Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Monday, July 05, 2010

Teen book cover art can be both of the times and timeless

Coming to my Must Read pile very soon from Booksfree( my online book loan program) is Lizzie Skurnick's Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading,a collection of essays about those titles once quaintly known as Young Adult books ,which have the more stylish abbreviation YA these days.

In checking out the author's website,I noticed a galley of book covers from several of the works featured that brought back many great literary memories for me. Just looking at those illustrations that caught my eye back in the days when scanning the local library for something new to read sent me back in time faster than a certain souped-up hot tub teleporter.

With such waves of nostalgia taking me over,it seemed like a good idea to see if I could find any other covers from my reading past to present to all of you for some old school show and tell:


This book may be out of print but it holds strong in my memory,as it tells the tale of a young runaway who finds the man of her dreams,or so she thinks.

He's a pimp named Favor who turns her out into the streets to earn her keep in a not at all pretty woman way. Yes,it's a cautionary tale but not a sleazy one;think of it as a gritter version of that Facts of Life episode where Tootie almost got hustled into hookerdom.

The 1983 art work has a sad tone to it(not to mention the 1970s look to Favor's pimp wear)and the dime a dance hairstyle and apparel that our cover girl is sporting is quickly belied by the childish features of her face. It's a subtly haunting tone that could've been easily twisted into a bad movie poster or obvious "look what can happen to YOU!" warning sign but fortunately wasn't.


Another out of print wonder,this Kin Platt novel is narrated by Jenny,the younger sister of cranky Chloris who hates any man her mother dates on sight. When Mom does finally get remarried to a nice guy named Fidel Mancha(now that's a memorable name indeed),Chloris still doesn't let up on her campaign to make everyone else's life as miserable as she feels.

This book(and it's sequel,Chloris and the Freaks)was written in the early seventies,other wise our gal Chloris would be knee deep in therapy and Ritalin these days. Since her stepfather is an artist,having this seriously in need of anger management gal glowering in his art studio(which does get trashed by this nasty little missy at one point)is not only appropriate but a good way of showing her simmering temper towards the world around her.


This may appear to be a tad too symbolic an approach to the artwork but Betsy Byars' story about three kids from troubled backgrounds forming a family of sorts while staying together in the same foster home is deserving of a distinctive cover and it certainly got one here.

The trapped maze that the three main characters are in perfectly reflects the tangled network of legal and emotional boundaries that they must struggle through to come out stronger on the other side.

The book was popular enough to be adapted for an ABC Afterschool Special and even today,the author still gets requests for a follow-up book. It's a shame that we don't have another showcase for YA lit on TV that isn't all vamps and soap opera hijinks(I love vampires,but there is more to offer teenagers out there in the book world). Maybe it will fall to cable to come up with something suitable to the modern day reader and viewer:


S.E. Hinton's boy centered novels were just as intriguing to girl readers and the urban cowboy cover design chosen here for one of her gentler stories of brotherly bonding was on the heels of the country western revival brewing up in more adult quarters of the pop culture scene.

An interesting side note,the cover photo for the 1982 movie tie-in edition of the book directly echoes the previous art work. That film doesn't get as much love as The Outsiders,but it should be taken out of storage for the next generation to take a look at.

It's a perfect match of subject and theme,when it comes to the cover,and I do hope for a nice special edition DVD to give this little movie the TLC that it's characters are craving but too proud to ask for:

Well,I am definitely eager to read Shelf Discovery and see what insights the contributors to this collection have to offer about those teen books of yesteryear. Many folks are rather concerned about what young people are reading these days and quick to hand over a ton of suggestions for their proper perusal.

In my opinion,however,those kids who caught the book bug early on are more in need of storage space than other tomes to add to their in danger of toppling over piles,so check before you recommend,folks:

No comments: