Thursday, July 23, 2009

On judging a book by its cover

You might have heard the brouhaha about Justina Larbalestier's book, LIAR. Many people say the cover--of a light-skinned girl hiding behind her hair--doesn't match the protagonist, who is black.

Here's Justina's take on it, on how much say the author really has on a cover, on working with Bloomsbury, and the disturbing notion that covers with black people don't sell.

Meanwhile, here's my take on an argument a librarian made in School Library Journal that publishers should make more books with boy protagonists because boys don't want to read about girls.

4 comments:

Debbie said...

Thanks so much for sharing this article. I've gone through this debate with a publisher recently, and it's so disturbing to know how widespread and institutionalized this practice of whitewashing book covers is.

Deb Lund said...

Three cheers, Martha. Can't wait to show your piece to my son Kaj (12). One of his favorite books is Skulduggery Pleasant. Though it does have a dapper skeleton in it, it's spunky Stephanie we cheer on. Kaj loves to share what he's reading and to hear what others are reading, too. He's on a little "sabbatical" from his blog, but he'll be at it again before fall. http://portalreads.edublogs.org

Michèle Griskey said...

Thank you for addressing this issue Martha.

Martha Brockenbrough said...

Deb, I *totally* should have mentioned that book in my piece. Many others, too--but I particularly love that book. What genius edited it? :-)

I do think this is just a good reminder for us to think about our characters and how we portray them--it takes a lot of courage to make a character who stands outside the mainstream in some way. It's such a huge gift to a reader to see the world through someone else's eyes.

I love some of the autism novels I've read lately, for example. MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD was breathtaking. I hope kids are finding these books in addition to the ones that feel more immediately relatable.

Cheers, everyone!