The Cover Wars: A Lone Boy

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Last week, we warred over lone girl picturebook covers. This time, I sought out some new/recent releases that featured lone boys. Let’s go!

Fossil by Bill Thomson

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Janet: Because fossils are just lying out there, waiting for a boy to crawl over and pick them up? I do not like the grabby hand.

Yash: I am struck by the fact that I could not find any science-y stuff involving little girls for my last Cover Wars post. Hmm. Anyway, while I like fossils, I have to say, this is not the most enticing cover ever. I mean, fossils can be literally billions of years old and is one of the few times it is acceptable for a child to gawk at the remnants of a dead thing. This could have been way cooler …

Steph: I agree, this could have been so much cooler! Instead it’s just Grabby Mc.Grabbinson reaching for a rock that has a fossil of a … feather? fern? I like the idea of learning about archaeology, excavation and just about finding fossils on the beach so I might scan through it to see what it talks about but, yeah, not sure I’d buy it or borrow it.

Nafiza: This cover looks like it belongs in one of my nightmares. A giant hand coming out of the sky to pluck me from my safe place, where I am cowering in fear. And yes, I am empathizing with a fossil but what can you do? I think there could have been a dozen other ways this cover could have been done to better express the content of the book.

The Christmas Cat by Maryann Macdonald

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Janet: I’m torn between thinking this is overly cute and going “awwwwww.” The boy’s head looks a bit oversized, but I do like the kitten.

Yash: As I understand it this isn’t just any lone boy. It’s supposed to be a nativity story, you guys! Based of off these drawings by Da Vinci. I don’t think I have an opinion on this one. It seems cute and there’s a cat. Surely, it would make a good Christmas present? (I’ll leave you guys to figure out issues of race in this particular case. I don’t know enough.)

Steph: Well the white baby Jesus is pretty common and often unquestioned in Western Culture, we also enjoy cute kittens and big headed babies. The image is working with our market in mind. Not sure really how I feel about this… I mean, it’s interesting that the idea came from Da Vinci as opposed to the normal Christmas story sources (haha, are the ‘normal’ sources even real ‘sources’) – though it seems like it’ll have the heart-warming messages common to the Christmas story and that makes me question the whole premise again… ugh… I just get annoyed with Christmas marketing and cashing in on Christmas. I’m sceptical, but I am always sceptical when it comes to this sort of thing. Probably not. Sorry kitty.

Nafiza: Okay, first I saw the kitten and went “awww” because kittens, I love them and then I saw the head and I stared and then I stared some more because is it just me or is the body missing? I thought the baby was somehow buried in the…hay? Anyway, Stephie, I didn’t even think of baby Jesus because I’m so removed from all the marketing that occurs during Christmas featuring babies who are supposed to be Jesus. We had remarkably little Christmas marketing in Fiji or perhaps that was due to the lack of TV/Internet and the fact that Christmas to us mean pop and fruit case (actually, it still does).

Little Santa by Jon Agee

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Janet: The boy? Ugh. The reindeer? Awesome. I like the reindeer’s expression. Although I have no interest in reading about Santa, little or otherwise.

Yash: You know, I’m with Janet. It was all pretty awesome until … the title. i really just want a reindeer story.

Steph: Haha you guys, so you want the Reindeer to be the main character with all the agency? That would be an awesome story. I challenge one of you to write it. ^_^; As for this book, it’s cute, the simple image and clear font make it seem like it’ll be a really simple and easy read. I would go for this one over the kitty one if I had to buy a ‘Christmas-y’ gift.

Nafiza: Haha! How is he going to balance? He needs some support! Babies topple off remarkably quick. But really, I don’t like it. I’m with Janet and Yash, I like the reindeer and I want a snarky reindeer story where the reindeer is just so tired of both its name (rein + deer, it is defined by what it does?) and its occupation and sets off into the wilderness to find its tribe and get closer to nature than pulling around than Santa will allow him.

When Lions Roar by Robie H. Harris and Chris Raschka

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Janet: Very nice facial expression with the ink. Not a style I’d think of, but this one I would definitely take a look at.

Yash: Not an art style that I love. Again, like the science-y book, I was hard-pressed to find a picturebook involving a lone girl and a non-domestic animal. (There might have been one with a fox that loved the girl on the cover?) Which is why I chose this one. I do like it because it’s pretty unique, but I’m predisposed to dislike zoo/picnic related stories. Don’t really know why. Always have. Perhaps I’d read the back.

Steph: Yash, I just have to point out how much have ‘zoo’ on a slash with ‘picnic’ made me giggle and go, “What?” Anyway, I don’t really like this one. Not into the art, not into a little boy discovering the lion within or confidence or making friends with a lion… this one just strikes me as kind of… old? I think there will be a clear storyline and lesson/moral and I’m not really into that.

Nafiza: Unlike Yash, I like this style of art. It speaks to my inner child (stop snorting, she’s mostly inner now) who likes blobs of paint and the whimsy that accompanies it. I would have chosen a different font for the title though, I think it’s too sombre and not playful enough for the illustrations. I also don’t like how space is utilized on the cover.

Winter is for Snow by Robert Neubecker

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Janet: Like the title, but the drawing is too cartoony, almost Disney-like.

Yash: While I disagree with the title because winter is actually for hot chocolate, a good book, and a fireplace, I love the cartoon-y style. I want to know about the heart, though. Is he in love with the snow? Is the snow in love with him? Is he about to swallow a floating paper heart? I don’t understand. And I guess there’s no point arguing that there is too much snow on the cover when it’s title is well … yeah, no point. As much as I love the style I don’t think I’d pick it up.

Steph: YES! Winter is for snow and romping through it and making snow angels and sledding and tubing and skiing and steamed up glasses and mittens and boots and curling up beside a window and reading a book with a mocha (psssht, plain hot chocolate). I would read this because I agree with the title, haha, I agree that the art isn’t my favourite, but I want to see what the book has to say about snow and winter!

Nafiza: Winter is not for snow. Winter is for hot cups of coffee and guh, Steph, just reading your comment makes me shudder with cold. I do like this though and I did once try to catch a snowflake with my tongue. It’s cute and I’d pick it up for my niece.

Trouper by Meg Kearney

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Janet: I still don’t like photographs, but for a “true story” I suppose they’re meant to add verisimilitude. I bet this would have wrenched at my heartstrings if I read it in elementary or even high school.

Yash: Once more, I agree with Janet- photographs! Noooo! However, the cover looks a bit like a watercolour portrait and it mentions (in tiny letters) that E. B. Lewis does the paintings. So, wow. I mean, both Janet and I thought they were photographs. I wonder if there were photographs used for reference. Anyway, I would try and find this in the library and read it in the safety of my home where no one can see me cry.

Steph: No, not for me, the type face, the dog and his boy (or vice versa story), blech. BUT! I think this might be great for kids, so I would probably read it to find out what the story is – it’s gotta be better than Air Bud, right? Right?

Nafiza: Hmmmm. I don’t know. I feel like I’ve seen this too many times. The art is not to my taste and it seems to be intentionally sentimental – you know, designed to tug at your heartstrings instead of the tugging being a result of the storytelling. Kind of manipulative. But cynical adult aside, I think kids would actually love this. As Stephie says, it might be great for kids. And I’d take her word for it.