Thursday, May 12, 2016

#ArmchairBEA Day 2: Favorite Middle Grade Book Covers of 2016 (So Far)

Today's Armchair BEA topic is aesthetics. As a reader, I tend to rely more heavily on reviews and descriptions than covers to direct me toward the books I will enjoy. However, as a librarian, though I am not working in a library right now, I am still attuned to those books whose covers are truly display-worthy. The four books below are newly published middle grade novels whose covers I especially like.
Just Like Me by Nancy J. Cavanaugh
Published April 5, 2016 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Cover illustration by Mina Price.
I like this cover because it invites the reader into the world of the story's three main characters before they have even been introduced. Though the title suggests that the girls in the story are similar, this cover illustration really highlights their differences, showing through small details the personalities and interests of each one. The boats on the water also connect directly to the summer camp setting. Girls who are scanning library shelves looking for beach reads will spot this one right away, and upon picking it up, they will find that it matches exactly what they had in mind. It's also fun trying to figure out who is who in this image as the characters are introduced.

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varajaradan
Published May 10, 2016 by Scholastic Press
Jacket illustration by Mark Elliott
The cover for Save Me a Seat also sets the stage for its story quite well. The cafeteria trays hint at the setting for the book (school) and its structure (chapters are organized around the lunch menu). The differing foods highlight the culture clash between the two main characters: Joe, a white boy, and Ravi, a new student from India. Since the book is written by two authors, the cover also makes it easy to identify who is writing which character. Gita Varadarajan's name is written on Ravi's tray, while Sarah Weeks's name appears on what is clearly Joe's tray. Just with a quick glance at the cover, the reader can gain a complete sense of the type of book this is and decide whether it suits his interests.

The Tiara on the Terrace by Kristen Kittscher
Published January 5, 2016 by HarperCollins
Cover illustration by Marcos Calo.
The soft color palette of this cover is instantly intriguing, especially for readers who enjoy mysteries and detective fiction. The girl on the left, Sophie, looks cautious and nervous, as is appropriate to her personality, while Grace, on the right, looks determined and unafraid as she invites the reader into the excitement of the murder the girls are about to solve. There isn't a lot of information about the story itself on the cover, but just the sly look on Grace's face is enough to make a potential reader stop and take a second look. The cover is also similar to that of the first book in the series, The Wig in the Window, a fact which will catch the attention of readers who are already fans.

Mission Mumbai by Mahtab Narsimhan
Published March 29, 2016 by Scholastic Press
Cover illustration by Kelley McMorris.
Finally, I love the cover for Mission Mumbai because it's so boy-friendly. The cover shows every major theme of this book: the hot, crowded streets of Mumbai, the warmth and good humor of the friendship shared by the two boys and the cultural and physical differences between the main characters that play a role in the conflicts which arise between them. I also like the sense of adventure and excitement signified by the angle of the bikes and the way the boys look as though they are just about to pick up speed. The illustrator really captured the personalities of both boys so well in just this one image. (The illustrator made a fascinating blog post about the evolution of this cover that shows some of her early sketches and the thought process behind this final product.)

Which new book covers have caught your eye? How did you respond to today's topic?

Bout of Books Progress Day 3

Bout of Books
My reading for day 3 was broken up in several segments. I read one book between midnight and 1 a.m.  then went to bed. When I woke up I read another book between 8 and 9 a.m. In the afternoon, I powered through a really long YA ARC that took me several hours (with several interruptions.) Then I finished the day with two average-length middle grade ARCs, one of which I read before dinner, and the other of which spanned the rest of the evening. Here's the full list:

I also completed the 5 Favorites challenge.

Here is how I stand so far with my original goals for the read-a-thon:
  • Read three titles for Fumbling Through Fantasy.
    One read (The Gammage Cup), two to go (The Thief and Return of the Twelves).
  • Read one Old School Sunday title.
    None read so far, several on my to-read list
  • Read my 1960s and 1970s titles for Newbery Through the Decades.
    Read both (The Gammage Cup for the 60s, Summer of the Swans for the 70s.) I also read my 80s title (On My Honor). 
  • Read ARCs for middle grade books coming out in June and July.
    Four read (Every Single Second, How to Almost Ruin Your Summer, Macarons at Midnight, Dumbness is a Dish Best Served Cold), two to go (The World from Up Here and Lucky Strikes)
  • Read ARCs of chapter books coming out in June and July.
    Five read (Slingshot and Burp, Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln?, Pearl's Ocean Magic, Meet the Bobs and Tweets, and Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: The Sea Pony), one to go (Jess's Story)
  • Read all the YA ARCs I currently have.
    Three read (Anything You Want, This is My Brain on Boys, and The Leaving), two to go (Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories and It's Not Me, It's You).
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