100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

Suckers Re-Illustrated

You want ’em re-illustrated? You got ’em re-illustrated! A couple weeks back, A Fuse #8 Production posted Re-Illustrate That Sucker!, a call to update the artwork of some excellent (and visually dated) older books. I decided to dust off the cover makeover rules I established in my “Cover Covers” posts and try my hand at refreshing these gems.

The rules are as follows:

1. I must use an image that has a creative commons license on Flickrcc or Google Images.

2. I have 5 minutes to find an image by searching for title keywords.

3. After an image is chosen, I have 5 minutes to create the cover using image editing website Picnik. This time-limit rule comes in handy for future excuse-making.

So what did I discover? That this cover stuff is probably best kept to the experts. A couple turned out alright, but a larger number did not. But, hey, what do you expect? I only had five minutes to work on them (see how that rule comes in handy?).

Let’s get started.

The Winged Girl of Knossos by Erick Berry



Verdict: I kinda liked this one actually. Probably my favorite of the bunch. The colors give it some hipness.

A Stranger Came Ashore by Mollie Hunter



Verdict: This sends a clear “some supernatural stuff is about to go down!” message, but I don’t see kids picking this up much. What do you think?

Else-Marie and Her Seven Little Daddies by Pija Lindenbaum



Verdict: Definitely bold, but not very interesting.

Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace



Verdict: Oh no. Not good. Nope.

The Changeover by Margaret Mahy



Verdict: A good ol’ “what does this have to do with the story?” cover. Maybe the world needs more of these. Then again, this is definitely less eye-catching than the original, so maybe not.

Ultra-Violet Catastrophe!, or, The Unexpected Walk With Great-Uncle Magnus Pringle by Margaret Mahy



Verdict: Certainly an updated look. This image could be an issue unless Ms. Mahy wants to update the text to describe Great Uncle Magnus as “tatted up”.

The Changeling Sea by Patricia McKillip



Verdict: I kinda like this one. I don’t think the girl on the cover matches the description in the book, but it definitely freshens up the look.

The Wedding Procession of the Rag Doll and the Broom Handle and Who Was In It by Carl Sandburg, illustrated by Harriet Pincus



Verdict: Now available on Etsy.

William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by William Pene du Bois



Verdict: I like this one. Not sure kids would dig it, but I’d probably look twice if this was on the shelf.

I am now accepting your critiques.

Image Credits:




Image: ‘c177‘ http://www.flickr.com/photos/37832664@N02/3688870019


Image: ‘Uncle Leon‘ http://www.flickr.com/photos/39466964@N00/318543217

Image: ‘Mar desconocido‘ http://www.flickr.com/photos/25463184@N07/3590301022


Image: ‘Anthony & Mattel Ken Doll 1963‘ http://www.flickr.com/photos/84387357@N00/3399406221

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. You have such a knack for cover design. Seriously.

    • That’s nice of you to say – I’m assuming you missed the Betsy-Tacy cover. And possibly the Wedding Procession cover as well.

  2. i think the first is a favorite, too. mostly i am in love with the fonts used.
    i hadn’t read any of those stories, but seeing the original covers and admiring the pics you unearthed in under five minutes (do like the changeling sea art) i am impressed with the outcomes, even Betsy-Tacy, though i think just a change of font on the title.
    your cover re-cover rules present a fun and interesting challenge.

  3. Wow! I really like your cover for The Winged Girl. Nice work!

  4. Winged Girl is definitely my favorite of the bunch!

    Am I the only one who actually likes the original covers for Else-Marie and Changeling Sea?

  5. Tom Angleberger says:

    The new Great Uncle Magnus is a total winner! That thing would fly off shelves!

  6. Travis, you have way too much fun with these, and I’m jealous.

    I like both Winged Girl covers, I have to say. There’s something neat about the original drawing there. I don’t know why, but it’s cool. Uncle Magnus is great, too. Else-Marie, though–now it looks like some frightening dadaist epic.

    • Ha – yeah, the Else-Marie re-do looks like it should run about 600 pages. Also, I’m with you on Winged Girl – the original is really cool.
      Here’s a question – do you think if these original covers hit the shelves in 2010, they would be as off-putting to kids? How much does the fact that kids know these books are old have an affect on shelf appeal? Some are certainly just not very exciting to look at, but others (Winged Girl) seem like they could make a splash. Any thoughts?

  7. I really like your treatment of “A Stranger Came Ashore.” Nice job with the fonts. With a more, um, “informative” title or a tagline catchier than “he is not what he appears to be,” I think it’d have some potential.

  8. Ultra-Violet Catastrophe’s the best one! I have to read that (but only with your cover!)

  9. Travis,
    I really like this idea and will be “borrowing it” for use with my fourth and fifth graders. It’s good for many reasons, but especially for understanding CC licensed images and crediting photo sources. Brilliant work!

  10. You have committed a crime against my beloved BETSY TACY that really should not go unpunished. Seriously, why do you have her FARMING??? And the book is about 2 girls, best friends, to have one on the cover is…weird. And who is the ghost baby in the background? The initial cover is not great either and both yours and hers are better than I could do in a million years. Somehow looking at yours fills me with a slow burning rage. And yet I have decided that the pleasure that your blog has given me lo these last few months makes up for the heresy.
    You need not fear the Betsy Tacy Vigilante Squad.