I know, I know. You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover. But it’s really hard not to when the cover artists do such an amazing job. Here are ten middle grade & young adult novels that keep catching my eye at the bookstore. I can’t wait to find out if they’re as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside.
[ Quick Note: It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be to find the artists and illustrators behind some of these gorgeous books. Often their names don’t appear on the copyright page, which I find odd. Instead they’re on the back flap of the jacket. But that’s not something you can usually find online, so I had to make a couple of trips back to the bookstore (okay, twist my arm) to get all the info I needed for this post. These artists deserve to be known. They’re work is outstanding. So don’t just look at the book covers. Take time to check out their websites too. ]
Title: The Night Parade
Author: Kathryn Tanquary
Cover Illustration: Alexander Jansson
I love everything about this cover: the gorgeous pink-purple tree, the swirly blues and greens, the adorably creepy creatures, the lanterns… everything. I could look at this picture all day.
Title: Wishing Day
Author: Lauren Myracle
Jacket Art: Julie McLaughlin
Another tree and more swirly purples and greens! What can I say? I’m a tree-loving, swirly color kind of girl. I love the birds and moon and stars in this picture too. Julie McLaughlin also illustrated The Girl in the Well is Me, which is a great book inside and out.
Title: The Firefly Code
Author: Megan Frazer Blakemore
Jacket Illustrations: Manuel Sumberac
Ok, so obviously I’m into silhouettes, in addition to the colors purple and green. I love this cover because it’s so alive, full of adventure. Plus, the kids on bikes bring to mind the kids in Stranger Things, and anything that reminds me of that show is a good thing.
Title: A Clatter of Jars
Author: Lisa Graff
Jacket Art: Fernando Juarez
I like the contrasts in this cover — the far away houses and close-up frog, the whimsical quality mixed with something just a little bit ominous, as we see below the surface of the water and notice the broken leg of the character in the background. There’s a lot to take in here. And of course, some greens and purples.
Title: Fish in a Tree
Author: Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Cover Design & Lettering: Kristin Logsdon
Sometimes the simplest covers are the ones that catch my eye. The brightly-colored, boxy letters and very literal image (a fish, in a tree) on this book have made me pick it up multiple times.
Title: Wolf Hollow
Author: Lauren Wolk
Hand Lettering: Sarah J. Coleman
Silhouette & Watercolor: Tony Sahara
And… we’re back to silhouettes and trees. 🙂 Admittedly, I didn’t realize how many things these middle grade covers had in common until I started describing them. Still, I would never say they look the same. Each is unique. I love the rich golden glow of this one and the way the tree trunks are made up of words.
Title: The Last Leaves Falling
Author: Sarah Benwell
Cover Artist: Yuko Shimizu
I guess on this cover, we’re in the tree. I love the perspective of this illustration. The birds, the leaves, the transparency of the orange box around the title, the character looking up at us, and his shadow… it’s all so evocative. And a little bit heartbreaking.
Title: All the Bright Places
Author: Jennifer Nivan
Hand-Lettering & Illustrations: Sarah Watts
This one mainly appeals to me because I love sticky notes. 🙂 But there’s more to it than that. I like how it has depth (I totally want to reach out and smooth down that one yellow corner) and I love how friendly and whimsical the lettering is. (Yes, lettering can be friendly.) The colors and style of this cover just relay a sense of peace and serenity. It’s caught my eye on multiple occasions.
Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Cover Illustration of Landscape and Sky: Mark Brabant
Hand-lettering and Illustrations in Sky: Sarah J. Coleman
I love the lettering and the symbols and the teal color of the sky, and of course the old red truck in the corner. Just perfect. This book has actually been on my reading list for a while now. It was the cover that first grabbed me, but hearing Benjamin Alire Sáenz give the keynote speech at this year’s Writers’ League of Texas conference definitely made me want to hear more of what he has to say. Plus, when you can’t see the whole cover for all the awards the book has won… that’s a pretty good sign.
Author: Courtney Alameda
Cover Art: Khita Knight
Did you really think this list would be complete without at least one horror novel? Come on. I love this creepy cover. The eyes of the shadow/smoke monster bore into my soul in the best way.
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6 thoughts on “10 MG & YA Books I Haven’t Read But Love to Look At”
I love your choices! I agree; these are all great. And it’s fun to see that most of them fit a sort of theme or aesthetic. You clearly know what you like. 🙂 Of these, my favorites are Wolf Hollow and Fish in a Tree. Fun!
Aren’t they pretty? I find your two favorites interesting since they’re such different covers. 🙂
It is sad that you had to do so much work to find the names of the cover illustrators, especially when a well done cover can sometimes be all it takes to skyrocket a book into the public’s attention and high acclaim. Love this collection of books; the covers are all telling of Things Carie Likes. 😊
Ahhh! “Things Carie Likes”! A long list full of wondrous things indeed. 🙂
Carie, sorry I’m tardy in commenting…..
Every time you post something I feel a kindred spirit with you. I can see myself lingering long over these images as well. I have the same affinity for certain colors, anything with lanterns or fireflies (the mystery of the night), anthropomorphism of trees, etc. You are so very clever to have turned this into a post!
Thank you! Yes, we definitely do have a lot in common. Kindred spirits for sure! 🙂 I just started thinking how little praise I see for cover artists, considering that their work is often what makes people first pick up a book. There are so many covers I could include in this list, but I wanted to specifically include books I HAVEN’T read to prove that it really was the art drawing me to it.