The Cover Wars: Middle Grade Novels (New Releases)

From Goodreads’ list of new releases for children. I’m kind of excited about these middle grade books …

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1. The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler

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Janet: Ha! That bald winged figure standing upright on the bough looks just like one of the goblins from Eric Kimmel and Trina Schart Hyman’s Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins. Well, between the title, that tagline, and the cover (colour! light! cats and flying books!), ominous eyes or not, I’d read this.

Steph: Bahahahaaa – I love it. It looks like Pagemaster, did you guys ever see that movie? (MacCaulay Culkin). Forbidden books, the dark arts, magic and mystical beast…. wait… Harry Potter? Ok, I’m getting a lot of vibes from this that are familiar, but it just looks so darn campy I might give it a boo (ohohoho).

Yash: Perhaps this is bad form since I’m the one who picked the covers, but didn’t we do a similar cover on a library? Something about ninjas?? I don’t know. Anyway, I like this cover and I strongly suspect that if I were the age-group this book were marketing to, I’d pick it up. There are books on and the title has “forbidden” in it- so, yeah, I’d at least read the back.

Nafiza: For some reason, I feel like this cover has too many things going on. I like it but I think some of the things could have been taken out to give it a less busy look. Still, I like the colour scheme – ah yes, I don’t like the colour of the title. Why blue?

2. The Eighth Day by Dianne K. Salerni

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Janet: Rectangular, metallic, and block-like. This just doesn’t appeal to me; I’m not fond of cement. The tagline would be more effective if the ellipses were removed and if instead of “he” readers were given a name – it would make identifying with this boy just a little more immediate and increase curiosity about his circumstances. (Anyone else think that the building in the background looks a little like Buchanan tower? If the one side weren’t blank, I would say it was modeled after UBC’s “waffle building.”)

Steph: Oh man, this is so intriguing! Sci-Fi! Hells yeah! Time travel, racing against time, mystery, action, suspense! I’m getting all that from this cover. I will totally read this. I’m reserving it at the library right now.

Yash: Again, this cover looks familiar. Didn’t we make a fuss over a cover like this one last year, during Dystopia month? Sigh. Anyway, no, I don’t think I’d go for this. I’m not a huge time-travel, science-fiction person at the best of times. Unless Steph gives it a thumbs-up- then I might be in. *looks expectantly at Steph*

Nafiza: I like this. I really like how the title of the novel is incorporated into the cover. It’s slick! I also like the running motion of the protagonist. I’ll check this out definitely.

3. File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents by Lemony Snicket

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Janet: Kind of appealing. I’m almost tempted to read a Lemony Snicket story again. The style is appealing, almost graphic novel-like. Can anyone tell me if his more recent books are like the Series of Unfortunate Events? I’m not sure I want to face that much rampant unhappiness again, as much as I admired the resourcefulness of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny.

Steph: Is this a part of All the Wrong Questions? It’s got the same silhouettes-comic book feel. I like it, I like the author, so I’m pretty sure I’d read this. I love the use of the blue as colour and also as indicating that the action is all happening at nighttime. Excellent use of prime colours, as always from the creators of Lemony Snickett reads.

Yash: So, yes, it is part of the ATWQ series, but I feel like it isn’t the next book in the series. While it has the same art, it doesn’t have the same bright and shiny colours that the first two instalments use. I think I prefer those- this cover kind of pales in comparison. Still, I like the series, so I’d probably pick it up. It kind of reminds me of the Artemis Fowl Files that happen in between books two and three, I think.

Nafiza: I know I should like this cover but somehow, I don’t. Maybe it’s the colour scheme or the monotony of the bricks but it just doesn’t work for me.

4. Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere by Julie T. Lamana

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Janet: Blunt, appealing in a quiet way. I’d read the back.

Steph: Hmm, maybe? It’s got a bit of Junie B. Jones feel. I do love wellies. Muddy wellies at that. I think it’s fairly easy to peg down the plot of this one though, so I’m a little wary. The writing then has to do a lot of work, and, it being a middle grade read, I’m just not sure if it’ll hold me. Clearly a visit to some obscure place (probably going to see an odd Uncle or a wacky Grandma) and some charming adventure that incurs self-growth occurs. I will read the back. But that’s all I am promising.

Yash: I am with Janet on this one. The cover is lovely in its simplicity. (No actual people to distract from the title and the dirty boots! Woo!) I would read the back. I wonder if it will be magic realism? Just to make that visit to a farm or forest-y area a bit sweeter?

Nafiza: I love this. The simplicity, the colour scheme, the background and the typography. I’m reading this one.

5. The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham

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Janet: For some reason this cover reminds me of the covers of the Vampirates series. Despite the moon and night sky, the gargoyle (or grotesque, as I don’t know if this one spouts water or is solely decorative), and the bell, this doesn’t appeal. I think it’s the title and the maniacally leaping children that put me off.

Steph: If they aren’t really ugly, then I don’t want to read this. I’m tired of reading about “ugly” people who aren’t that ugly. I enjoyed Westerfeld’s Uglies because that was the point – but this, again, being a middle grade-read I just don’t trust that it’s going to be sincere enough about the image issues. I mean, the action and the adventure are all good but I worry about the end lesson/moral/takeaway. I’m not sure about this one.

Yash: Okay, I didn’t think about the title at all until Steph said something. Now I am a bit worried. But! I kinda love the cover. I love that there’s a girl in the forefront, scampering on rooftops. I like the colours they use- the warm light, the kids enveloped in shadow, and the blue-green woods and heavens looking down on the town. It’s pretty exciting and cinematic. Also, the gargoyle is pretty neat. I think I would be inclined to pick this one up.

Nafiza: I really like this. I’m a sucker for covers that show people in motion and I can feel the excitement of the characters as they flee/are chased by whatever. Plus, the details of the city, so pretty – the colour too. *swoon*

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