Posted in Lists, Reading

10 MG & YA Books I Haven’t Read But Love to Look At

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. ]

#1:

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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.

#2:

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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.

#3:

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Title: The Firefly Code
Author: Megan Frazer Blakemore
Jacket IllustrationsManuel 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.

#4:

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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.

#5:

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Title: Fish in a Tree
Author: Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Cover Design & LetteringKristin 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.

#6:

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Title: Wolf Hollow
Author: Lauren Wolk
Hand LetteringSarah 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.

#7:

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Title: The Last Leaves Falling
Author: Sarah Benwell
Cover ArtistYuko 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.

#8:

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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.

#9:

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Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Cover Illustration of Landscape and SkyMark 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.

#10:

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Title: Shutter
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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Which book covers catch YOUR eye?

Posted in Random, Writing

Who Wants to Illustrate My Muse? 

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I’m not much of an artist (obviously), but I’d love to have an illustration of the muse I created in my “The Night Before Deadline” poem. Here are the lines that describe her:

For only a moment, my vision was blurred,
then on my desk perched a girl like a bird.
Her fingers were pencils, her toes were erasers,
her teeth, when she smiled, were sharper than razors,

perfect for cutting unneeded description
and murdering darlings with flawless precision.
Her feathery hair was purple and long,
and her delicate wings were the color of song.

She wore loose-fitting clothing with numerous pockets;
around her neck, hung trinkets and lockets.
Her colorful pants were rolled up to the knees
and ornamented with stitched memories.

She wiggled her nose and winked one green eye,
then stretched out her wings and started to fly.

Are there any artists/cartoonists/doodlers out there interested in bringing my muse to life for me? If so, send your picture to cariejuettner[at]gmail[dot]com by February 14, 2016 with the subject Your Muse. I’ll share the best images on my blog and then give a prize to my favorite representation of my fickle little friend.

Have fun! And be careful—she’s been known to bite.