Art Interlude: Unfortunate Cover Art (Part II)
A while back I wrote Art Interlude: Unfortunate Cover Art/ Good Story about book covers that just didn’t quite work. In many cases the art was misleading or confusing, occasionally it was just a poor choice altogether. There are plenty more such covers out there. So welcome to the second exploration that proves the old adage “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover”. I will stress that these are entirely my opinions on the matter and please feel free to state a different opinion in the comments below if you have one.
Now, on with the covers!
Momo by Michael Ende
For some reason I can’t locate the U.S. publication date and publisher on this. I believe it may be Puffin, but I’ll have to confirm at a later date
What you expect: Possibly a historical novel or musical in novel form. Performances by a chorus of cigar smoking suited men.
What you actually get: Michael Ende’s 1973 novel about an oddly gifted orphan girl in a huge tattered coat who lives on her own and has the power to listen. When the grey men come to town and start stealing everyone’s time, only she can stop it with the help of her friends and a lot of courage. It’s a fantasy story that attacks consumerism, the loss of childhood and the modern system of time measurement.
The Haunting by Margaret Mahy (Atheneum, 1982)
What You Expect: Two forbidding old men casting glares at the boy reading behind them . . . possibly on an airplane? By the title you might wonder if the boy is haunting them?
What You Get: One of my favorite contemporary fantasy stories about a boy who sees disturbing visions, but doesn’t know what they mean. By uncovering the history of his family he slowly learns more and more about the secrets of his own ancestry and who might be sending him the visions.
The Dreadful Future of Blossom Culp by Richard Peck (Laurel Leaf, c1983)
What You Expect: Teenager murders a really bizarrely dressed girl by bashing her head into a computer screen. We figure the future is basically DEATH!
What You Get: The third book in a series about a teenage psychic from 1914. In this book a time warp sends her into the future of the 1980s (the horror!) and once there, she’s got to find a way to get back to her own time again.
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (Greenwillow Books, c1986)
What You Expect: A giant evil glowing tree attacks a Sicilian chef scarecrow while an old woman journeys to town. Oh, and a castle.
What You Get: One of Ms. Jones most quirky and marvelous stories about Sophie, a girl under a terrible spell who goes to seek out the Wizard Howl and his fantastic moving castle in hopes that she might figure out how to break the curse. Plenty of magical mayhem, but no evil glowing trees or Sicilian chefs.
Winter of Magic’s Return by Pamela Service (Atheneum, 1985)
What You Expect: Harry Potter meets Star Wars.
What You Get: A post apocalyptic civilization dealing with the result of the nuclear war that decimated earth and the magic that has been flowing back into the land. A reborn Merlin and his friends must try and bring King Arthur back to the world.
So, lets try again with this title . . . shall we?
Winter of Magic’s Return by Pamela Service (Fawcett, 1986)
What You Expect: The post apocalyptic future is a huge acid trip.
What you Get:( see previous cover)
The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis (Scholastic Inc, 1995)
What You Expect: If you haven’t been reading the Narnia series, you might expect this is a book about Italy. Maybe a sunny historical fiction story set along the Italian seaside.
What You Get: The fifth story in the Narnia series and the only one that stays entirely in the fantasy realm. A book about a long lost prince, a talking horse and a wild adventure through an exotic landscape that will ultimately lead them both to a place where their dreams may come true.
Under Plum Lake by Lionel Davidson (Jonathan Cape, 1980)
What You Expect: The children from The Village of the Damned go on holiday.
What You Get: Our young protagonist, Barry befriends a strange boy who claims he comes from a world under Plum Lake that’s unknown to the humans above. Barry gets taken along to see this amazing world. When the adventure is done, his memory of it is taken away, but something still remains when he returns home.
The Homeward Bounders by Diana Wynne Jones (Mammoth, 1990)
What You Expect: Some kind of British school story where the building looks about to take off for outer space. Possibly because of the angry kid in front of it.
What You Get: One of Ms. Jones’ most quirky and bittersweet stories. A boy inadvertently discovers mysterious “Others” who are playing games with the lives of humans, these Others declare him to be a “discard” doomed to walk the boundaries of the worlds, but lost from his original home. Along with a handful of other Discards, he tries to find his way back home.
We can do better than this, surely.
The Homeward Bounders by Diana Wynne Jones (Ace, 1986)
What You Expect: Umm . . .I’m not sure what to think. Would you want to read it based on the cover?
What You Get: (see the above cover)
Mind-Call by Wilanne Schneider Belden (Atheneum, 1981)
What You Expect: A historical family saga that involves Clint Eastwood a bunch of kids and teens and a cat. (seriously, did they cut a bunch of pictures out of a yearbook for this?)
What You Get: A huge earthquake has decimated the landscape, a group of survivors with unusual mental gifts find themselves summoned by a strange call to the mysterious place known as Logan House.
What unfortunate cover choices can you think of?