Monday, June 13, 2011

The Grand Plan to Fix Everything--Blog Tour!

Know what? Tween covers don't get enough attention on Jacket Knack. I think it's because so many of them use cover art that's about as visually interesting as a bowl of oatmeal. Stick with the familiar, these designers seem to be thinking; stick with what kids are used to.

Then along comes Abigail Halpin, the illustrator for Uma Krishnaswami's new novel, The Grand Plan to Fix Everything, (Atheneum, 2011. Designed by Caitlyn Dlouhy) and we sit up and take notice. Read an interview with Abigail Halpin about the making of this book here.

Dini, a Bollywood obsessed, aspiring screenwriter, age eleven, finds out that her family is moving--to India! But not to Bombay, the Bollywood center where films are produced. Instead, they're moving to a tiny town, the center of nowhere.

Halpin's Dini looks clever, cute and independent, don't you agree? The artist made her fit inside a map of India so that the country's borders create a frame around her. And the hand lettering for the title is a tween-friendly touch. (See an early sketch of the cover, with a different title (!) at Got Story Countdown.

So, I asked Uma to give us her thoughts on the cover art. Did it differ from what she expected? Were there any changes made along the way? Here's Uma's response:
From Uma: 
Here's what I hoped the jacket wouldn't be: 
1. pink, like many humorous books with girl protagonists. 
2. red and gold, like 90% of books with Indian settings published in the US.
It's neither, and I was very pleased about that. 
I love the image of the protagonist, Dini. I hadn't planted a single visual cue about Dini's appearance in the book, and yet she looks very much as I imagined her. Rather, it's clear that Abigail mined the text for cues to Dini's personality and energy, and used them to bring the character to life in this jacket. 
I also love the map. I did suggest changing Mumbai (the correct current name of the city) to Bombay, to be consistent with the book, in which "filmi people" still insist on calling the city by its old name. The location of the fictional town of Swapnagiri got shifted a bit to make it sit more squarely in the real Blue Mountains. 
Finally, I can claim credit for the tangled arrows on the back that reflect the mega movie star Dolly's state of mind! It was my little contribution to the design and I'm happy to say that it draws the eye quite nicely to itself, much as Dolly draws attention to herself in the book. 
Read more about Uma and her writing process in this interview with Jessie Grearson at Kirkus Reviews.

Uma Krishnaswami is on the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts and she was my second semester advisor--lucky me! --- CB


  1. The jacket demonstrates the happy result of a symbiotic collaboration between author, editor, illustrator and designer. It's beautiful, and it works!

    I hope it's OK to insert one small correction to to this delightful feature. The jacket and interior text was art directed and designed by Debra Sfetsios. The book's editor was Caitlyn Dlouhy. Many thanks for the Got Story Countdown shout-out!

    Joy Chu

  2. Hi, Joy. You're absolutely right--sorry I got people mixed up. I have no doubt that this cover will entice young readers.

  3. Thanks Joy, I spotted that but you beat me to it. Carol thank you for the lovely post, and for being part of the blog tour for The Grand Plan to Fix Everything.

  4. Just came across this post after looking for what kinds of covers I like or don't like so I can send some ideas to my editor. My book takes place in India too, so I'll be sure to mention "Not red and gold!"