100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

Unfortunate Covers (#14)

What is an Unfortunate Cover? One part great/classic book, one part unappealing cover. Take a look at past Unfortunates:

#1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13.

Now, on to today’s cover. So where do you stand on landscapes?

It hurts that the latest inductee into the Hall of the Unfortunate is another Newbery Honor, but so it is…

Sing Down the Moon by Scott O’Dell.

While setting plays a huge part in O’Dell’s Sing Down the Moon, the choice to put this element front and center has, unfortunately, not helped shelf appeal.

Looking at this cover took me back to my high school days. It’s been over a decade since my AP Lit class, yet I still remember the cover of one of the books we read, another that sports a landscape cover:

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad.

Similar to Sing Down the Moon, the cover of Lord Jim made it a tough sell to me and my fellow high school seniors.

A 2010 Batchelder honor book also falls into this category. It came as a Junior Library Guild selection to my 5th and 6th grade building last month, and it has yet to make it off the “New Books” table:

Eidi by Bodil Bredsdorff.

To this 28 year old librarian’s eyes? Beautiful covers all. But can we agree that landscapes don’t work for children’s book covers?

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.