Johnson started out with an idle musing on Twitter: “I do wish I had a dime for every email I get that says: ‘Please put a non-girly cover on your book so I can read it – signed, A Guy.’”
She pointed to one of her own covers as an example – showing, on a neon pink background, an image of an attractive teenage girl displaying part of her stomach, with the words “a novel” in a dark pink heart. “This is The Key to the Golden Firebird. It’s about three sisters who are dealing with the sudden death of their father. May, the middle sister, is trying to hold her family together and learn how to drive. This is the cover,” said Johnson.
She was inundated with support, prompting her to ask her fans to redesign books by male authors, imagining them as by and for female readers. “Take a well-known book … Imagine that book was written by an author of the opposite gender. Or a genderqueer author. Imagine all the things you think of when you think girl book or boy book or genderless book (do they exist?). And I’m not saying that these categorisations are right – but make no mistake, they’re there,” Johnson urged.
You can check out responses to Johnson’s challenge at:
Suddenly, it seems like gay characters are everywhere in Y.A. literature. Or, if not everywhere, certainly in far more places and in a greater variety than ever before. Perhaps the most eye-catching recent example, which preceded Time’s controversial new issue, is David Levithan’s upcoming Two Boys Kissing—and its cover with, yes, two boys kissing. But beyond the covers, plots involving LGBT characters are twisting and turning and emerging anew from the traditional coming-out story of years past.
“Anyone who tells you they know what’s coming, what things will be like in 10 years’ time, is simply lying to you,” according to the author Neil Gaiman, fresh from a provocative speech at this week’s London Book Fair where he urged major figures in the book business to “try everything. Make mistakes. Surprise ourselves. Try anything else. Fail. Fail better. And succeed in ways we never would have imagined a year or a week ago.”
Having lately been examining two versions of Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Dolittle (1920, 1988) and three versions of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964, 1973, 1998), we’ve been addressing this question: Do Bowdlerized texts alter the ideological assumptions of the original? The answer is more complicated than you might think.
Chip Kidd: Designing books is no laughing matter. OK, it is.
Chip Kidd doesn’t judge books by their cover, he creates covers that embody the book — and he does it with a wicked sense of humor. In one of the funniest talks from TED2012, he shows the art and deep thought of his cover designs. (From The Design Studio session at TED2012, guest-curated by Chee Pearlman andDavid Rockwell.)
“If you haven’t seen Molly Idle’s newest wordless picture book—Flora and the Flamingo (Chronicle, February 2013), pictured above—and you are a true blue picture book fan, you should take a look, especially if you like to see an illustrator show you how line and movement can tell a story. (The book also includes flaps—see herefor a demonstration—which really seem to serve a purpose and aren’t just there for kicks and grins.)”
What you probably haven’t heard is that Room to Read is also a huge publisher. In the almost 10 years since the NGO entered the publishing game, it has published more than 850 titles. That figure will hit 1,000 by the end of this year.