Thursday, August 20, 2009
My co-worker and I were discussing YA cover art today. Specifically the new paperback cover for Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale (my favourite Hale title). But also generally the trend within YA to show photographs of girls. I guess the idea is that readers get into books when they can relate to the cover girl. Like books for babies have pictures of babies in them. But, have a look at these very different covers of another Shannon Hale book I love, Princess Academy.
There's something that happens when Shannon Hale novels go from hardcover to softcover. They take on photos of girls, full-on face and body shots. Where the hardcover has a more whimsical, less obvious cover, the softcover becomes a portrait. And none of the girls remind me of the main characters. Well, maybe the blue cover below looks more like Miri than the rest. But that cover also looks like it could depict a bible story re-telling, with the goats in the background and the white sheet dress.
I have a bias for the hardcover children leading each other down a beautifully painted mountain. Maybe because this was the edition I read initially. But the colours are beautiful, the setting is evoked in the cover, and you only have an idea of what these girls looks like.
The pink cover just scares me. It looks like Paris Hilton's journal. Although it has some redeeming qualities like the attractively drawn clouds and mountains. The diamond-heart at the top is a bit much, though. And pink explosion doesn't say anything even remotely close to the story in Princess Academy.
Actually, I don't think any of the covers perfectly captures the story. The hardcover edition is really pretty, but it reminds me of Madeline (not a bad thing, just confusing). I'm not about to shout "more goats!", but there is something unsatisfying about this cover, despite being the best one of the lot.
I'm not sure what my conclusion is to this, but I wonder what other people think of these covers. Which one would you pick? And has there ever been cover art for a book that absolutely matched its story? Something so perfect you couldn't think of that book being packaged any other way? What book would that be?
If you haven't read Princess Academy yet, I really recommend it. It is a great story and has more depth than I expected. This and Book of a Thousand Days are my favourite Shannon Hale books.