Book by its cover

One publishing genre that just seems to get bigger and bigger is teen fiction. First it was Harry Potter, then it was Twilight, now it’s all about The Hunger Games. But going into the 14+ section of your local book shop is usually a sure-fire way of being assaulted by lots of samey black covers, probably with a scantily clad teen vampire, or a rose dripping with blood on the front. Yawn. However, here are a few young-adult novels that have caught my eye recently – they pack a punch, and prove that just because it’s aimed at teens, it doesn’t have to be a design disaster…

Soonchild by Russell Hoban (Walker Books)
This is a strange and magical tale about a shaman from the North – Sixteen-Face John – who sets out on a journey populated with beasts and demons to find the ‘World Songs’, the music that tempts all children to be born. This is a truly gorgeous book, with Alexis Deacon’s beautiful pencil illustrations throughout, plus different coloured pages and lavish end papers. A real treat and a gorgeous gift!

How the Light Gets In by M.J. Hyland (Walker Books)
Another funky cover courtesy of Crush.  Lou Connor – an undisguised Holden Caulfield for the present day – is a gifted but discontented sixteen year old, who travels from Sydney to Chicago on an exchange trip. A trip that will allow her to escape from her family and – she hopes – change for the better what the future has in store for her. This is a must-read coming-of-age story for the modern generation, with an oh-so-cool cover and a vibrant colour scheme. This book will certainly jump out at you in a teen-fiction section dominated by black and red.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Bodley Head)
I love this cover! It’s fun and quirky and above all eye-catching. Just what teen fiction should be, in my opinion! Wonder is the story of ten-year-old Auggie who struggles to gain acceptance despite a terrible facial abnormality. At first Auggie refuses to divulge what his abnormality is, but – as the narrative unfolds – you gradually build up a picture of the nature of his facial affliction. It’s heartbreaking and uplifting in equal measure. Despite the author being a successful NY designer (Raquel Jaramillo), it’s the talented Tad Carpenter we have to thank for the cover illustration.

Wildwood by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis (Canongate Books)
We are big fans of this book here at Jackie Magpie – Kate wrote about it a while back here, but it is such a delightful piece of work that I think it’s worth another mention! Written and illustrated by this super-talented husband-and-wife duo, Wildwood is the tale of twelve-year-old Prue who adventures into the Impassable Wilderness – along with her geeky school friend, Curtis – to recover her kidnapped baby brother. The exceptionally special hardback is as magical as the story, swathed in Carson Ellis’s beautiful and intricate illustrations, and with fantastical map endpapers. The jacket is one that you can look at again and again and see something new every time.


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