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Releasing on January 5, 2016 is Salina Yoon’s 158th book, BE A FRIEND. (Yes, it really is her 158th book. Salina is the most prolific author-illustrator on the planet!)

The delightful cover is being revealed by Bloomsbury exclusively here today!

Isn’t it sweet?

beafriendcover

Salina, I know with my books the cover has come at the end of the book-making process…but I recently spoke with Matthew Cordell and his latest book’s cover idea came to him early on. When did you create this cover and what about the story did you want to convey through the images?

The cover was the first thing I designed and illustrated when I conceived of the idea to prepare it for submission. But since then, the cover’s changed a few times, even its title, and only recently was everything finalized. The book itself was completed much earlier.

Conveying the story with just one image and one title is so challenging with any book. In BE A FRIEND, it was important to show the two main characters having a deep connection to one another. It’s a unique kind of friendship because one child is silent, and he lives in a world of his own imagination. But here, we see the girl looking straight into his eyes, accepting the gift he dreamed up in his mind. She accepts him, just the way he is, and that’s a strong theme in the book. Like a mother who blows a kiss across a room and the child snatching it up, even gifts of the imagination are felt if the heart is in them.

Could you tell us a little more about the book?

BE A FRIEND is about a boy named Dennis who expresses himself through the silent art of mime, which alienates him from the other kids. No one seems to notice him, except one girl. Her name is Joy. Even without words, they can laugh and play. And most importantly, they can be friends. Joy shows Dennis that he can still be himself while including others—that his world needn’t be solitary.

beafriendspread1

This book is for any child (or adult) who has ever felt different that made them feel alone, and the importance of reaching out and making connections.

beafriendspread

BE A FRIEND is a heartwarming celebration of individuality, imagination, and the power of friendship. (Bloomsbury/January 2016)

Salina is giving away three signed, framed art prints from BE A FRIEND just for visiting her cover reveal today.

Leave a comment below; one comment per person, please. Three random winners will  be drawn on May 18th. Good luck!

Thanks to all the children who participated in Ammi-Joan Paquette’s THE TIPTOE GUIDE cover contest! We asked you to draw the cover of what you imagined could be the next book in the series, and we received some very creative entries. Since they were all so good, we randomly selected a winner. So…

Congratulations, Annika, age 9!

Annika wins a signed copy of THE TIPTOE GUIDE TO TRACKING MERMAIDS! And who knows, maybe sometime soon we’ll see a TIPTOE GUIDE TO TRACKING PEGASUSES! (PEGASI? PEGASU? Just what *is* the plural?!)

And here are the runners up…

Grace, age 9!

Katie, age 5! (With my personal favorite, MONSTERS!)

Lili, age 4! (Wow, nice lettering, Lili!)

And Molly, age 9, with a very colorful entry!

Thanks to all the kids who entered! It’s so much fun to see your creativity at work.

I promise to have more cover contests soon, including one for my upcoming book, THE MONSTORE!

This post is just one in a series about the 2008 Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature One-on-One Mentoring Conference. Click the RUCCL tag above to read them all.

Chad Beckerman is a graduate of the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design. He worked at Scholastic and Greenwillow before taking on the role of Art Director at Abrams BFYR and Amulet Books. Besides designing book jackets, he illustrates YA covers and creates the artwork for novel interiors. In addition to all that, he’s got a wry sense of humor and knows how to work a microphone.


Chad Beckerman, Molly O'Neill, Lisa Cheng, Lisa Ann Sandell

 Chad told us he’s unlike an editor. “They like to put their hands in everything,” he quipped. “I just have to make things look nice. And that’s…really nice.”

One of the things he likes to do is check out the competition. “I’m in the bookstores every weekend,” he said. He eyes what’s on the shelves, but he’s keenly aware that “you shouldn’t try to be what other books are being.” His job is to remain as unique as possible. “Look at what is out there, but do something totally original.”

Chad talked about translating novels into cool visuals and how difficult a task it can be to get it right for the audience. He recently worked on a book where a school prankster shoots classmates you-know-where with a watergun so it looks like they peed their pants. “That’s great,” he said, “here’s what we’re gonna do. We’ll put a watergun on the cover squirting yellow liquid!” But there’s some lines you can’t cross. It’s only a watergun, but it’s also a gun. And urine. “They told me we can’t do it, we just can’t. It made me sad, but I got over it.”

Chad is the savvy designer behind Jeff Kinney’s blockbuster novel-in-cartoons, Diary of a Wimpy Kid. “That one was really hard to do, even though it’s really simple.” There’s no color in the book; the interior illustrations are simple black drawings. But the book still needed a color identity if it was to be noticed on the shelves. People often associate a diary with a brown leather cover, but Chad felt that was “too literal” a translation for this book.

The Diary is a journal that the character’s mom gives him, so Chad looked at a lot of different diaries to get a feel for what this book should be. They settled on a typeset font for “DIARY” to suggest it was a bookstore purchase by Mom, but they scribbled “of a Wimpy Kid” in handwriting to demonstrate it was personalized by the main character Greg. Then they placed a ripped piece of paper with a drawing of Greg on the cover, seemingly torn right from the diary. (I personally love the wimpy, slouching pose.) The background is red to make it stand out, but it’s not a solid red—it has a slightly worn, leathery appearance. And each book in this series is color-coded. There’s a green one, a blue one and a do-it-yourself version in orange. “Some people think it’s brown, but it’s not brown, it’s orange,” Chad reminded us. The different colors help kids easily pick out the ones they don’t yet have!

People often ask Chad where he finds illustrators. In this digital age, he loves to browse websites and blogs looking for new talent. But the best way to get to him is by sending a postcard with a web address. It sits on his desk and reminds him to go online.

One point Chad emphasized to the RUCCL mentees is that “if you like what you’re writing about, then you need to go with it.” No matter what it is, he promises to make it jump off the shelves.

To wrap us this series, next I’ll post about the audience questions!

You’ve got less than fifteen seconds to grab a bookstore customer. That’s it. Your cover must lure them to the shelf. The title and design must call to them. Fail this instant judgment test and lose a sale. Yep, they really do judge a book by its cover.

So do kids. My Kindergartener cannot read, but she knows what books she wants. Last week she came home with a list of book fair titles she had selected on her own, solely by the covers. I decided to research the books before deciding whether to buy.

Without exception, every book cover featured a pony or a dog. Yes, she loves both animals. But the one book that she begged for the most? My Chincoteague Pony by Susan Jeffers.

How could a horse-crazed little girl resist? A black-and-white filly seems to be smiling as waves splash around her. The two-toned pink background and glitter on both the letters and the water seal the deal.

The story inside proves to be just as charming as the cover. Julie works hard on the family farm all year, earning money to buy her own pony at the annual Chincoteague auctions. The cover exudes a certain promise to the reader, and it delivers.

In contrast, another horse-themed picture book attracted my attention, but my daughter passed it by. The brown, muted tones of Twenty Heartbeats by Dennis Haseley reflects this story’s more mature vibe.

A wealthy man commissions a master artist to paint a portrait of his favorite horse. Years pass without word from the artist and the man grows angry. Yet the artist does not deliver until he feels the painting is the best he can produce. The book’s message is one of hard work, patience and perseverance, but the lesson needed to be explained to my child whereas she immediately grasped Julie’s work ethic in My Chincoteague Pony.

There could be several reasons for this, none having to do with the cover. For instance, the main character in Jeffers’ tale is a young girl from present time, easily relatable. The main characters in Twenty Heartbeats are adult men from ancient China.

In the end, I purchased both books, although I admit, Twenty Heartbeats was more for me than it was for her.

I wonder if publishers design some book covers to appeal more to the adult-gatekeepers than to the direct audience. This would make sense if a book contains mature themes and universal lessons that parents wish to teach their children.

There are some book covers that both my daughter and I agree upon. Here are just a few that we would like to read together. (Please note that Savvy is a middle-grade novel. But what a gorgeous, eye-catching cover.)

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