The Cover Wars

It’s Christmas Eve in Harlem, but twelve-year-old Lolly Rachpaul and his mom aren’t celebrating. They’re still reeling from his older brother’s death in a gang-related shooting just a few months earlier. Then Lolly’s mother’s girlfriend brings him a gift that will change everything: two enormous bags filled with Legos. Lolly’s always loved Legos, and he prides himself on following the kit instructions exactly. Now, faced with a pile of building blocks and no instructions, Lolly must find his own way forward.

His path isn’t clear–and the pressure to join a “crew,” as his brother did, is always there. When Lolly and his friend are beaten up and robbed, joining a crew almost seems like the safe choice. But building a fantastical Lego city at the community center provides Lolly with an escape–and an unexpected bridge back to the world.

Janet: This is a triple winner with a stunning cover, an extraordinarily beautiful title, and an appealing back copy. Just breathtaking. This is going on my tbr list at once.

Yash: I’m with Janet. This sounds so wonderful. I did wince at the Lego street, but he’s got shoes, so he’s fine, right? Anyway, yes! I want this soon, please!

Everyone knows that when Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. But what happened after?

Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat follows Humpty Dumpty, an avid bird watcher who loves to be high up on the city wall―that is, until his famous fall. After the fall, Humpty is terrified of heights, and can longer do some of his favorite things.

Will he finally summon the courage to climb back up the wall?

Inspiring and unforgettable, this epilogue to the beloved classic nursery rhyme will encourage even the most afraid to overcome their fears, learn to get back up―and reach new heights.

Janet: The cover grows on me. The back copy leans into the didactic, though; I’ll wait for Jane’s review.

Yash: I do love Dan Santat’s books, so honestly, I wanted to read it the moment I saw his name–which means I didn’t even scroll all the way down. I kinda love that it takes my least favourite story and makes it something that I–maybe not kids, though–kinda liked.

The nation of Garnia has been at war for as long as Auxiliary Lieutenant Josette Dupris can remember – this time against neighboring Vinzhalia. Garnia’s Air Signal Corp stands out as the favored martial child of the King. But though it’s co-ed, women on-board are only allowed “auxiliary” crew positions and are banned from combat. In extenuating circumstances, Josette saves her airship in the heat of battle. She is rewarded with the Mistral, becoming Garnia’s first female captain.

She wants the job – just not the political flak attached. On top of patrolling the front lines, she must also contend with a crew who doubts her expertise, a new airship that is an untested deathtrap, and the foppish aristocrat Lord Bernat – a gambler and shameless flirt with the military know-how of a thimble. He’s also been assigned to her ship to catalog her every moment of weakness and indecision. When the Vins make an unprecedented military move that could turn the tide of the war, can Josette deal with Bernat, rally her crew, and survive long enough to prove herself to the top brass?

Janet: I feel like we saw this cover’s twin a month or two ago, only that time with a nautical ship. Not super drawn by the cover or the tagline, and despite the precision of what I assume is Josette’s opinion on what will certainly be an annoying flirt of a noble (“the military know-how of a thimble,”) the back copy doesn’t provide enough sense of the protagonist to pull me into its world.

Yash: Did we talk about this already? Did I already tell people the illustration style reminds me of the cover of Drowning Eyes? But the synopsis doesn’t really interest me. And somehow, the “steampunky navy-in-the-air” doesn’t appeal either. It looks really good though, dynamic cover, nice title, and sweet tagline too. It’s just not for me, not now.

An ancient prophecy says that when three stars appear in the sky, triplets will take the throne and peace will come to the land. The stars have appeared, and the triplets are Gulph, Tarlan, and Elodie. But the prophecy appears to have failed.

Tarlan saw Gulph die during a final confrontation with their undead father. Gulph fell from a burning tower and there’s no way he could have survived…even with Gulph’s special abilities.

As for his sister, Elodie, Tarlan’s convinced that she’s a traitor who betrayed the rebellion and her family just so she could have the throne to herself.

With nothing left to believe in, Tarlan’s prepared to abandon both the cause and his pack of wild animals, and head north.

But appearances can be deceiving. And in a world of magic and deceit, mistaking lies for truth can be deadly.

Janet: If (?) Elodie goes on holding a sword like that, somebody’s going to push on it and her wrist will snap. I have serious criticism of her (lack of) armour (and gloves!) and her position on the horse’s back. No, despite the very lovely font of the series title and (?) Elodie’s I’m-watching-you expression, this cover irritates me. Pass.

Yash: Um, why is she holding the sword like she’s warding off a vampire? That’s … all I think about this cover. Hard pass.

Right before Sadie died, she begged her sister, Ruby, to do the one thing she could never do herself: Find the treasure on Gray Wolf Island.

With just a mysterious treasure map as a guide, Ruby reluctantly allows some friends to join her on the hunt, each of whom is touched by magic: a boy allegedly born to a virgin, a girl who never sleeps, a boy who can foresee his own death, and a boy with deep ties to the island. Each of them is also keeping a secret—something they’ll have to reveal in order to reach the treasure.

As the secrets come to light, Ruby will have to decide: Can she make peace with her friends’ troubled pasts and continue to trust them? Can she forgive herself for doing the unspeakable? Deep in the wilderness of Gray Wolf Island, Ruby’s choices will determine if they make it out with the treasure—or merely with their lives.

Janet: The cover is fine, if you ignore the tagline. The back copy delineates no real details about the characters, leaving me wondering why I should care.

Yash: Yeah, I don’t know why I’m supposed to care about Sadie. There needs to be more than a list of special characters, like, maybe … some details? As one does? In a synopsis? *sigh* Anyway, not for me.

The next two go together!

Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?

A year ago, Sunny Nwazue, an American-born girl Nigerian girl, was inducted into the secret Leopard Society. As she began to develop her magical powers, Sunny learned that she had been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse, brought about by the terrifying masquerade, Ekwensu. Now, stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream and struggling to unlock the secrets in her strange Nsibidi book.

Eventually, Sunny knows she must confront her destiny. With the support of her Leopard Society friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha, and of her spirit face, Anyanwu, she will travel through worlds both visible and invisible to the mysteries town of Osisi, where she will fight a climactic battle to save humanity.

Janet: Hey, new covers! I like that they show all of Sunny’s face, that her attire seems to have to do with her magical/cultural circumstances, (“seems” because I haven’t read the books yet and I don’t know anything about Nigerian culture.), and that the markings on her face are consistent between the two covers. Sunny looks slightly older on the first cover, but still! Minor quibble. *sighs at tbr list, which these are already on*

Yash: I don’t love these covers as much I loved the illustrated cover for Akata Witch buuuuuut I do love these covers on their own. They don’t obscure the face, Sunny isn’t silhouetted, and I love the textures and the fonts they used. I’ll probably buy the ebooks? Because I can’t deal with my covers not matching. Yes, I’m that vain. Sorry, you guys.

  • DAN SANTAT!! So excited for his new one. Poor old Humpty Dumpty. :'(

  • OOOH! I like those new Akata covers! The illustrated one was nice, but these are so striking. (And the spider in her hair in the second one: eeek! But cool.)

    A book with Lego in it has got to be a good book, so, yeah, Stars Beneath our Feet.