I was looking at the new and recent picturebook releases for this year and I noticed that most of the books covers featured girls. And amongst those, a noticeable few featured girls who were alone on the cover. I don’t mean completely alone- just not with their (humanoid!) friends or family. I began to wonder how different they (the writers, illustrators, and designers) could make these protagonists/heroines. I wonder how many similarities and differences and peculiarities our team will notice. Do let us know if you’ve noticed something or thought of something that we’ve overlooked. And perhaps, next week, I shall do a similar collection lone boys on picturebook covers …
Until that time, enjoy!
The Table Sets Itself by Ben Clanton
Janet: The title? The girl followed by marching tableware and cutlery? I’m intrigued.
Yash: It looks cute but a bit old-timey? (Maybe I just don’t want to read about a girl learning to set the table? Even if it means she can charm the cutlery onto the table?) I’d read the back. Maybe.
Nafiza: I would have liked it better had it been a boy setting the table instead. It’s cute but it’s reinforcing gender stereotypes so I’d pass.
Steph: At first glance, this is adorable. It looks cute and quirky – I think the quirky is what Yash is referring to as ‘old-timey’ and I can see that. I might be worried that this book would be a little boring. It seems pretty clear what will happen, the girl is given a job and through imaginary/”magical” hijynx it is completed. I’d take a look through. If the art doesn’t create humour or the words aren’t funny enough then maybe this is a no.
Moonday by Adam Rex
Janet: I’ll trust Yash on this one, since I can’t see from my monitor whether this one actually is, in fact, a girl. I like the moon on principle. I would like to know whether the girl is reaching for it, or if she is pushing it away. The former hints at fantasy, the latter at impending doom.
Yash: I am fairly certain from people’s comments that it is a girl. And I love this cover. I don’t care what she’s doing with the moon- the fact that she has any power over the moon at all is awesome. Plus, I do love Adam Rex. So, I’m in.
Nafiza: I like this one. I can’t see whether it is a girl or a boy but I like how big the moon is. The moon implies cycling and since it’s a girl, I can read more into it concerning a girl and her growing up. I think for me it’s more like a girl coming to terms with her self though obviously this may be furthest from what the book is actually about. I’d read the back anyway.
Steph: I’m just confused entirely and would read the back to see what the heck is happening. There are a few things that would turn me off immediately (inner city kid discovers his/her own inner worth when they can control the moon, for example) so … I’ll need to read the back.
Ladybug Girl and the Big Snow by David Soman
Janet: A bit too cute for me. Although I like the dog. Was this self-published? It has a bit of that look to it.
Yash: Haha! It looks like a Youtube video turned picturebook! While I might not buy it, I might browse through for some amusement.
Nafiza: Meh. I don’t like it. It feels like it’s trying a bit too hard.
Steph: I have to agree with my collegues. It looks a little self done or cheap, like a staple bound plastic covered book with overly cutesy story and a heavy moral. No, I don’t think I’d even stop for this one.
Captain Cat by Inga Moore
Janet: If the old man head was removed from this cover, and if the girl was wearing pants (why is she in short shorts? That water looks COLD), I would like this. The seagulls, coastline, and water are beautiful. The looming ship and the humans, not so much.
Yash: I agree with Janet on the clothing! The colour palette makes everything look chilly. I need to go put on a sweater myself as I look at this cover. However, I am pretty sure I want to read this. The old man with a fez, the cats, and the little girl … it’s all too intriguing.
Nafiza: I don’t have a problem with her shorts cuz it seems like summer and she’s obviously not objectified. I do like the whole set up of the girl against the system-ish or the old man could be kindly. I don’t know. I just like the palette of colours and the atmosphere evoked by the cover. I’d read this one.
Steph: As I am hardly ever cold I have to kudos that girl (who is rowing and so working up some heat) for wearing appropriate clothing :). As for the rest of it on first glance I really liked it and the sketchy inky pen style and the little boat and the crazy cats immediately had me thinking of Where the Wild Things Are and I liked it. However, the old man is a bit of a turn off for me. I’m already worried about how much time he takes up in the story and what he teaches the girl (or the girl teaches him). It would be much more attractive if they took him off the cover, then I’d be curious about the story, now I’m already worried about the ‘lesson’ or the relationship as opposed to the girl becoming the queen of the cats or something.
Red Knit Cap Girl to the Rescue by Naoko Stoop
Janet: The title bemuses me. However, moving on. The girl strongly reminds me of Joan Walsh Anglund’s picturebooks, with her wide-set dots for eyes, lack of nose and mouth, small hands and child-like roundish body, and colour scheme. The font is not at all reminiscent of JWA’s 1970s (and decades thereabouts) illustrations.
Yash: I think this cover is lovely! I like that she’s kind of Little Red but not? And I appreciate the bunny hanging on to glider.
Nafiza: This is so cute. I love the little yellow cape she’s wearing. The typography is playful as is the use of space on the cover. It would definitely attract me.
Steph: This is cute, and I think it’s meant to be cute. And Yash – this is totally a Little Red character, or modelled after her. ^_^; She’ll go on a mission meat a wolfish bad guy and, because she’s so darn adorable, I assume she survives her mission. I’ll be looking for twists on the original story in this one or maybe even any hint of tension.
Dot. by Randi Zuckerberg and Joe Berger
Janet: The blue hair is interesting, but otherwise this doesn’t grab me. Especially if that is supposed to be an ipad on the cover. Please tell me it isn’t.
Yash: I admit I picked this cover to note Janet’s reaction! ^_^ I myself am drawn to the fact that she looks like she’s wearing a vintage-y frock but has an eReader. But I’m not going to like it if the story leans too much on the side of eReaders, or favours books over everything else. I’d like a nice balance. Which … probably means I want to read it.
Nafiza: I’d pass over this. While I don’t mind the presence of the Ipad/ereader, the art just doesn’t do it for me.
Steph: I might pass over this too – she is kinda cute sort of Madeleine style? and the little dog is cute and I can assume will be the humour of the story. I dunno. Meh? If Yash likes it, I’ll take a gander.
Ella and the Balloons in the Sky by Danny Appleby and Lauren Pirie
Janet: Just not quite my style. It looks like she’s floating in the air, and yet she isn’t holding on to something that would keep her aloft, so I am left vaguely anxious because any minute she is going to fall and I don’t like that. Also, it’s a bit drab. Lots of off-white space, thin lines, and barely-there colours.
Yash: It looks like it might be heart-wrenching. Don’t judge me too harshly, but I do want to read this. (I think … Are those … teardrops on the cover?!)
Nafiza: I love this one. The sparse style, the balloons, the watermarks on the page, the promise of something uplifting, the colour palette. It’s just my thing. I need to find it and read it.
Steph: I feel like I am supposed to like this one, but I don’t know if I do. I too would be worried that she’d fall out of the sky all the time, and I also don’t like the colour scheme. Though if the book covers a heavy topic (like death or something) then perhaps the colours work? Of all the lone girls on these covers she actually looks lonely. I don’t know. I’m not really drawn to it.