The Cover Wars

[Hatchet – Gary Paulsen]

Brian is on his way to Canada to visit his estranged father when the pilot of his small prop plane suffers a heart attack. Brian is forced to crash-land the plane in a lake–and finds himself stranded in the remote Canadian wilderness with only his clothing and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present before his departure.

Brian had been distraught over his parents’ impending divorce and the secret he carries about his mother, but now he is truly desolate and alone. Exhausted, terrified, and hungry, Brian struggles to find food and make a shelter for himself. He has no special knowledge of the woods, and he must find a new kind of awareness and patience as he meets each day’s challenges. Is the water safe to drink? Are the berries he finds poisonous?

Slowly, Brian learns to turn adversity to his advantage–an invading porcupine unexpectedly shows him how to make fire, a devastating tornado shows him how to retrieve supplies from the submerged airplane. Most of all, Brian leaves behind the self-pity he has felt about his predicament as he summons the courage to stay alive.

Janet: This is kind of a cool cover. Is it actually leather, or cunningly designed paper? Hatchet was assigned reading in my elementary school and I didn’t care for it. Probably time to give it another shot.

Nafiza: Not gonna lie, I would flip through this because of the cover and then put it back because it is very much not my thing. However, how awesome is it that a book is so popular that all it requires is a picture on a cover for it to be recognizable (by most people)?

Teaching mindfulness helps kids learn to stay calm, regulate their emotions, and appreciate the world around us. With Breathe and Be, author Kate Coombs and illustrator Anna Emilia Laitinen team up to present a book of poetry and art for young readers to make mindfulness easy, natural, and beautiful. Created for readers aged 4-8, here is a book sure to delight parents and kids alike, blending lovingly illustrated nature imagery with elegant poetry about living with awareness and inner peace.

Janet: I like the leaves on this cover. The tree imagery, the height, the clouds, all very fitting for a poetry collection and for a book about mindfulness. I’d read this.

Nafiza: I love the cover. It’s very tranquil but as a person who deals with two kids (aged 4 and 2) daily, getting them to actually sit and listen to stuff about being quiet? Pfffft.

Tom fell in love with Alice the moment he saw her. He realises that being with her will not be easy, but she is a force of nature, a burst of sunlight in his otherwise ordinary world.

Some people might look at Alice and think she has everything, but Alice knows she is not like other women. Her life is complicated, unpredictable, difficult. Alice does not like pity. All she wants to do, has ever wanted to do, is sing.

Alice has been told not to follow her dreams. But when fate has already dealt a tough hand, it’s time to stop listening to everyone else and only follow their hearts.

Janet: The title is lovely! Best part of the cover. The silhouette is, as (almost) always, off-putting. The back is, um, terrible. The second paragraph is just. No. The third is trite and vague. It would really help if something said somewhere that this is a fictionalized story about a real woman, a singer with cystic fibrosis; otherwise, there’s nothing here to draw me in.

Nafiza: This cover is so lovely. The tag is beautiful too. I was all on board until I read the summary. The summary is…slightly off putting. Too much telling and the whole “not like other women” is problematic. I wish more thought had gone into this synopsis.

Six years ago, Moss Jefferies’ father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media’s vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks.

Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals their own school. New rules. Random locker searches. Constant intimidation and Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. Despite their youth, the students decide to organize and push back against the administration.

When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.

Janet: The cover is bold, active, and gives a good sense of setting and situation. The back is heartbreaking. (Wish “crippling” wasn’t used, though. Ableist language.) Tbr, methinks. Anger is a gift as well as a burden.

Nafiza: I feel like this will be an important though tough read. On to the TBR it goes.

From award-winning, New York Times bestselling author Kelly Barnhill comes a stunning collection of stories, teeming with uncanny characters whose lives unfold in worlds at once strikingly human and eerily original.

When Mrs. Sorensen’s husband dies, she rekindles a long-dormant love with an unsuitable mate in “Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch.” In “Open the Door and the Light Pours Through,” a young man wrestles with grief and his sexuality in an exchange of letters with his faraway beloved. “Dreadful Young Ladies” demonstrates the strength and power—known and unknown—of the imagination.  In “Notes on the Untimely Death of Ronia Drake,” a witch is haunted by the deadly repercussions of a spell. “The Insect and the Astronomer” upends expectations about good and bad, knowledge and ignorance, love and longing. The World Fantasy Award–winning novella The Unlicensed Magician introduces the secret magical life of an invisible girl once left for dead—with thematic echoes of Barnhill’s Newbery Medal–winning novel, The Girl Who Drank the Moon.

Janet: The cover is both appealing and very, very eerie. Super-cool use of lace, textiles, and font changes. I have not yet read anything by Kelly Barnhill; perhaps this is a place to start.

Nafiza: I love Kelly Barnhill so I will be reading this very beautiful book. It helps that the cover is so very beautiful.