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Saturday, August 5, 2017

COVER REVEAL: Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth by Sheila O'Connor (Putnam, 04/18)


Sheila O'Connor is the critically acclaimed author of Tokens of GraceWhere No Gods CameKeeping Safe the Stars and Sparrow Road. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is a professor in the MFA program at Hamline University, where she also serves as the fiction editor for Water~Stone Review. As a longtime writer-in-the-schools, Sheila has encouraged thousands of young people to write their stories. Today I have the absolute pleasure of revealing the cover for her 2018 release, Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth. Find out more about the book and view the truly excellent cover below!
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About the Book


Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, one young girl is determined to save her brother from the draft—and gets help from an unlikely source—in this middle-grade tale, perfect for fans of The Wednesday Wars
When eleven-year-old Reenie Kelly’s mother passes away, she and her brothers are shipped off to live with their grandmother. Adjusting to life in her parents’ Midwestern hometown isn’t easy, but once Reenie takes up a paper route with her older brother Dare, she has something she can look forward to. As they introduce themselves to every home on their route, Reenie’s stumped by just one—the house belonging to Mr. Marsworth, the town recluse. When he doesn’t answer his doorbell, Reenie begins to leave him letters. Slowly, the two become pen pals, striking up the most unlikely of friendships.
Through their letters, Reenie tells of her older brother Billy, who might enlist to fight in the Vietnam War. Reenie is desperate to stop him, and when Mr. Marsworth hears this, he knows he can’t stand idly by. As a staunch pacifist, Mr. Marsworth offers to help Reenie. Together, they concoct a plan to keep Billy home, though Reenie doesn’t know Mr. Marsworth’s dedication to her cause goes far beyond his antiwar beliefs.
In this heartwarming piece of historical fiction, critically acclaimed author Sheila O’Connor delivers a tale of devotion, sacrifice, and family.
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Interview

What was the cover design process like? Were you very involved in the process? 

I had my first glimpse of the cover while on vacation in Mexico.  Its arrival was completely unexpected, and I was thrilled to open an email that contained another artist’s vision of the work.  For me, it’s incredibly exciting to discover what someone else sees in my books.  Also, there’s something about a cover that makes a book real, that turns it into a tangible object beyond my own imagination.
I’m not a designer, so I try to respect the expertise of the artist in the cover process.  Early on, I offered some small suggestions, minor concerns connected with the book’s content, and I think we had a couple of more rounds where I was able to weigh in, but mostly this was in the hands of the good people at G.P. Putnam’s Sons who understand marketing and sales, and what makes a reader pick up a book. 
What's your favorite part of the cover treatment?

From the first, I was struck by the designer’s ability to capture the essence of the book with a central image.  It’s a story about an eleven-year-old girl, Reenie Kelly, and a reclusive neighbor, Mr. Marsworth, who begin a friendship via letters when he learns of her fear that her older brother Billy could be sent to fight in Vietnam.  I love that the designer was able to capture the relationship between Reenie and Mr. Marsworth, and also so many other aspects of the book in that central image: 1968, peace, war, Reenie’s spunk and Mr. Marsworth’s desire to be left alone.  It’s an epistolary novel that unfolds entirely through letters, so I also loved what the designer did with font.  
And here’s a story that says it better:  Not long ago, I showed an early draft of the cover to a young friend, and I asked her what she thought the book was about based on the cover.   It was kind of a quiz, I guess, to see what the cover would say to my target audience.  “I think it’s a story about a girl who wants to be friends with an old man, and he isn’t sure, and so she starts writing him letters.”  I was amazed she saw that in the cover, and to me it’s evidence that the designers really do work magic.

What qualities will the ideal reader of your book have? 

That’s a great question!  As someone who writes for both adults and young people, I’ve always said I write my MG books for readers of all ages, and that’s true of this one as well.  I think the ideal reader of Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth, probably shares some qualities with either Reenie Kelly, or Mr. Marsworth, two characters who are opposites in many ways.  Readers who share Reenie’s voracious curiosity will be eager to learn about this period in history, particularly the ways the Vietnam War divided America.   Readers that share her spunk, her perseverance, or her hunger for friendship and justice, will also find a home here.  At the same time, the book will speak to thoughtful, quiet readers, readers with a commitment to peace who can relate to Mr. Marsworth.   The one quality both characters share is their great love for humanity, and in the end, that’s the most important thing I hope for in a reader.  I am writing for a reader who desires to be moved and changed by someone else’s story.  
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Reveal 

 And now for the much-anticipated cover reveal of Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth!


DRUMROLL PLEASE!

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Publisher: Putnam
 Release Date: 04/03/2018

I'm honestly in love with the color choices and font used for this cover! Share your thoughts in the comments and be sure to add Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth to your Goodreads and upcoming reads list!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

COVER REVEAL: Granted by John David Anderson (Walden Pond Press, 2/18)



I've professed my love for John David Anderson's books before, so is it any surprise that I'm beyond excited to reveal the cover of Anderson's 2018 novel, Granted? Read on for a description of the story, a note from Anderson, and the cover!
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About the Book

Everyone who wishes upon a star, or a candle, or a penny thrown into a fountain knows that you’re not allowed to tell anyone what you’ve wished for. But even so, rest assured: There is someone out there who hears it.



Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets is no ordinary fairy—she is a Granter: one of the select few whose job it is to venture beyond the boundaries of the Haven and grant the wishes of unsuspecting humans every day. It’s the work of the Granters that generates the magic that allows the fairies to do what they do and to keep the Haven hidden and safe. But with worldwide magic levels at an all-time low, this is not as easy as it sounds. On a typical day, only a small fraction of the millions of wishes made get granted. And even granting those promised few means navigating a human world fraught with danger.



Today, however, is anything but typical. Because today, Ophelia is going out on her first assignment. And she’s about to discover that getting what you truly want takes much more than a handful of fairy dust.
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A Note From the Author


“The world of imagination is boundless.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau 


I joke sometimes with young readers that publishers spend more time debating cover art than they do editing a manuscript, but I understand. I get it. I have been arrested by an image on an endcap at a bookstore, a cover that lures you with its luster. Like that one aunt whose Christmas packages all look immaculate, with curlicue ribbons and the folds perfectly aligned (as opposed to my wrapping, which often consists of last-minute crinkled aluminum foil held together with electrical tape). They are works of art. But they are so much more. There’s good stuff inside. (Or, in the case of that Aunt, there’s an ugly shirt and—hopefully—a gift receipt.)


A book cover is a wrapping, but that wrapping contains a wish. Every book I set out to read carries with it expectations and entreaties. Take me away. Tell me something I don’t know. Make me laugh. Make me cry. Teach me. Comfort me. Entertain me. Surprise me. I suppose I ask a lot of the books I read, but that’s okay: they usually deliver.  They’re cool like that.


A book cover is also a promise. Or maybe just a tease. The famously sad eyes looming over the explosively bright skyline of Gatsby promising tragedy and excess. The endless forests and mountain ranges of Tolkien’s The Hobbit promising an arduous, adventure-filled journey (designed by the author himself, no less—some people get all the gifts). Or from my adolescence: the menacing hand of a monster gripping a sewer grate, making its own macabre promise…we all float down here. Maybe I shouldn’t have read It at such a young age, but it definitely delivered.


A book cover can be a puzzle, too. A mystery. Granted? What’s granted? Is that a fairy? What’s wrong with her wing? Why is she riding a dog? Fairies don’t usually ride dogs, do they? Where are they going? And what’s up with that single gold leaf floating down from the top? Of course to solve it, you have to read it. You have to follow the hobbits into the forest. You have to follow the killer clown into the sewer. You have to hop on the back of the dog and see where he takes you. Hopefully somewhere exciting. Somewhere magical. Somewhere that you’ve never been before but is strangely familiar. The possibilities are endless, after all. 


And that’s what I love most about writing. Those possibilities. That you can write a book about three kids skipping school to visit their teacher in a hospital one day and about a headstrong fairy who breaks the rules in her quest to grant a meaningful wish the next. Though the books be bound and wrapped, the world of imagination is boundless indeed.


A cover is a door. Crack it open and you discover a portal to a whole new world. A fantasy world ruled over by an icy queen. A chocolate factory filled with Oompa Loompas. A school where the lunch lady is a superhero. In the case of Granted, it’s a world where magic is on the wane and wishes are a dime a dozen. A world where granting one such wish isn’t as easy as it sounds and carries potentially catastrophic consequences. A world were fairies do ride on the backs of dogs, but only if they feed those dogs donuts. A world focused on family, friendship, and the difficulty that often comes with following your heart.


The doors to these worlds aren’t locked. They’re open to anyone with an imagination. Just find one you like and jump right in.

John David Anderson is the author of several middle-grade novels including Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, Posted, Sidekicked, and the forthcoming Granted. He would like to thank Julie McLaughlin for the cover design of that book. He would also like to thank Sara for hosting him again (because she’s just that awesome). You can find out more about all of his books by visiting www.johndavidanderson.org.


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 Scroll down to see the cover of Granted!


DRUMROLL PLEASE!

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Publisher: Walden Pond Press
 Release Date: 02/13/2018

I am so charmed by that jaunty pup and curiously torn fairy wing! Share your thoughts in the comments and be sure to add Granted to your Goodreads and upcoming reads list!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

COVER REVEAL: Maggie and Abby's Neverending Pillow Fort by Will Taylor (HarperCollins, 04/18)


I'm absolutely thrilled to share the official cover of Will Taylor's upcoming middle grade novel, Maggie and Abby's Neverending Pillow Fort, at The Hiding Spot today. I've long been a fan of Will's wit and charm via social media, so the idea of finally jumping into this novel of magical pillow forts is incredibly exciting. The countdown to the novel's release on April 3rd, 2018 is on!
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About the Book
Six. Weeks. That’s how long Maggie’s been waiting for her best friend and partner in crime, Abby, to come home from Camp Cantaloupe. Half of summer break may have been lost, but Abby is finally heading back! 

Only when Abby arrives, she’s. . . different. She doesn’t want to play any of their usual epic spy games. All New Abby wants to do is talk about camp things and plan campy activities—she even has the nerve to call Maggie’s massive, award-worthy pillow fort a “cabin.” 

But at least Abby’s excited to build a “cabin” of her own. And when Maggie discovers that a pillow in the back of her fort mysteriously leads right into Abby’s new one, the two friends are suddenly just an arm’s length away. Soon they’re adding links and building more forts, until Maggie looks behind one pillow too many and finders herself face-to-face with. . . the authorities. 

Turns out their little pillow fort network isn’t the first to exist. It’s not even the second, or third, or hundredth. A massive network of linked-up pillow and sofa forts already spans the globe, and the kids who run it are not happy with Maggie and Abby. And they are not fooling around. 

With just three days to pass the North American Founding and Allied Forts Alliance’s outrageous entrance tests or lose the links forever, Maggie and Abby pull out all the stops to try to save their network. But the kids on NAFAFA’s Council have their own agenda, and it just so happens Maggie’s fort might actually hold the key to a mystery that’s gone unanswered for generations. 

 There’s only a little bit of summer left to burn, and Maggie and Abby are determined to win back their pillow fort freedom. But can their mission—and their scrappy homemade network—survive the mission?
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Interview

What was the cover design process like? Were you very involved in the process? 
[My editor] Elizabeth's first email about cover ideas reached me in a chilly dorm-turned-hotel room in the tiny town of Bifrost, Iceland. I was there on a bucket-list trip with my dear best friend Alex Kahler, and I'm pretty sure I danced around the room for a good ten minutes at the very idea of my own cover. In my cut-off dinosaur tee shirt and gym shorts, because laundry day. Once I calmed down I sent back a rambly email of hopes and wishes, along with some comp images. I mostly chose "Magic Schoolbus" covers, because they are awesome and always show Ms. Frizzle and the kids in action, already lost in the adventure, which is where I love to be. After that it was just a long, quiet wait, until I snuck a peek at my phone during work one day and there it was: the cover of my wildest, most there's-no-harm-in-wishing-but-don't-get-your-hopes-up dreams. There was dancing then, too, but it had to be more subdued because there were also customers. Plus I wasn't wearing my dinosaur shirt. 
What's your favorite part of the cover treatment? 
Will claims he now wears less denim.
AM I ALLOWED TO SAY EVERYTHING? I AM SAYING EVERYTHING. I cried when I saw it, and I cried the next morning when I woke up and it was the background on my phone as I turned off my alarm. Having someone who you've never met create an image to represent your book is an alarmingly intimate experience, and [the artist] Monique did such a brilliant job I honestly still can't believe it. There are at least three inside jokes from the book buried in there, and Samson the cat looks so much like Jacob the cat (see author photo), who he was based on, that I'm still not entirely convinced Monique hasn't been going through my photo albums. I love the colors, the framing, the characters, the font...I love everything about it. Everything. 

What qualities will the ideal reader of your book have? 
Oh! Oh, I know this one! The answer is a sincere, actual, not-even-slightly-kidding belief that it's a true story. That linked-up pillow forts, and NAFAFA and ghost mooses and all the rest of it, are real. REALLY real. Really. When I was nine I bought a little old-fashioned key at a flea market for fifty cents, and I've carried it every day since. It smiled up at me from that tray of dingy, forgotten keys, and I've carried it around in the firm belief that someday, somewhere, I'll find a locked cupboard, a strange knot in an oak tree, or a gap in an otherwise normal brick wall that will be waiting for it. And I refuse to be unprepared when that day comes. There is so much room for magic in the world, and I think middle grade is the best genre to bring that possibility to life. And I hope people who read this book will build pillow forts of their own and crawl inside and stare at a pillow and believe, even if just for a moment, that it leads to another pillow fort somewhere else and they can go there. And get into all sorts of trouble.
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Reveal 

 And now for the much-anticipated cover reveal of Maggie and Abby's Neverending Pillow Fort!


DRUMROLL PLEASE!

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Publisher: HarperCollins
 Release Date: 04/03/2018
Cover Artist: Monique Dong
Designer: Jessie Gang
Editor: Elizabeth Lynch

How much do you love this cover!? Share your thoughts in the comments and be sure to add Maggie and Abby's Neverending Pillow Fort to your Goodreads and upcoming reads list!