Under the Covers (HP part 2)

hp bloomsbury cover 1So I wasn’t planning on writing a blog post today, but then I stumbled upon yesterday’s Guardian article about Bloomsbury’s new Harry Potter covers, designed by Jonny Duddle. It seems like only yesterday that they redesigned them – maybe the radical modernisation of acid green and fuscia pink covers didn’t do much for sales figures and they thought they should retrace their steps.

There are things I like and things I don’t like about this. On the one hand, I like the original style best. I like the reproduction of scenes from the book. I like how they bring the book to life with magic and colour, and I appreciate the fact that they stimulate the imagination of young readers – the original audience of the Harry Potter books. That is to say, I like it when it’s done well, and I’m not entirely sure that these covers fit the bill. Especially when paired along with the Scholastic US covers. I’ve already written at length on these covers, but here’s an example if you haven’t read it:

new_cover2This isn’t the best example, but Google them and have a look. There’s something about them that couples imagination and magic with the more mature voice that Harry adopts as the story progresses. Really wonderful stuff!

I can’t help but think that the new Bloomsbury covers are a bit bleh (technical term). Harry looks like a child in these covers – even the later ones where he’s a bit older and wiser.

hp bloomsbury cover 4Look at his wee face! That isn’t the Harry that I’ve come to know and love, sorry Bloomsbury. Even though I didn’t particularly like the neon covers that were just recently published, I still admire the bravery of taking such a different approach, and I like that there’s something different out there for new, older readers. With these books, I feel like Bloomsbury are just returning to an old formula but some ingredients are missing or muddled.

hp filmOne last thing I’ll say about the covers (maybe ever on this blog, as I think we’re getting a bit HP heavy…) is that I like how we haven’t just been punted books with film stills on the cover. At least, I haven’t seen any. If they exist, please let me know in the comments! I think it’s pretty great that the publishers are so innovative with the HP covers, still designing and creating and imagining. So let me just finish by saying that, although I don’t love the new Bloomsbury covers, I still appreciate the effort. Thanks Bloomsbury and Scholastic for being brilliant!

(I’m honestly not obsessed with Harry Potter, just appreciate a good bit of book cover art!)

 

Last week, Freight Books read…

Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky

An Atlas of Remote Islands (and Pocket version, right), by Judith Schalansky and translated by Christine Lo (Particular Books, Penguin).

When I woke up this morning I was worried, because I had no translation to review today. Indeed, I had nothing to review (I’m halfway through three books, which is a situation I hate being in, and other options for review are awaiting a blog post I will be writing tomorrow) whatsoever. Then our extremely cheerful postman arrived with the book on the left, and a feature that I had been planning for next week suddenly became possible. Hey, it is even a translation – perfection is a chance discovery. Continue reading

Under the Covers

‘New York Times bestselling author and illustrator, Kazu Kibuishi, created extraordinary new covers for each of the seven
Harry Potter books.
In each of the new cover illustrations he perfectly captures a
pivotal moment from that specific book.’

hp usI’ve been keen to do a blog post on the exciting new Scholastic (US) and Bloomsbury (UK) Harry Potter covers so here I go! I’m going to start by looking at the new US covers as I absolutely adore the new illustrations – I think Kazu Kibuishi has taken a lot of inspiration from the original covers (the UK ones have gone in a wild new direction). Kibuishi has retained a similar style, though his drawings have a greater depth to them – they almost look three-dimensional!

He has also used the finer details from each book, and from the world in general, to render a rich fabric to the cover designs. I also think (and this is entirely my preference) that he has selected much better scenes from the book in which to place the characters on the cover. The moment where Diagon Alley is revealed to Harry, and he takes that first stroll down its cobbled streets, is the moment where everything becomes real to him. Up until that point, Hagrid’s words could still unravel. When Harry sees the Wizarding World for himself, the story really begins. The new cover places Harry in the heart of Diagon Alley and I thought this was a much more apt welcome to new readers.

Harrypotter_1

New (left) and original (right)

There’s also something much more adult about these covers, despite the fact that they are still targeting children. I think he has taken a leaf out of the book of the film adaptations and chosen to show the dark side of the Harry Potter story. And it is pretty dark when you think about it. And I think any rendering if the cover, or the story itself, that attempts to disguise the inherent darkness of the text is doing it an injustice, because it’s the darkest moments that really reveal the soul of the story. It’s the most terrible twists that bind you to Harry and his world. Continue reading

Under the Covers

In the latest of our series of our most treasured book covers, Robbie Guillory brings you Švejk, the (anti)hero from Czechoslovakia (as was).

cover of The Good Soldier Schweik by Jaroslav HasekThe (sadly unfinished) tale of The Good Soldier Švejk (or Schweik or Swejk, depending on your ability to produce accents) is one of the greatest novels of the First World War in in existence. An exploration of the futility of war and the pointless activities acted out in the name of military discipline, Švejk is an exemplar of passive resistance (or stupidity – the arguments flow back and forth). I will review this at some point. But on to the covers, because we will be looking at variations on a theme. Continue reading

Under the Covers

Love is strange. Love is beautiful. Love is dangerous. Love is never what you expect it to be. Here PENGUIN brings you the most seductive, inspiring and surprising writing on love in all its infinite variety.

This week is the third week of our Under the Covers feature, and I suppose sort of tying in with the whole bedroom suggestion of the feature, I’m going to pick on the Penguin Great Loves collection. These covers are absolutely stunning, and I struggle to actually read the books from fear of inflicting any damage to the aesthetic package. Penguin Great Loves CollageThe collection focuses mostly on classical, romantic/erotic literature, and offsets the passion and emotion of each title with a subtle but suggestive cover, laden with symbolism. Continue reading

Under the Covers

For the second week of the Under the Covers feature, I’ve decided to bend the rules to the utmost and write about the whole family of books that is the Gallimard Blanche imprint. And the reason that I am being allowed to cover all 7333 titles printed between 1911 and today? Because, aside from some rather serious lapses of judgement, they are all the same.

Le wagabond qui passe sous une ombrelle troueeI’ll probably be putting at least one shiny web image of a Gallimard Blanche title below, but in the mean time you will have to do with a rather grubby copy I picked up from a market in Paris a couple of years ago, simply because the title is brilliant. This is Le vagabond qui passe sous une ombrelle trouée by Jean Bruno Wladimir François de Paule Le Fèvre d’Ormesson, which is almost irrelevant except for the fact that this book would look almost identical if it was Look by Romain Villet. And I think this is pretty interesting. Continue reading

Under the Covers

We’re excited to reveal another new feature on the blog! Under the Covers is a spotlight on our favourite cover(s) of the week.

old magic

This week, I’ve decided to delve into my young adulthood to pick on a book cover that started me on reading in the first place.

The book is Old Magic, by Marianne Curley, and it was originally published by Bloomsbury in 2001.

This cover is from the UK and Australia 2nd edition and is probably my most adored childhood book.

*I really struggled to find out who designed this book cover, and I don’t have the book with me as I’m writing this post (silly). I’ll update this post with the designer when I find out who he/she is.

The first thing that struck me about this cover, and something that I still find wonderful and unique today, is the use of colour, both in the image and the text. The dark rusted blue of the stormy sky contrasts beautifully with the burnt orange of the title, subtly illuminating it without the need to bump up the typesize so it takes up half of the cover. I also like the use of all lower case in the title – it is unassuming and altogether prettier to look at. Continue reading