The Cover Wars: Picturebooks


Welcome to Cover Wars, where we judge books by their covers! Up this week are a few picturebooks selected not entirely at random (there is no unifying theme, though, just whatever caught my eye).

The Word Collector

Steph: I quite like the simplicity of this one! I like the title and the font, I like the girl and how grubby she looks reaching down to pick up a word. The little creature is probably adorable (though I do cringe at the animal-anthropomorphized side-kick trope, but sometimes it can’t be helped – and sometimes it’s just done so well!). I would for sure pick it up and read through it.

Janet: The title caught me. I do wonder what she is stooping to pick up – a word? How can this be? – but the concept intrigues. Also, is that a lemur on a suitcase? The background colour is reminiscent of archaeological digs. I’d read this just for the title.

Yash: Yup. I’d love to read this one. The title is intriguing, the art is beautiful (look at all that yellow, or er, yellow-ness), and that scrappy looking redhead (is this a trope now?) who clearly lives (and rules) in a world of her own. It just looks so whimsical and fun. And the cat (or is it a lemur?) will, I’m sure, add to the cuteness and the hilarity.

Nafiza: I like the art and I like how the characters are drawn in motion. I just think I may need to see the picturebook in person to get a clearer perception of it. Right now I feel there is a bit too much empty space for my liking but I think there’s more to the cover than is visible through this medium.

rain or shine

Steph: This one looks like a classic. I happen to know it’s a wordless picturebook full of lovely art and detail. I really like wordless picturebooks because, more than picturebooks with words, they can be for just about anyone. They let the imagination go wild! Wondering what the characters in the picture are seeing or thinking can be enjoyable for even the most sophisticated reader. It’s a great way to engage any reader level (even reluctant readers!). This one looks like it’ll be full of the same beautiful art that adorns the cover, grounded in the real world, just the simplicity of life as a kid. I would certainly flip through it.

Janet: The colour! Oh yes. The children look like real children running through the grass on a summer day. I would read this. (Side note: this and The Word Collector both feature girls in blue dresses… Not planned! I wonder how common it is to depict small girls in dresses?)

Yash: I agree with Steph. The art looks pretty old school. I am interested by Steph’s comment that it is a wordless picturebook, but I am not sure if this is enough for me to pick it up. I’m sure, however, given the active kids and the cheery colours, this is a cover that attracts many readers.

Nafiza: This does not work for me at all for many reasons. One, the title font is not to my liking and two, this seems very much like a non-diverse book that will have very little in it for me personally. It speaks to a certain kind of audience and I’m not part of it.

no monkeys not chocolate

Steph:  🙁 what if I deserve chocolate? I kind of wish the colours on this one popped out a little more. There is a baby monkey on the cover, that plus the captions from the worms lead me to think that we are looking at a picturebook aimed at a fairly young readership. However, it also looks like it could be talking about the actual process of growing and harvesting cocoa (in which monkeys are a part of the process, I believe) and making chocolate? And then there are also the worms. I’m curious how the story will be framed and what it will be about – and how many layers will be going on – so I’d flip through it, but there needs to be such a balance between all those things (fiction, science, humour). Interesting concept.

Janet: I’d be interested to see how the little worm-things with speech-bubbles interact with the text. That and the colours remind me of The Magic School Bus, so I’d look at it. I agree with Steph about the colours, though, the cover would be more eye-catching if it was a little bolder.

Yash: Haha! I love the title! And the cute monkeys on the cover! I wonder if it does, as Steph says, look at the process of harvesting cocoa. I wonder if it will go into the trade side of things or stay firmly in the science (and the more positive) side of things. (Is there a book for kids on fair trade?) Yeah, I think I would read this one. I’m quite curious about what they have to say about chocolate. And monkeys.

Nafiza: I don’t much care about this cover. I neither like it nor do I hate it. I just have no feelings at all toward it. I’m a bit burnt out on monkeys though – five little monkeys jumping on the bed…yeah. Anyway. 🙂

The fox and the hen

Steph: Looks like an Aesop fable retelling or something. I like the illustration style! I’m sensing that the cover gives us a good idea what the story will be about – the hen looks like she is offering an egg to the fox who is offering a worm. Perhaps the fox will constantly try to get the egg from the hen or it will be a story about the hen trying to get her egg back from the fox. A trickster tale – I’d flip through it, but there are some high standards for these kinds of retelling. I want the hero to both be outsmarted and outsmart the trickster in the end – it’s gotta be funny and full of antics – and the moral of the story… well I wonder how they’ll tackle that. If there will be one, if it is well communicated. Haha, based on the cover though! I would probably pick it up and read through it. Darn picturebooks! I’d read them all! They’re so short and beautiful!

Janet: Not my favourite style of illustration but I love trickster tales, which this definitely promises to be. The look on that fox’s face! And the earnest-looking hen, who must be up to something more than she appears capable of… I’m in. What is the fox holding out? I can’t quite see.

Yash: I agree with Janet here! Not my favourite illustration style but I love that it’s a variation on the trickster tale. I wonder what they’re trying to trade off on the cover there. And I wonder if it’s going to be anything like Mo Willem’s picturebook That Is Not A Good IdeaYeah, I’d probably pick this one up.

Nafiza: Oh I like this. I like the palette and the art style too. I don’t know what the story is about but I feel like there is a deal happening and I want to know what it is. The hen seems sassy and the fox wily. It promises to be a good story.

I wanna iguana

Steph: Rhyme! What fun. The art style on the front is cartoony and bright, and the title alludes to some fun antics and imaginings. That said, I might not actually read all the way through this one – it depends how captivating the first couple of pages of rhyme are. The images themselves are charming, but… what are the words like?

Janet: Urgh, “wanna” … Still, despite the prematurely receding hairline on that boy, the shark-like dog, and the “wanna”, I do want to know what happens with that iguana. If Steph likes the words, I’d read it.

Yash: Haha! I was just going to say that I like the use of “Wanna” and that they made it rhyme with “Iguana” and also that there is an iguana in this story at all. I love it. There are quite enough stories about kitties and puppies (both, perfectly acceptable animal familiars) but not enough picturebooks about iguanas, you know? I am curious about what the story is actually about, but hey, there’s only one solution to that problem!

Nafiza: Haha, I, too, want to know whether that’s a young boy or an old man. Benjamin Button! Anyway, I like the colour palette and the coterie of strange characters. The iguana’s spikes are cook, rather like a mohawk. I’m curious. How do you iguana?