The Cover Wars: Middle Grade Magic

If you don’t know what the cover wars is, it’s exactly what it sounds like. We use (light?) sabres to battle over the covers. Only not really. Today it’s all about the covers gracing the books aimed at middle grade readers. Were the creators successful in “creating art and not ads?” Read on to find out.


Janet: Phonetics? This cover is so intriguingly non-revelatory that I want to find out more.

Steph: It looks like it might be a little like Susin Nielson’s Word Nerd, but I enjoy word play and phonetics – so perhaps I’d give it a back cover glance? The blue cover, and the ‘mocking’ is also reminiscent of Mockingjay but that could also be because I live in the dystopia world. As for an ad – the cloud shapes kind of make me want to eat Jelly Beans.  

Nafiza: This is a bit plain for my tastes but as Janet said, it is so non-revelatory, I’d read the back to find out what it’s about. (Actually, it’s on my reading list so I must have liked what the synopsis said, eh?)

Yash: I must agree with Janet and Nafiza. It’s pleasing to the eye but it doesn’t say much, does it? And yet, I would prefer this cover to almost 90% of all YA covers. Moronic design/photography decisions. I too would read the back but mainly because of the A+ title.


Janet: I feel like my opinions are not entirely fair this week, because they are all partially based on the title of the book, not just on its cover. But here goes: Not my favourite colour scheme, the turquoise gets muddy at the bottom, but other than that this looks neat. Except for that stack of books. That bothers me, because the stack is just about to collapse and spray books into the water.

Steph: Obsession? I mean, in terms of the ad or cover question – it is the title that makes me think of consumer culture more than the cover. I mean the cover, binos and books make me think of research or maybe stalking – obsession again. I don’t know. I just don’t know.

Nafiza: I found out about this book on a bus ride with an MLIS student  (I want to say Jane but I ‘m not sure) but she made the book sound so awesome so I looked it up and the cover is fantastic. I admit it’s the cat though once again, I’ll agree with Janet, the fate of the books makes me nervous.

Yash: So, I actually like the blue and yellow colour scheme happening here. However, I do not like that the cat and the books are disproportionate in size to the rest of the stuff on the cover. Everything else looks, well, right? Okay, wait, that’s a lie- the girl is also rather tall. I dunno. I may read the back, but I probably won’t give it a go … The cover has a bit too much and not in a nice way.


Janet: Enh. I like the dark turquoise, and the bookshelves. But the silhouette – not so neat. Why are silhouettes never of normal people? I don’t mind that she’s skinny and huge-headed, because this is a child. But why is she wearing short shorts? Not practical for children (or anyone, really), they leave way too much skin vulnerable to bruises and scrapes during playtime. Or investigation, since the cover seems designed to invoke 1920s and 1930s crime/detective novels. The one foot in the room, however, does give her a more demanding, active presence than most silhouettes do, so that’s to the good.

Steph: This is very similar to The Templeton Twins cover (or maybe Who Could That Be At This Hour cover)! Oh and all those other books with blue covers and silhouettes. It looks mysterious, like a detective novel. I give it a meh, and maybe a read just for fun but I haven’t got the time and this doesn’t look that pressing.

Nafiza: The title wins my love and the books on the side keeps it. I like the attitude in the pose of the little girl and I like the colour scheme. The cover doesn’t give away what the book is about so I’d read the back and maybe more.

Yash: I like the girl’s posture and I love that she is surrounded by books that she probably hasn’t read yet. It’s kind of exciting- all the blues, and the books, and the silhouette. And I agree with Steph, it feels like a detective novel. And yet the title sounds pretty relaxing in a slice-of-life kind of way. Two fairly contradictory categories, in my opinion. You know what? I think I kinda like it? Maybe it’s like Northanger Abbey for kids. A girl who is affected by murder mystery novels and has enough time to imagine herself into one?


Janet: I like the fish, but I would also like to know why they are all swimming on their sides. That can’t be comfortable. The use of a digit in the title, rather than the word for the digit (7 instead of seven) irks me. But I do like the fish and the use of white space.

Steph: Interesting. References to ‘plenty of fish in the sea’ and how one might stand out. Significance of the number ‘7’ as Janet pointed out is intriguing. It looks like it might be realistic though perhaps with a little magic? I’m not sure I’m up for another oddball protagonist making their way through life. *sighs*

Nafiza: I like eating fish? But I like the tagline – swimming against the currents. Again, the book doesn’t give away what the novel is about and Steph’s right, it could very well turn out realistic. But hey, I like oddball protagonists so I’m quite all right with that.

Yash: Oooh, I love the artwork for this! Pretty much all children’s/YA novels are about “outsiders” trying to “fit in” and this one is a bit too direct about that, but I would read this purely because look at those pretty fishies! And I don’t even like fish! And I love the numerical 7. It draws attention to the title, in case the red fish doesn’t do the trick. I think it’s clever.


Janet: No. “Ghost” is a noun, not a verb. There is no “ghosting.” Ugh. Aside from that… I’m not that interested. I can’t tell what’s going on in the cover – why are her eyes closed? Is he frightened or welcoming or trying to catch her attention? What are her hands doing? Is he locked in the tower or does he choose to be there? – so unless someone recommends this, I’d probably pass.

Steph: They verbed it! AHAHA! I’ll read it because I love ghosts. I like the colours. I’m a little nervous that this will be a Romeo and Juliet retelling  – balcony, death etc… but I do love Shakespeare… So, I would read it. ^_^

Nafiza: Paquette has absolutely fabulous covers. And the colours are a bit of a fright (no pun intended) but they express the tone quite nicely. Here’s the synopsis in case you were interested:

Twelve-year-old Dahlia has always lived at Silverton Manor-having spent fifty years as its resident ghost. When Oliver Day and his family show up as house-sitters the day Mrs. Tibbs, a Liberator sent by the Spectral Investigative Council, arrives to teach Dahlia the proper rules for ghosting, Dahlia can’t wait to make new friends. But the unscrupulous ghost hunter, Rank Wiley, and the crooked town councilman, Jock Rutabartle, plan to rid Silverton Manor of its ghosts and sell it to the highest bidder. With her home and friendships at stake Dahlia may have to break the rules of ghosting as quickly as she learns them to solve the mystery of her death and save the manor. Equal parts charming and eerie, this ghostly caper hits all the right notes for the middle-grade audience.

Yash: I love when people verb things*! I will forever be on the wonderful Stephen Fry’s side of this particular issue. (Apologies Janet!) It follows that I love this title. The colour scheme is perfect for what the summary suggests and I’m sensing a kind of reversal of Peter Pan. It’s the boy who is stationary and the girl who is flying. I like it. I’m in.


Janet: This is a bit more sci-fi and steampunk than I usually go for, but the title, night sky, cityscape-as-gears, lanterns, and the boy beside crack-of-light caught me immediately. Anyone have a copy?

Steph: This looks adorbs. Steampunk! Mystery! Ambiance!

Nafiza: This looks so fantastic. I love how though there are many elements, they are unified by the colour theme. This is a 2014 release, Janet, so we’ll be have to wait a while to get our hands on it.

Yash: I told Nafiza that I needed a gold star sticker for one of the covers and this one is it. It is absolutely perfect- art, design, font, title, everything! I wouldn’t even read the back. I’d just buy it.

*Except maybe “party”. It is especially cringe-worthy when someone says “par-tay”. It seems like such a white frat boy thing to say.