• OhMG! News


    July 11, 2014: Apply for a Thurber House residency!

    Thurber House has a Children’s Writer-in-Residence program for middle-grade authors each year and  guidelines and application form for the 2015 residency were just released.

    This unique residency has been in existence since 2001, offering  an opportunity for authors to have time to work on their writing in a fully furnished apartment, in the historic boyhood home of author and humorist, James Thurber. Deadline is October 31, 2014. For details, go to READ MORE

    July 10, 2014:

    Spread MG books in unexpected places 7/19
    Drop a copy of your own book or of another middle-grade favorite in a public place on July 19 -- and some lucky reader will stumble upon it.
    Ginger Lee Malacko is spearheading this Middle Grade Bookbomb (use the hashtag #mgbookbomb in social media) -- much in the spirit of Operation Teen Book Drop.  Read more ...

June 16, 2014:
Fizz, Boom, Read: Summer reading 2014

Hundreds of public libraries across the U.S. are celebrating reading this summer with  the theme Fizz, Boom, Read! Find out more about this year's collaborative summer reading program and check out suggested booklists and activities. Read more ...

April 30, 2014:
Join the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign and help change the world

The conversation on diversity in children's books has grown beyond book creators and gate keepers to readers and book buyers. What can you do? Take part in the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign May 1 though 3 on Tumblr and Twitter and in whatever creative ways you can help spread the word to take action. Read more ….

April 11, 2014:
Fall 2014 Children's Sneak Peek
A peek at forthcoming middle grade books (as well as picture books and YA books) in a round-up from Publisher's Weekly. First printed in the February 22 issue, but now available online. Time to add to your to-read list. Read more ...

April 9, 2014:
How many Newbery winners have you read?
You could make a traditional list of all the Newbery Medal Award-winning Children's Books you've read, but there's something so satisfying when you check them off and get a final tally on this BuzzFeed quiz. Read more ...

March 28, 2014:
Middle Grade fiction is hot at 2014 Bologna Children's Book Fair

For the second year in a row, publishers are clamoring for middle-grade, reporters Publishers Weekly. "I’ve been coming [to Bologna] for 12 to 15 years, and I’ve never had as many European publishers asking for middle-grade," said Steven Chudney of the Chudney Agency. Read more ...

February 14, 2014:
Cybils Awards announced
Ultra by David Carroll (Scholastic Canada) wins the Cybil for middle grade fiction; Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Disney Hyperion) wins for Speculative Fiction. Read more.

January 27, 2014: And the Newbery Medal goes to ...
Kate DiCamillo won the Newbery Medal for "Flora & Ulysses"; Rita Williams-Garcia won the Coretta Scott King Author award for "P.S. Be Eleven." Newbery Honor awards to authors Vince Vawter, Amy Timberlake, Kevin Henkes and Holly Black. For all the exciting ALA Youth Media Award News ... READ MORE

November 12, 2013:
Vote in the GoodReads semifinal round

Readers' votes have narrowed the middle-grade semifinals down to 20 titles. Log in to your GoodReads account and vote for your favorite middle-grade (and in other categories, of course). Read more ...

November 9, 2013:
Publishers Weekly Top Children's Books of 2013

Middle-grade and young adult titles selected by the editors of Publishers Weekly as their top picks of the year. Let the season of "top ten books" begin! Read more ...

October 14, 2013:
Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids debuts January 2014

Shelf Media Group, publisher of Shelf Unbound indie book review magazine, will launch a new free digital-only publication for middle-grade readers. The debut issue features interviews with such notable authors as Margaret Peterson Haddix and Chris Grabenstein as well as reviews, excerpts, and more. Middle Shelf will be published bi-monthly beginning in January 2014.
Read more ...

September 19, 2013: Writer-in-Residence program at Thurber House

Dream of time and space to focus on your own writing project? Applications now being accepted (11/1/2013 deadline) for The Thurber House Residency in Children's Literature, a month-long retreat in the furnished third-floor apartment of Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. Read more ...

September 18, 2013: Vermont College of Fine Arts Scholarship opportunity

Barry Goldblatt Literary launches The Angela Johnson Scholarship, a talent-based grant for writers of color attending the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program at VCFA. Up to two $5,000 grants will be awarded each year. Read more ....

September 16, 2013:
National Book Awards longlist for youth literature

For the first time, the NBA is presenting lists of 10 books/authors on the longlist in each category. The 2013 young adult literature list includes five middle grade novels and five YA. Read more ...

Sept. 13, 2013: Spring preview
Check out Publishers Weekly roundup of upcoming children's books to be published in spring 2014. Read more...

August 21, 2013:
Want to be a Cybils Award Judge?

Middle grade categories are fiction, speculative fiction, nonfiction. Applications due August 31! Read more ...

August 19, 2013:
S&S and BN reach a deal
Readers will soon be able to find books from Simon & Schuster at Barnes & Noble. The bookstore chain was locked in a disagreement with the publisher over how much it was willing to pay for books. Read more ...

August 6, 2013:
NPR's 100 Must-Reads for Kids
NPR's Backseat Book Club asked listeners to nominate their favorite books for readers ages 9 to 14. More than 2,000 people nominated titles, and a panel of Newbery authors brought the list to 100. Most are middle grade books. Read more ...

July 2, 2013:
Penguin & Random House Merger

The new company, Penguin Random House, will control more than 25 percent of the trade book market in the United States. On Monday, the newly formed company began to take shape, only hours after a middle-of-the-night announcement that the long-planned merger had been completed. Read more ...

  • Subscribe!

    Get email updates:

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

  • Are Middle-Grade covers growing up?


    Okay—this is my first post here at the Mixed-Up Files Blog, so I’m really hoping this won’t be like, “the post that kills the awesome.” (yes, I’m a trifle insecure. I also use words like trifle. You’ll get used to it—I hope) :)

    Anyway, I thought I’d use my first post to explore a trend I’m starting to notice in middle-grade—a change in the winds so to speak. It seems like, for as long as I can remember anyway, middle-grade books have always had cartoon-ish style covers—usually an illustrator’s depiction of the characters in a key moment in the book. Think Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

    But recently it seems like publishers are trying out cover designs with a more grown-up feel to them. For example, look at the redesigned cover for Ella Enchanted:

    The Original Cover:

    And…the updated redesign:

    Now, obviously the new cover is still kid friendly, given the color scheme and the very obvious child on the cover. But to me…there’s just something more mature about it. As a kid, I would’ve felt more grown-up holding the second book than I would the first. Maybe because having the real child on the cover makes the book seem like less of a fairy tale. I’m not sure.

    And here’s one that’s even more mature: Radiance, by Alyson Noel.

    The design is clean and simple, the girl on the cover looks more like a teenager to me, and the whole cover just feels more…YA. Which was probably what they were going for. Alyson Noel’s other books are very much YA, so I’m sure a big part of the marketing strategy was to design a cover that would appeal to those YA fans, hopefully getting them to give this book a chance. (That elusive “crossover appeal” everyone is always buzzing about.) In fact, I’ve seen this book listed both ways, sometimes as MG, sometimes as YA. They’re definitely trying to shoot for both markets.

    And it makes me wonder if we’ll be seeing a lot more covers like this in the future. After all, there’s a huge focus on getting children to “read up” (to read books for kids a little older than their age range). So perhaps publishers are hoping that if they make the cover look a little more ‘grown-up’ it will make the book, and the reader feel more mature. I definitely see that trend in YA covers, trying to have the books appeal to both teens and adults. Why wouldn’t middle-grade be affected?

    But I can’t decide how I feel about it. On the one hand, I personally prefer the cover of Radiance to a lot of the MG covers I see. But when I try to picture my 10-year-old self—who pretty much had Disney princesses plastered all over everything—in a bookstore looking at the different covers…I’m not sure I would have been drawn to a cover like Radiance. I’m not sure it looks as fun or exciting as something with a bit more of a cartoon-ish cover. Then again, 12-year-old Shannon might have been too embarrassed to read a book with a cartoon-ish cover at school, and would’ve gladly picked up something more like Radiance. So I keep going round and round on it, and I really don’t know where I stand.

    What do you guys think? Do you think making middle-grade covers more mature will help the category, keeping kids from ‘outgrowing’ them so fast?  Or do you think it will lose appeal for some of the younger readers in the category? Any covers you’ve found particularly successful?


    Shannon Messenger refuses to grow up, so she picked a career where she could live vicariously through her 12-year-old characters. She currently writes middle-grade fantasy and is represented by Laura Rennert with Andrea Brown Literary.



    1. Sarah  •  Oct 25, 2010 @1:31 am

      You’re totally right about the trend! And I can’t decide how I feel about it either. Up until I was around 9 (okay, 11), books with cartoon covers were all the rage for me. I ADORED Enid Blyton books, and I’d have picked up the Harry Potter one above as well. But as I got older, I definitely leaned toward books with more grown-up covers.
      Do you think it has something to do with how MG breaks down? Maybe it’s something deliberate to get younger MG readers reading “younger-looking books” and older MG readers being able to pick out “their books” right away as well, and transitioning into YA more easily?
      Great post! Definitely thought-provoking.

    2. sheelachari  •  Oct 25, 2010 @6:09 am

      Neat post! When I first talked about covers with my editor for my MG novel, I definitely wanted something illustrated. My editor said that she had thought about something photographed with illustrated elements. We eventually went with an illustrated cover (which I LOVE and can’t wait to share), and I’m glad because somehow, I, too, associate the realistic/photo covers with an older sensibility.

      I would hazard to say that the photo/realistic cover has been a general trend for all of children’s books over the past generation or two. When I was young, I don’t remember seeing them at all, not even on the so-called YA books (I say ‘so-called’ only because I don’t remember YA being a defined choice for us). But now they are very much part of the YA genre – esp the really beautiful, breath-taking ones with gorgeous clothing.

      Maybe for the MG crowd, putting real covers can sometime gives it more of a movie-tie in quality? Some of the re-issued books like Ramona and Beezus comes to mind, with Selena Gomez on the cover.

      Personally, I love illustrated!

    3. Renae Mercado  •  Oct 25, 2010 @6:11 am

      I’ve noticed the trend as well and like you I’m still on the fence about it. While I know what my preferences would be, a ten-year old is more than likely going to be drawn to the more cartoonish covers. That being said I’ve noticed with my own son that the moment he hit middle school, the more mature covers are what he began leaning toward. Great post Shannon!

    4. Laura  •  Oct 25, 2010 @6:13 am

      Great post, Shannon! You have nothing to worry about :-)

      This is such an interesting question, one that I’ve actually never stop to think about! Now that I have, I think I’m going in the same circles you are. I remember my little sister reading the ”Sweet Valley Kids” and “Baby-Sitters Little Sister” series back in the day, and I used to read the Saddle Club which I think leans more towards MG than YA too, and as far as I recall, those covers were’t too cartoonish! They were more like the Ella Enchanted covers, so maybe this trend isn’t too new! However, YA and MG have exploded since then, so I am sure this is a conscious decision from a marketing standpoint…going for the cross-over appeal as you say!

    5. Jess  •  Oct 25, 2010 @6:29 am

      I think kids are definitely exposed to more than I was growing up (*coughs, hides birth certificate*), and it might influence what’s acceptable to be seen reading. This is just a theory, but maybe it’s cooler to have more grown-up covers sitting on your desk than younger ones….then again, Diary of a Wimpy Kid was a huge hit. I don’t know. I like the older covers, rather than the ones that look more like photographs.

      Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

    6. Lydia Sharp  •  Oct 25, 2010 @6:35 am

      I always love a good discussion about cover art. Great post!

    7. Lindsay  •  Oct 25, 2010 @6:43 am

      I’ve noticed this trend as well. I agree that the whole ‘more ya/adult’ covers help with crossover appeal. I keep seeing lots of duel cover books for those markets on the shelves.

    8. Emily White  •  Oct 25, 2010 @6:47 am

      I must say I really don’t know how I feel about it. On one hand, I think the cover for RADIANCE looks absolutely gorgeous and still has enough of the whimsical feel to pass as MG. But on the other hand, I know how quickly the industry can progress. It seems like the world as a whole wants kids to grow up really fast.

      However, I’m trying to think of how ten-year-old me would feel and I just don’t know. At that age, I was reading all over the place. I’d read classics intended for adults one day and Ramona the next. I probably didn’t care much what the cover looked like at that age.

    9. Natalie Aguirrd  •  Oct 25, 2010 @6:57 am

      Great post. I think it could have something to do with the distinction between lower and upper middle grade books. I don’t mind it as I see my own writing as being more geared to upper middle grade.

    10. Bev  •  Oct 25, 2010 @9:11 am

      I’ve been noticing this too and as a mother, it’s bugging me!! Two popular hardcovers picturing older-looking girls on what I felt were more mg stories are – The Teashop Girls and My Life in Pink and Green. The stories and writing in both are sweet and very appealing to the upper elementary/middle school crowd. But the covers give me the feel of definite YA/Adult. Interestingly enough, when I looked up The Teashop Girls just now on amazon, I see they have an illustrated (and somewhat younger looking) cover for the paperback! For my own book, HAVEN, I feel the publisher picked an older-looking cover as well. It’s a photograph as well (with no people) but to me, it looks a bit scary – and it’s not a scary book!
      Who knows. It’s a crazy business!

    11. Meredith  •  Oct 25, 2010 @10:03 am

      I’m conflicted about it, too: I think I would have been more drawn to the more mature looking covers as a pre-teen, but it’s hard to get a sense of the age group from covers these days. It’d be fun to sit in on an art department meeting when they design these covers to see what their reasoning is :)

    12. Karen B. Schwartz  •  Oct 25, 2010 @10:04 am

      I like the illustrated covers best, and I know my 8 y.o. son is drawn to them. Interesting topic!

    13. Shannon O'Donnell  •  Oct 25, 2010 @10:28 am

      Excellent post, #1! I think both situations are true. I think those more mature covers WILL attract some crossover attention, but I also believe there will be younger MG readers who will shy away from them. Personally, I prefer the MG covers to remain more MG – Harry Potter and Brimstone Key and Fablehaven style! :-)

    14. Kimberley Griffiths Little  •  Oct 25, 2010 @10:31 am

      I LOVE talking about book covers! One of my fav topics.

      Just to share an anecdote: Interesting stuff is happening with my MG book covers as we speak. THE HEALING SPELL’s hardcover is called a graphic-illustration, and Marc Tauss the artist did a fabulous job. BUT it does have a more literary feel to it even though it’s gorgeous and pops out on a shelf so Scholastic has decided to re-do the cover for the paperback next year. They’re going with a more contemporary, immediate feeling and using a photograph of an 11-12 year old girl. Even though it’s a photograph and we think of YA for that, the image they’ve chosen and designed around is FANTASTIC! I think it very much will appeal to girls that age and also captures the feeling of the book, too. So there’s a LOT of in-house excitement for it.

      For my next hardcover MG Fall 2011, they’re going illustrated again with a wonderful artist, Erin McGuire, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with. Her stuff is whimsical and yet mysterious and atmospheric.

      I think that publishers and art depts do experiment and sometimes they nail it right away and sometimes they do more experimenting and perhaps don’t quite reach the market the first shot out.

    15. Dawn  •  Oct 25, 2010 @10:38 am

      I’ve noticed this trend as well, and enjoyed your post. While I might have been drawn to the more mature covers as a pre-teen (given my declaration that I was a “serious reader” (grin), I know my stepdaughter likes the younger looking titles now.

    16. Amie Kaufman  •  Oct 25, 2010 @10:41 am

      I’ve noticed this a little too, but I hadn’t really thought much about it until I read your post. The sort of MG I tend to read tends towards illustrated covers (The Book Thief, The Penderwicks, that sort of thing), and as a kid I really preferred those. It seems a little like they’re trying to emulate YA covers, and I’m all in favour of kids being kids as long as they can. That said, I think though they might lose appeal in some quarters, they might pick up some readers in others.

    17. Lisa Gibson  •  Oct 25, 2010 @11:39 am

      Interesting topic Shannon. I think kids are more mature these days, IMO. I think the covers reflect that in many ways as well. I also feel the tweens are trying so hard to move up to that teen stage that maybe they are drawn to books that have covers more in line with that age group. I don’t know. :)
      Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

    18. ShannonMessenger  •  Oct 25, 2010 @12:22 pm

      Wow–lots of comments! YAY! Thanks guys–love this discussion.

      Sarah: I do wonder if there’s going to eventually be more of a distinction between Upper and Lower MG, and the covers may start reflecting that. I have no idea how I feel about that, but I think it’s coming whether I like it or not. :)

      sheelachari: Yay–so glad you love your cover. I can’t wait to see it! I have no doubt it’s absolutely gorgeous.

      Ranae: You’re right, the kids do tend to feel pressure to grow up. I think that’s what’s extra challenging about the MG category. Kids change SO much from ages 9-12, so finding something that appeals to all of them is a very delicate balance

      Laura: Aw, thanks. And you’re right, the trend has been simmering for a while. But I feel like there’s more of a push, and I’m just not sure how to feel about it yet. (not that my opinion will actually matter) ;)

      Jess: Yeah, I do think there’s the “coolness” factor to consider. But like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, if a book is fun and great they’ll read it no matter what’s on the cover.

      Lydia: *blush* Thanks. And thanks for the comment!

      Lindsay: Ooo, dual covers. I haven’t noticed that. But hm, I wonder if that may become a trend.

      Emily: YES! Kids are under so much pressure to grow up to fast, i hate to give them another. But you’re right. Kids in MG age are kind of all over the place, so it’s really hard to know what will draw them in.

      Natalie: I write more upper-MG too, so that’s probably why I’m more receptive to the non illustrated covers. But I have NO idea what kind of cover I want for my book (not that I’ll have much say when the time comes anyway)

      Bev: I have not seen those covers yet, but that’s interesting. I’ll have to look them up. And yes–it is a crazy business. I know we’re not marketing experts, but I do wish they’d let us authors have a teensy bit more say in our cover design. Le sigh.

      Meredith: OMG that would be AWESOME. I would love to hear how the art department thinks and works. *adds that to list of wishes* :)

      Karen: I love the illustrated covers too–and you’re right I’m sure an 8 year old would prefer them. Glad to hear you have a young reader at home. Kids who read make my day. :)

      Shannon #2: LOL I love that my number nickname is being used over here now. And you’re right, I think there will be a give and take with the older covers. I’m kinda with you, I love the covers like you mentioned. It’ll be interesting to see what happens if my book sells.

      Kimberly: Wow, I LOVE your cover, so I’m surprised they’re changing it. But I guess you’re right, it is a touch more literary. Glad to hear the redesign is beautiful–I can’t wait to see it. And it’s good to know that publishers will keep playing around and redesigning if they don’t feel they got it right the first time. :)

      Dawn: Ah yes, I remember drawing the *serious reader* distinction as a kid myself. *giggles* That’s the hard thing, finding something that appeals to kids in all different places in their lives.

      Amie: LOVE the covers you mentioned. And yes, I am in favor of kids being kids as long as they can. They have the rest of their lives to be adults, you know?

      Lisa: You’re definitely right, kids ARE more mature these days. And I do think kids are feeling pressure to jump into YA books that they might not be ready for. So I guess it wouldn’t be so bad if they felt like a MG book was more ‘grown-up.” But I’d hate to turn off the younger readers in the process. Gah–it’s so hard. :)

      Thanks again for the comments everyone. I am LOVING this discussion.

    19. Marsha Sigman  •  Oct 25, 2010 @12:29 pm

      I really think it depends on the age. Under 10 would probably lean more towards an illustrated cover but I think any child over 10 is going to want that more mature look, whether or not it fits the actual story. Remember how we always wanted to seem more mature? I don’t think that ever changes.lol

    20. Sara McClung  •  Oct 25, 2010 @2:05 pm

      Great post Shannon–this is definitely something I’d noticed, but never really thought about… if that makes any sense.

      On the one hand, it makes sense from a marketing perspective. I mean EVERYTHING seems to point kids to being more sleek and mature these days. Just look at the preteen clothing that’s sold now. I’ve gone from being all “aw, that stuff is SO cute–I hope I have a daughter I can get something like this outfit for someday” to “Hmmm. You think they have that in MY size?” lol

      Personally, I like the illustrated, fun covers the best :) But that could just be my “grown up” perspective looking back on the MG books as I read them…

    21. Rosanne Parry  •  Oct 25, 2010 @2:55 pm

      It’s my understanding that there is one children’s buyer for Barnes & Noble nationally and that person strongly prefers photographic covers. That might account for the preponderance of photographic covers all by its self. It’s a huge amount of influence for one buyer to have but I bet publishers have to take into account personal taste of their largest buyers.

      I don’t think a photograph automatically ages up the book. Certainly the cowboy on my Heart of a Shepherd doesn’t look like a teenager. But the overall look of the book is more mature and serious which has been an asset for me. The reading level for HEART is on the easy side for MG, so it gets chosen for older struggling readers quite often, and they are happy to carry around this book at school. They might feel differently if it was a cartoonish cover.

      So we may be seeing an attempt to make an easier book palatable to an older reader rather than a push to move younger readers up.

      Interesting conversation! Thanks Shannon!

    22. Laurie Schneider  •  Oct 25, 2010 @3:31 pm

      As long as the covers don’t all start to look alike I’ll be happy. It’s nice to have both photos and illos, and there have been some beautiful illustrated covers in the past few years — like Ingrid Law’s SAAVY.

    23. Amie Borst  •  Oct 25, 2010 @8:08 pm

      great first post, shannon! and welcome aboard!

      ya’know – one of the things i like most about middle-grade is that it allows children (and YES, they are STILL children – i have 2 of these MGers in my home) to stay children. there is so much in this world that forces them to grow up so quickly – all the social networking, texting, etc. why can’t they have book covers that encourage them to remember they are living in the best times – RIGHT NOW. life only gets harder and more complicated the older you get.

      however, i do remember how complicated that middle-grade age was. i wanted to grow up and books that understood how i felt, really hit home. i wasn’t alone. would a cover have made a difference? probably not to 12 year old me. but to 30 something, i mean 20 something, yeah, that’s it 20 something me, it does! ’cause i want my children to stay little as long as possible :)

    24. Heidi  •  Oct 25, 2010 @8:10 pm

      The photo art looks commercial to me. Maybe that is what the publisher is going for, more commercial. I think it really depends on the story. If the story is more literary, I feel it should be an artistic cover. If the story is more commercial, perhaps more of a photo cover. Just my humble opinion :)

      Great post!

    25. Laura Pauling  •  Oct 25, 2010 @9:16 pm

      Great post! But I was hoping for some tap dancing tips?

      I think more mature YA-looking covers work for tween/upper MG. A lot of those girls are already reading up so how the cover looks is a big reason why they might or might not read it.

    26. ShannonMessenger  •  Oct 26, 2010 @12:26 am

      Ooo–more comments. FUN!

      Marsha: I do think age (and appearing more mature) are a big part of the thought process behind this. I remember wanting to prove I was a “grown-up” when I was like, 8. Then again, I was a weird child. ;)

      Sara: LOL I think the same thing about kids clothes. Not to mention how early they start wearing make-up these days. But I’m with you, I kinda prefer the illustrated covers, and I’m kinda hoping that’s what I’ll get. We shall see…

      Rosanne: Wow–how crazy for one person to have that kind of power. But I wouldn’t be surprised. And you’re right, it could be just the opposite of what I was thinking. It probably works both ways, honestly. Different things for different people, yanno?

      Laurie: YES! Nothing worse than a bookstore full of clone-esque covers. Its like, can’t you come up with anything else? And I LOVE the cover of Savvy. It’s gorgeous.

      Amie: Aw, thanks. *blush* And I totally agree. I know kids can be in a hurry to grow up (I know I was) but I’m a big fan of keeping them kids for as long as possible. I do think MG helps with that. Yet another reason why I write it.

      Heidi: You’re right, it also is more commercial–almost like it’s tricking readers into thinking it’s the movie-tie-in addition, when there is in fact, no movie tie in. I think that’s definitely a factor. Commercial is ALWAYS a factor.

      Laura: LOL. Maybe I’ll slip some dancing into the next post. And you’re right, it definitely works for Upper MG better than lower MG. By that age a lot of kids really are reading up. I know I was.

      Thanks for the great discussion everyone. This was FUN! :)

      (Also, I think I use to many happy faces in my responses. Eh well…)

    27. Tracy Abell  •  Oct 26, 2010 @11:36 am

      Late to the party, but great thought-provoking post, Shannon.

      I tend to liked illustrated covers better for younger readers but think photographs can be nice for older middle-grade. What I object to is the idea of rushing kids into feeling older; I’d rather we let them be kids reading developmentally appropriate books. Covers should entice, not set some sort of standard for reading achievement.

    28. Tricia Springstubb  •  Oct 26, 2010 @2:15 pm

      My new MG novel has an illustrated cover and so will the next one. I love them both, as well as the spot art at the heading of each chapter. My books tend to be a bit old-fashioned so the vintagey look suits them. But I admit to worrying about losing some readers for lack of a coolness factor. But then, I am always worrying about something…

    29. ShannonMessenger  •  Oct 26, 2010 @9:04 pm

      Tracy: Aw, thank you. And I agree, let them be kids–they have enough pressure. Give them covers they actually like, not covers we tell them they should like to be respected by teachers and peers.

      Tricia: LOL–yay for worriers, I am the QUEEN of worrying. And I’m sure your covers won’t hinder the readers at all. :)

    30. tommy greenwald  •  Oct 27, 2010 @8:22 am

      interesting discussion… when i saw the cover to my MG novel i thought it was a clear reference to wimpy kid, which i first thought was a little too obvious, but i quickly realized: why not? as role models go… the other interesting thing i’ll share is that my editor once told me that barnes and noble would not accept a cover she was submitting on a book (not mine) because it was a photograph and they had a policy against MG covers with photographs… don’t know if that policy has changed but she was pretty mad…

    31. Elissa Cruz  •  Oct 27, 2010 @8:43 am

      Fascinating topic, Shannon. I’ve been watching the change in covers, both in MG and YA, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it.

      But, anyway, great job and welcome to the blog!

    32. ShannonMessenger  •  Oct 27, 2010 @5:58 pm

      Tommy: Wow–a book being rejected because of the cover? WOWZA. And I actually like your cover a lot, and I think kids will LOVE it. Which is what really matters most.

      Elissa: Yeah, there’s a definite change coming. I guess it’s good that we don’t know how we feel about it, since we can’t do anything about it–le sigh. And aw, thanks. So glad to be a part of this awesome, awesome blog!

    33. Jennie  •  Oct 29, 2010 @4:12 pm

      Well, I remember back when the limited YA market was all illustrated covers. Part of it also is economics– photoshopping some stock photography takes a lot less time and is less expensive than hiring an artist to do a cover.

      And when I was in 5th grade… oh, how fondly I loved my copy of Matilda, because while the cover was a Quentin Blake illustration, the title was in raised, shiny letters, just like all the adult mass market paperbacks, so it was totally a grown-up book.