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:
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