Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Coverflips

What am I RE-reading now?  Mystic and Rider (Sharron Shinn Twelve Houses #1)
Annnd . . . what do I think so far? Yes, I'm re-reading this series, not only because I really, really love these books, but also because I want to learn how the author makes the characters so memorable. The series has magic, civil unrest, war, political intrigue, love, overwhelming odds, fights to the death...ahhhh a great book for relaxing. Oh, yes, I would highly recommend this series (and this author, who has many more books) to anyone who loves high fantasy and/or romance, but you have to overlook the Fabio-like cover on one book.

Here's the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th in the series. Can you guess which one I'm teasing as Fabio-esque?

The first four books follow six friends, each taking the spotlight in a book (I know--6 friends, 4 books not adding up! But trust me this is literature not math--and it works.) The fifth book follows a minor character and while a good story with excellent writing, it just seemed like a very long epilogue to the series and ties up some loose ends.

So, you've had a minute to think it over--if you guessed Book 3, Dark Moon Defender, you're right. I think the romantisized pose is kinda (read: extremely) out there for the series and nothing at all like the character! And that brings me to my post:

COVERFLIPS
Maureen Johnson (Author of 13 Little Blue Envelopes, a great YA book) has a fun idea--COVERFLIPS. Sometimes books get saddled with covers that don't really belong with the story. They aren't always distractors but they misrepresent the content. For example: once I read a book with a ornate antique necklace on the cover--but no necklace in the whole book! I kept waiting, thinking it would be important. Nope. Nada. The "contract" the book cover set up with me when I chose the book was unfulfilled, and I kind of felt jilted.

COVERFLIPS grew from the idea that books should have gender neutral covers so anyone would feel comfortable buying and reading the book. This is a big concept in schools. Kids stand at the library shelves and look at covers without even reading cover copy to decide if they'll give it a chance.

Recently a book I love (and kids like to read) was given a cover make-over for the release of the paperback version. The hard back cover suggested a classroom scene while the paperback cover was definitely a romantic moment. And the thing is--the romantic moment doesn't capture the theme, problem or main character arc--that book was not about romance. But it did stop boys from picking it up.

Maybe a book is about the romance and it would be appropriate for the cover, but if it's not then readers can feel manipulated and disrespected by such prominent placement. I think there is a lot of public comment on it right now because covers are veering off what consumers want and expect, and in some cases being viewed as gimmicky. Trust matters. Even on book covers.

Maybe this would be a fun activity with students next year (as part of book reports), ask them to design a cover that matches the story. I think I'd be able to see what the students understood as the main ideas in the books, the character traits or arc or the metaphors and the themes presented in the book, as well as have an outlet for their own creative expression.

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