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Unfortunate Covers (#20)

Of all the Unfortunate Covers, the most difficult to name are the ones I love. Today we take a look at one of my all-time favorites, sporting a cover that just isn’t getting much attention from kids. This one hurts.

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey

I understand this is sacrilege, but with the cover above, this classic has been a tough sell. There’s something about large swaths of brown that have a way of declaring “no need to pick me up, I’m cool here on the shelf”. And it’s too bad – Homer Price has a better shot at appealing to today’s kids than most books from its era.

But here’s the problem – how do you update the cover? I would never want a non-McCloskey illustration or, heaven forbid (please), a photographic redo.

I think with the right colors and type like they could pull off an update while still using the same basic image.

Although it has been tried in the past. Did you know Homer Price was in early on the pink cover trend?

A trailblazer, I’d say.

Check out previous Unfortunate Covers:

#1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19.

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. Sue Kimmet says

    You are so right about this book! It is so good, but the cover is a real turn-off for kids. Adults, too. It has little interest, and the pink doesn’t help at all. A modern appearing cover would make all the difference.

  2. I’ve always loved this cover! You don’t see too many brown and blue children’s book covers, which gives it unique appeal. Not so much on the pink though—neon clash attack.


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