Design’s a pretty amazing thing in the world of children’s literature. I don’t think I’ve seen an ugly book for a long time. You know what I mean; the sort of book that looks at you and dares you to touch it. The sort of book that doesn’t, quite genuinely doesn’t want to be read.
I’ve talked before how I think we’re living in a golden age of children’s literature. About how the books that are coming out these days are rich, vivid, wild things that demand to be read. And I think it’s worthwhile to recognise the role that book covers play in that. So.
A book cover is a brilliant thing. It’s the first part of the story that we, in a way, read. It’s the first thing we see and quite often our first interaction with the actual text. And as such a thing, it needs to be something quite special.
It needs to stand out. It needs to be palpably of its book. There needs to be something there, on that cover, that says, quite irrevocably, you are about to read this book and I am part of that reading.
And I think, that sometimes, somehow, that the best ones don’t even need words. There’s an element, of course, of familarity to them – you understand the front covers because you’ve bought into that series. You are committed to the reading. But I think in a way that a good front cover is still identifiable without that actual reading of the book itself. It is an appetiser, if you will, the hors d’ouevres of what’s about about to come. And then, once you’ve experienced the world, it is the dessert, the icing on the cake, the sealing of the parcel. It’s got to be everything to everyone, before, after, and during the reading.So here’s a test for you and a bit of a nerdishly exciting experimentat for myself. Can you identify all of these covers in this post? And if you don’t know them – what do they suggest to you? What sort of book do they belong to?
(And if you do know them, are they the covers you’d have chosen?)
The answers are here. In Invisotext! (select and highlight from this point on). Cover A: The Kindle edition of the Hunger Games series (Suzanne Collins), Cover B: Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Hard Luck (Jeff Kinney), Cover C: The Hesperus Press reprint of The Railway Children (Edith Nesbit)