Wednesday, October 7, 2015

ERS Goes Undercover

Greetings, Blogfriends!
Whatsit Stanton here . . . curious about what's under the covers :)

When I received the proofs for my picture book, Henny, I was delighted to see the plans my art director at Simon & Schuster had for the hard case cover come to life. I love that Henny has a distinctly different identity beneath her simple, cheerful jacket:

It got me wondering about what lies beneath the dust jackets of other picture books, so I thought it would be fun to share some of what I found after taking a peek at my own collection.

As I undressed the books, I discovered that most of them have hard case covers that exactly match their dust jackets. For these books, there are no hidden surprises, but there is most certainly delight at the repetition. More is better, right? Case in point, Whatsit Kevan Atteberry's colorful and super fun, Bunnies!!! (2015) 

As I went along, I set aside the books that, to whatever degree, had hard covers that varied from their dust jackets. 
Here are some highlights, roughly categorized by type—some old, some new— from my modest but ever-growing collection of picture books:

 Here are a few no-title, no-image covers:
Raymond Briggs’s The Snowman (1978) picks up the beautiful blue background from the jacket.

Steig’s Brave Irene (1986) plain cloth cover takes off on Irene’s red scarf, hat, and mittens.

Maurice Sendak's, We Are All in the Dumps With Jack and Guy (1993) has, in spite of its bold jacket, a remarkably plain brown paper cover.

Then there are those with predominantly plain covers that have embossed teasers hinting at what's inside:
The classic, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (1978), with an embossed, to-the-point image!

Two little embossed ants creep onto the otherwise blank cloth cover of Chris Van Allsburg's Two Bad Ants (1988)

Barbara McClintock's Adele & Simon (2006) has a subtle embossed cat on the case, a nod to the drawing Simon is holding in the image on the jacket. 

I was especially delighted today when my copy of Phillip and Erin Stead's Lenny & Lucy (2015) arrived. The warm golden foil images on the case tie in with the raised and comparably golden title on the dust jacket:

Then there are covers where, instead of the title dropping out, the image drops out:
Crow and Weasel by Barry Lopez, illustrated by Tom Pohrt (1990)—a beautiful classic with a handsome blue cloth cover with a golden foil title.

This case title for Robert L. Forbes's collection of animal rhymes, illustrated by Ronald Searle, is a shiny blue—making it pop on the sunny yellow cloth cover.

Here are a couple of books where the title drops out, but the jacket image remains:
House of Dolls (2010), by Francesca Lea Block, illustrated by Barbara McClintock 

The Leaf Men, by William Joyce (1996)

And then, there's the unexpected:

May the Stars Drip Down (2014), by Jeremy Chatelain, illustrated by Nikki McClure, has a partial jacket, reminiscent of clouds.

When I first picked up Scott Magoon's I've Painted Everything! (2007), I didn't think it had a jacket—a tactile surprise because it looks and feels exactly like the cloth case cover!

And to get a star, you have to take the jacket off this early printing of Jennifer K. Mann's latest book!

Here are some more undercover delights, in no particular order:

hello! hello! (2012) by Matthew Cordell 

Don't Lick the Dog (2009) by Wendy Wahman

Z is for Moose (2012) and Circle Square Moose (2014) by Kelly Bingham, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky

Apple Cake (2012) by Julie Paschkis

Ninja (2014) by Arree Chung

Mo's Mustache (2013) by Ben Clanton

The Quiet Book (2010) by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Renata Liwska

The Crows of Pearblossom (2011) by Aldous Huxley, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

For more glimpses of what lies beneath, be sure and check out Travis Jonker's 100 Scope Notes blog posts featuring a sampling of covers from 2013 and 2015:

Thanks, friends! See you next time!

Next up:  October 21st—Whatsit Jennifer K. Mann talks virtual mentors!



  1. Fun post, Beth, love the little surprises! Including the ones with a mysterious plain brown cover. At a recent library sale everyone was hurriedly scanning the covers, but I took time to open an unmarked brown hardback. . .it was a Trina Schart Hyman!

    1. You never know what you'll find when you take that extra step! Thanks for stopping by, Kathryn!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Danielle! I had sure had fun looking :)

  3. Great post, Elizabeth! So interesting! And I'm thrilled that Paul did what he did with our books.

    1. Thanks, Kelly! I was so delighted when I took the jackets off them. SO friggin' FUN-- outside and in!

  4. This was a great treat to read and see. Love the reveals.

    1. So glad, Nancy. I could have gone on and on. They're so fun!

  5. FUN!!! Now I have to go and stip all of mine :)

    1. It's an adventure, isn't it? ;) Thanks for stopping by, Nuria!

  6. Loved the 'Quiet Book' ........... not as much as 'Henny'.... obviously!

    1. Agreed—on both counts ;) Thanks for stopping by, John!

  7. Thank you! I loved seeing these little "undercover surprises." I received a surprise of my own last week when I examined my first hardcover copy of Arctic White (spring 2016). Something very fun and unexpected was under the jacket!

    1. Thanks, Danna! Looking forward to seeing your under-cover-surprise. :)

  8. You guys! What a cool site! I'll be sharing with the Portland Whosits (just made that up).