This will not be a book review. I have not read any of the books I will be discussing. I do have plans to read them eventually, but for today I want to talk about art, namely cover art.
When I was growing up my Mom would always say, “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover.” This is a great mom saying and I have used it on my boys several times in their growing up years. I have also used other classic mom sayings such as; “If you pick it, it won’t get well” and my personal favorite “If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” These are fun sayings to pull out from time to time, but I’m curious, does classic mom wisdom apply to book art as well?
In preparation for my bi-weekly book review, I went to three book stores and two libraries in search of books. I wasn’t looking for a particular author or a particular subject, I was looking for something to catch my eye. Somewhere around the second bookstore, I made a startling discovery, I was judging the books by the cover.
I walked into the children’s section and saw:“The Santa Trap” is written by Jonathan Emmett and illustrated by Poly Bernatene.
Here is the book description:
Bradley Bartelby is bad, very bad. He’s greedy and naughty and selfish and spoilt – and Santa Claus knows it. But when beastly Bradley empties his Christmas stocking to find nothing but a pair of socks, he does quite the baddest thing he has ever tried to do. He builds a trap – a Santa Trap! With guillotines, dynamite and a tiger or two, Santa doesn’t stand a chance. Or does he?
Take a look at the boy on the cover. Doesn’t he look evil? The menacing objects behind the chair tell you that this is not a light a fluffy book. I was dying to see what the author had done with this story.
The next book that caught my eye was:
Princess Hyacinth: The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated written by Florence Parry Heide and illustrated by Lane Smith.
Here is the description:
Princess Hyacinth has a problem: she floats. And so the king and queen have pebbles sewn into the tops of her socks, and force her to wear a crown encrusted with the heaviest jewels in the kingdom to keep her earthbound. But one day, Hyacinth comes across a balloon man and decides to take off all her princess clothes, grab a balloon, and float free. Hooray! Alas, when the balloon man lets go of the string . . . off she goes. Luckily, there is a kite and a boy named Boy to save her.
I loved this cover. Princess Hyacinth is looking pretty calm floating in the title as her parents look frantically from below. This cover makes me want to look further to find out more about our little princess.
The final book was pointed out to me by my youngest son:
The Unusual Mind of Vincent Shadow written by Tim Kehoe and illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka and Guy Francis.
Here is the description:
Vincent Shadow isn’t particularly good at sports and is constantly being picked on by his classmates at Central Middle School. But it is Vincent’s unusually creative mind that truly separates him from other kids his age.
Vincent’s top secret attic lab is crammed with toy prototypes –from Liquid Superballs to Bullz-I Basketballs and Sonic Snorkelz–and he has a sketch book filled with drawings of toys he still wants to build. So when a chance encounter with an eccentric toy inventor offers him the opportunity to go from unknown weird kid to toy inventor extraordinaire, Vincent realizes that playtime is over: it’s time to get serious about toys.
This cover was wonderful. There is actually a die cut hole in the cover to expose the rocket and robot. This book immediately appealed to my “gadget boy” without even looking at the book description.
I know that publishing houses put a lot of thought and attention into the art they put on the cover, this is how they sell books. I also have tremendous respect for the illustrators that take a story and add their special touch to it. I know from my own experience with my picture book, that it was a huge leap of faith to put my baby into the hands of someone I didn’t know. I am just happy that he captured the spirit of the story and did such a great job.
Writing on the Sidewalk