The Cover Wars – where we judge books by their covers and their back copy. It’s honestly what we all do when we go to bookstores and libraries – and it’s honestly surprising how much we actually judge a book by it’s cover! Join in in the comments! 🙂
Set amidst the red soil and sweltering heat of small town Alabama in the 1930s, HOODOO tells the story of twelve-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher, who is born into a family with a rich tradition of practicing folk magic, or Hoodoo, as most people call it.
They use foot-track powder that can go up through your foot to make you sick, a black hen’s egg for getting rid of evil spirits, nutmeg seeds for good luck at gambling and all kinds of other things.
But even though his name is Hoodoo, he can’t seem to cast a simple spell.
When a mysterious man called the Stranger shows up in town—all wrapped in black like some kind of holy roller preacher—Hoodoo starts having dreams of a dead man rising from the grave. Even worse, he soon learns the Stranger is looking for a boy. Not just any boy. A boy named Hoodoo.
Can he summon the magic to save his town and family?
Steph: The last line wasn’t what I expected, I thought he’d have to save himself from this stranger guy and assumed he’d have to save his whole town in the end – but I suppose that’s minor. I like the cover, it’s very colourful and does the job of evoking the 1930’s Alabama heat and mist laced swamps. This sounds very similar to Arthur Slade’s Dust or even perhaps Paranorman, both of which I really quite enjoyed, and so I think I would give this a go. It has a nice texture to it already, haha, I don’t really know what I mean, but the story has substance I guess. It may not be that fresh, I mean we have here the age old plot of: a boy who is struggling to come into his own and who must face his short-comings and fears in order to survive/save loved ones, but I think the setting and the tone are doing it for me. 🙂
Yash: Oooh! I love that art style! And the colours! And Steph didn’t even have something against the bird! And the story sound great! Though I am suspicious of the complete lack of female characters and the fact that once more the POC is silhouetted, I think I’m gonna add this to my TBR list!
Janet: The cover says that this will be a very creepy story (that bird’s eye!) but Hoodoo’s struggles sound interesting. I’m curious as to how the magic will turn out – what are the rules, or are there none?
Nafiza: I think I’d have to read the first few pages to see if the narrative evokes that warm molasses-like tone that I come to expect from books set in the South. That said, the premise is intriguing and the cover evocative. I think I’d give this a go just to see how Hoodoo calls the magic.
A quirky, funny, and utterly irresistible story from Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers, two of the finest children’s book creators on the planet.
Did you know that sometimes, with a little electricity, or luck, or even magic, an imaginary friend might appear when you need one? An imaginary friend like Fred.
Fred floated like a feather in the wind until Sam, a lonely little boy, wished for him and, together, they found a friendship like no other.
The perfect chemistry between Eoin Colfer’s text and Oliver Jeffers’s artwork makes for a dazzlingly original picture book.
Steph: And then you get the books with the unfair advantage of having been written by someone fabulous and famous and also illustrated by someone fabulous and famous. Of course I’ll read this. I don’t know yet if I’ll buy it. I generally enjoy the more imaginative and whimsical picturebooks so I’ll probably like this – to love it it’s going to have to have a depth to it, a dual meaning and a connection to audiences of all ages – which both of these authors can accomplish so it’s quite possible. But we shall see.
Yash: Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers? *wipes at the screen where her brains have been smeared all over it* Can I preorder this yet??
Janet: I’ve liked books by both of these authors, but (whispers guiltily) neither of them is my favourite. I’ll undoubtedly read it at some point, but the cover doesn’t appeal. The synopsis is overselling its case by talking about Colfer and Jeffers at the beginning AND at the end; maybe that’s why I’m resistant, because the bit about Fred floating like a feather in the wind is lovely.
Nafiza: I enjoy Oliver Jeffers though I’ve yet to read anything I really love by Eoin Colfer (because I haven’t read much by him?) but I generally love picturebooks and am certain I’m going to enjoy this one. The synopsis is just so lovely.
From the author of the backlist favorite You Don’t Know Me, a dramedy about the agony of victory and the thrill of defeat.
At Jack Logan’s sports-crazy New Jersey high school, the new rule is that all kids must play on a team. So Jack and a ragtag group of anti-athletic friends decide to get even. They are going to start a rebel JV soccer team whose mission is to avoid victory at any cost, setting out to secretly undermine the jock culture of the school. But as the team’s losing formula becomes increasingly successful at attracting fans and attention, Jack and his teammates are winning in ways they never expected—and don’t know how to handle.
Steph: The cover on this one is simple and eye catching and kind of refreshing. Really, it represents almost exactly what the back copy spells out for us. Honestly, I’m not generally into the sports (and that includes the anti-sports) stories but I have a feeling that I will like this – mostly because I totally would have wanted to do the same thing if I had been forced to be on a sports team I just would have detested it. In this way I don’t think I’m alone and so I think these characters are going to be charmingly relatable to my inner child and kids today who just aren’t athletic – it happens. BUT! Of course, team sports have their good side and that is – building a team, working together and that wonderful competitive spirit which I think we’ll see a little of in this nerd happy book.
Yash: I like the broken foam finger and the title and the tagline! It all works together really well … I have to say, even though I’m not into sports, I might be interested in this one. I mean, a rebel sports team? I am so curious to see how that goes down!
Janet: I never understood the point of foam hands or sports team fan culture. I’ll leave this to Steph and Yash.
Nafiza: I seriously loved You Don’t Know Me which was just all kinds of brutally honest and forced the reader to think from the protagonist’s perspective in a “I won’t allow you to turn the page and forget about me” way. I haven’t read anything by David Klass but I’m so ready to. I am not too keen on the cover but I think the content inside is going to be superlative–or I hope so anyway.
With no family and very few friends, Lucky’s psychic ability has always made her an outcast. The only person she can rely on is Kayla, the ghost girl who has been with her since she was born.
But Kayla is not all that she appears.
And when Lucky is visited by a demonic assassin with a message for her friend, she finds herself dragged into the Underlands – and the political fight for the daemon king’s throne.
Lucky, trapped in the daemon world, is determined to find her way home… until she finds herself caught between the charms of the Guardian Jamie, the charismatic Daemon of Death Jinx – and the lure of finding out who she really is.
Steph: We named the dog Lucky! (get the reference?) So, the cover, to me, is SO reminiscent of romance novels, right? The ones that are marketed to the literary crowd? It’s very flouffy and pretty and airy and swirly and girly. I mean, it’s nice, but the cover alone wouldn’t grab me because I peg it right away as a literary romance – which perhaps it is since she’s caught between the good guy and the bad guy. Yet the back copy does promise some interest, we get ghosts and underworld politics and daemons and stuff – I think I’ll keep an eye on reviews of this one. I don’t want to get super invested just for the whole story to turn into a romance that ignores all the other plot and world-building the author has done… that’s my worry, but still… I’m intrigued.
Yash: I totally get where Steph is coming from. You can always tell when something is being marketed to “grown-ups” and this is what it looks like. That said, I really love the semi-present bird/angel/demon/guess whatever it is with the wings. I can easily picture myself picking this up at a store to read the back. And the synopsis is super impressive too. I am totally reading this!
Janet: The opening sentence of the synopsis is an example of faulty alignment. The first sentence declares that Lucky’s psychic ability has few family and friends; I presume what was meant was that Lucky has few family and friends. Like Yash, I like the shredding wings. Who knows what sort of creature they are attached to? The colour scheme and understated style are attractive. The swirl on the front cover and the last few pages of the synopsis, however, promise a romance-heavy story, as Steph points out. I’ll wait for Yash’s review.
Nafiza: While I like the minimalist cover, the synopsis totally loses me. Like Janet, the first sentence tripped me over because it’s awkward–is it because of Lucky’s psychic ability that she has few friends? Because if she already has no family and few friends, then the psychic ability cannot be blamed for her aloneness. Anyway, the promise of the love triangle took away whatever interest I had in finding out about Lucky. This is not for me.
Be afraid, be very afraid of Terrifying Tales, the sixth volume in the Guys Read Library of Great Reading.
Eleven masters of suspense—Kelly Barnhill, Michael Buckley, Adam Gidwitz, Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown, Claire Legrand, Nikki Loftin, Daniel José Older, Dav Pilkey, R.L. Stine, and Rita Williams-Garcia—have come together to bring you a bone-chilling collection of original ghost stories with illustrations by Gris Grimly, perfect for sharing around the campfire, reading under the covers with a flashlight, and scaring your friends’ pants off.
Compiled and edited by kid-lit madman Jon Scieszka, Guys Read: Terrifying Tales is a creepy-fun read (if you’re brave enough, that is).
Steph: Oh the Guys Read series. I’m kind of torn on this whole idea. On the one hand, it’s great – right there in front of you are a set of books that will be enjoyable to guys and the male reluctant reader. On the other, it kind of ostracizes potential female (or anyone who doesn’t identify with “guy”) readers and honestly, something created by Scieszka and which includes names like Gidwitz, Pilkey, Williams-Garcia, Stine and Grimly, well, it’s probably going to be enjoyable for all! It’ll be accessible, gross, funny and probably a little hair-raising. I like the covers on the series, I really like their texture and colour scheme. I have one on my shelf actually, I just haven’t gotten to it yet.
Yash: I have no opinion on this. I’m not a guy or a reluctant reader who’s into “guys’ stories”. I’d walk right past this one. (That is not to say, someone else wouldn’t pick this one up. I mean, it’s edited by Scieszka.) Gotta say, it bums me out that there’s a dead girl on a book meant for guys.
Janet: I’m not into ghost stories or specifically guys’ stories. I do like the expression on the boy’s face, but that isn’t enough to tempt me.
Nafiza: I don’t see why it has to be explicitly “guys’ stories” when the strength of literature depends on how it’s written and the story it tells rather than the audience it is marketed to. I thought we were past the whole “this is for boys” and “this is for girls”–the partition. Meh. I do agree with Yash though about the dead girl.