was itching for more fantasy. Really craving it! I hunted around for some more good fantasy and stumbled upon this little leprechaun at He won me over instantly with his pot of “gold.” (I couldn’t find any art credits. So, many thanks to the unknown artist!) This little guy made me wonder if there are any YA fantasy series involving leprechauns. This was all I found:

Lionsgate Double Feature: Leprechaun and Warlock (A graphic novel) by Zach Hunchar, Nick Lyons, Kris Carter (Artist), Jacob Bear (Artist) (Bluewater Productions, July 2011)

Well, not quite what I had in mind. Anyone know of YA leprechaun fantasy? Maybe Carrie can work some into her next series. (Write faster, Carrie!) I did find lots of leprechauns in kids books, though. Here are some of my favorites:

I love the doleful expression in this one.

The Forgetful Little Leprechaun by David Mead (Ideals Publications, February 2011)

And this guy looks like he just won a bet with the devil:

Teeney O'Feeney, King Of The Leprechauns by James E. Tague (Xlibris Corporation, April 2010)

Not your typical green leprechaun cover or your typical leprechaun:

Fiona’s Luck by Teresa Bateman (Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc., February 2009)

And this one is a typical leprechaun, but the surrounding art drew my attention right to him:

Leprechauns Never Lie by Lorna Balian & Lorna Balian & Lecia Balian (Star Bright Books, February 2004)

May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.

- An Irish Blessing


Monday, March 14, 2011

Middle-grade Duos

Middle-grade novels often explore relationships between boys and girls which are not easy to define. Here are a few covers that try to depict these duos.

Although Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia (illustrated by Donna Diamond; Revised Harper Trophy edition, 2003) is a classic example of middle-grade friendship, this cover is almost too subtle in depicting the boy - girl relationship that drives the story.

Boys and girls can make great action hero teams. The covers for the End of the World Club
(EgmontUSA, 2010) and The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable (HarperCollins, 2011) both use light as a focal point which clearly highlights the characters and the action.

The next two covers reveal that not all boy - girl relationships are so amiable in middle-grade.

The back to back stance is great for middle-grade, since it suggests hostility but not out and out violence. There's a dirty look on the cover of Bobby vs Girls (Accidentally) (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2009) and a picket fence to divide boys and girls on This Means War (Jacket design and illustration by Lucy Ruth Cummins; Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2010). Love the cold war feel of that cover.

We can't forget that some great boy - girl stories are about siblings, where no matter what happens, you are stuck with them.
illustrated by Bob Dob
(Random House of Young Readers, 2008)

These covers do a nice job of suggesting that the big sisters are going to get their little brothers into some BIG trouble. And setting is pretty clear too.

(text copyright 1967; Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2002, with the cover of the museum photo by Andrew Prokos and the photo of the kids by Barry David Marcus, cover design by Karin Paprocki)

Any covers that capture middle-grade relationships that you loved to read about? Did the cover do justice to the pair of characters and the story?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Graphically Delicious

Charley Harper ABC's (AMMO 2008)

When it comes to capturing an image solely with line and color, Charley Harper was a master. I marvel at the way he's depicted pure "essence of nuthatch" on this alphabet book's cover. From the Harper Studio website:
In a style he called “minimal realism”, Charley Harper captures the essence of his subjects with the fewest possible visual elements.
You like?

I like.

Stylized images seem to lend themselves well to children's book illustration. Simple, representative, bold. Here are a few others, a feast for the eyes:

Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan
(S & S/ Paula Wiseman, April, 2011)
Middle grade fiction

Along a Long Road by Frank Viva
(Little, Brown, June 2011)
Picture book
Okay, this next one has some modeling with color, but there's still stylization, and anyway it's gorgeous:

The Secret River by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings(1956 Newbery Honor winner)
Reissued with illustrations by Diane and Leo Dillon
(Atheneum, January, 2011)
A very nice review and description of this board book, Look Who's There, can be found at the 100 Scope Notes blog:

Look Who's There! by Martine Perrin
(Albert Whitman, March 2011)
Originally published in France
Board book

The Tree That Time Built: A Celebration
of Nature, Science, and Imagination

Poetry selected by Mary Ann Hoberman
and Linda Winston
Illustrated by Barbara Fortin
(Sourcebooks, October, 2009)
Too bad about the audio CD box in the corner, but whaddya gonna do?