(Psst, hey Ruth: did you notice the “u” in the title?)
Remember how I mentioned yesterday that I worry about repeating myself? Well, I think I said something about not judging a book by its cover in one of these #BookADayUK prompts, and now here I am, judging a book, if not by its cover, then at least judging its cover.
This is a tricky one for me because a) I don’t often pay attention to a cover when I’m considering which books to read, and b) I love a gorgeous book cover, which appeals to my previous life as a graphic designer. (I say “previous” but it’s still part of my current reality, especially as I’m doing some design work for the Swoon reading series in Vancouver, which reminds me of something that’s lingering on my to-do list, but that’s a story for another day.) Anyway, there are a number of covers that I love, either because they’re done on wonderful paper or they feature a fantastic photograph or a beautiful painting or are embossed or have spot varnish or foil stamping.
My big weakness? Soft-touch aqueous coating. On the right paper, it creates a texture that feels like a flower petal. It has a matte look so you’re not expecting anything special until you pick it up, and then it’s just this gorgeous surprise.
So, there are two book covers I’m going to mention, neither of which has any of the special printing bells and whistles, but one features a gorgeous photo, and the other is a fantastic painting.
On the orders of his boyhood friend, now King Philip of Macedon, Aristotle postpones his dreams of succeeding Plato as leader of the Academy in Athens and reluctantly arrives in the Macedonian capital of Pella to tutor the king’s adolescent sons. An early illness has left one son with the intellect of a child; the other is destined for greatness but struggles between a keen mind that craves instruction and the pressures of a society that demands his prowess as a soldier.
Initially Aristotle hopes for a short stay in what he considers the brutal backwater of his childhood. But, as a man of relentless curiosity and reason, Aristotle warms to the challenge of instructing his young charges, particularly Alexander, in whom he recognizes a kindred spirit, an engaged, questioning mind coupled with a unique sense of position and destiny. (from Goodreads)
I love the photo on the cover of Annabel Lyon‘s The Golden Mean. If I recall correctly, it was a bit controversial when it was first released, because a variant cover was later produced, which is also gorgeous but has a different quality from the dreamlike feeling this evokes. Full disclosure: Annabel was a reader on my thesis and someone I absolutely adore and respect so my opinion is hardly unbiased, but this book is fantastic. Go read it. Right now.
My other favourite cover is a different animal entirely. (Ha, see what I did there? There’s a horse on the cover of The Golden Mean and on this cover there’s—well, anyway.)
From the beloved creator of The Snowman comes an enchanting big book featuring 124 beautiful pastel illustration panels. A huge, snowy white bear arrives mysteriously one cold winter night and crawls into bed with Tilly. The next morning, Tilly sets about making her polar bear friend welcome and excitedly reports her progress in “civilizing” him to her bemused parents. They are sure Tilly has an imaginary friend. But is he imaginary? Whether or not, his story is irresistible. (from Goodreads)
During my MFA studies at UBC, I took a class on Writing for Children with Rhea Tregebov (also wonderful!). I took a stab at a picture book, and one of the things she mentioned to the class was that the Education Library has a vast collection of picture books. Take 45 minutes or an hour and you can get through a lot of picture books, and it’s a lot of fun. So I did just that. I read a lot of Clifford the Big Red Dog, but this book by Raymond Briggs was probably my favourite. The artwork throughout has this softness to it that’s captivating and for me evokes the feeling of snow. And the idea of a polar bear crawling through my window, something that would normally be fearsome and frightening, is rendered charming and cozy (but far from sanitized—read the book and you’ll know what I mean).