For those of you unaware, there’s book lovers and then there’s book fanatics. But where do you draw the distinction? I’ve always thought that it’s in the subtle nuisances, such as how involved are they in the fandom? Do they have an OPP? Or (in my case), how obsessively are they willing to analyze the cover of favorite books? That’s right- I am a straight-up coveraholic, willing to debate the merits of typography, color, and graphics all day long. To channel this longtime fascination of mine I created a feature called Cover Duels whereas I compare the covers of both the US and an abroad edition of a book I’ve read. This week I’ll be discussing Clarion Books and the UK’s Andersen Press’s rendering of Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt.
US- Orbiting Jupiter is a harrowing tale of family dynamics, friendship, and hope that is guaranteed to tug at your heartstrings throughout. That doesn’t mean though that Gary D. Schmidt relies on flashy writing techniques to convey the powerful emotions readers are sure to feel. He instead writes simplistic, child-like sentences that make the shock of the fall all the more gutwrenching when the punch inevitably lands. I think that the US cover is a perfect representation of this, focusing on what really matters in a bleak but innocent way. The snowy landscape is perfect and feels almost like a scene from the book, where I can envision Jack or Joseph walking home from school lost in reflection. Further more, I feel the stark emptiness of the space tells readers to look between the lines from the time they open the front jacket- a skill that is essential to fully appreciate the hidden beauty of Orbiting Jupiter. Though upon reading I fully appreciate Clarion Books spot-on interpretation of the stories content, for potential readers (especially of the middle grade/ young adult age group) it may seem a bit bland and easy to skip over upon browsing the stacks. Gary D. Schmidt hardly seems like a writer concerned about sales though- in which case you would be hardpressed to find a cover more aesthetically pleasing, spot on story wise, and all around one of a kind.
UK- Andersen Press took the one aspect of Orbiting Jupiter’s US rendering I wasn’t entirely in love with- its not so young reader friendly design- and flip it on the head. Now it has a color scheme of a blue, orange, and purple Jupiter set against a space landscape. I also appreciate the homage to one of my favorite quotes in the story ‘Some Things Are Worth Searching For’. But beyond that, while it’s definitely lovely and puts to use several of my favorite design trends of 2016, it really misses the entire point of Orbiting Jupiter outside of the obvious. Prior to having read this I could see it as a mural in a nursery, or an illustration in The Little Prince reimagined- but certainly not as a book whoms story left me and many other reviewers close to tears. While no young reader may have picked up the US edition on their own, the UK sends the entirely wrong message to a much younger audience than the story is intended for. I think the best course of action for Andersen Press would be to file this cover in their archives (as I do really like it, just not for this story) and save it for an upcoming childrens release where it will be more aptly appreciated for the vivid colors and gorgeous illustration.
While it’s pretty obvious which book I’d rather see featured on my shelves, I want to hear what you think of the two covers. I would also love for anyone interested to link up to their own Cover Duels post for me to see!