The Thirteenth Princess

I recently read Diane Zahler's The Thirteenth Princess, which is a HarperCollins book coming out in February 2010. I know, I know, it's a long ways off. What I want to talk about is the covers. Here is the original cover for the book:

After various discussions that I was not privy to, the cover was changed to this:

Rebecca's Book Blog has a discussion going on about it as well, and I was curious to know your thoughts. And I don't think it matters, at this point, that you haven't read the book because we're talking about what the cover looks like on the shelf and whether someone would be motivated to pull it off the shelf based on the cover (because we do that and we know children do that).

Which cover are you drawn to or would be more likely to read? More importantly, what about the kids in your library? Which would they like better? Some of Rebecca's commenters get at this, but I do think there is a big difference here as far as what kids will find attractive and what we adults like best.

It's a solid middle-grade novel, approriate for ages 9 - 14, I think. The new cover is a permanent choice but I still want to talk about it. Because the covers are just so different and really appeal to a different kind of reader.

Can you tell I'm censoring my opinion? Yeah, I am...kind of have to, right? But you can express away.

Which one do you feel is better?


Erin said...

Wow...the new cover is horrible and very outdated. The first cover had a much more modern appeal and aesthetic. I think this was a very poor choice on their part. Personally I would never pick up this book with the second cover. It just wouldn't call to me from the shelf at all.

Meghan said...

The new cover reads younger and more fairytale to me. The original cover looks more YA and a little bit sexy IMO. I haven't read the book and so I don't know what the story is about. It would be easier to hand sell the original cover to 6th grade +.

Jennifer said...

I'd assume the new cover was from the 80s or older and probably weed it by accident some day. Bad choice in my opinion. I do think the older cover does look too old for the intended audience, altho it's pretty. Both bad ideas.

marjorie said...

i asked my 7-year-old, a rabid reader, which cover she liked. i quote:

"the first one is a million times better. it would interest any kid from my age to a teenager. i love the picture. she looks real. i want to read it. the second one has nice swirly writing but it looks babyish. i don't think that girl there would have real problems i was interested in. she just looks like a boring princess."

Nancy Nisselbaum said...

The new cover is definitely more fairy tale liek, that was my first reaction. It seems to be trying to appeal to a younger audience than the first book. In just looking at cov ers, I'd assume from the new cover that it's for enw readers or girls who are still being read to. The original cover spoke more of independence.

Anali said...

I think it's interesting the difference of opinion between this blog and over at Rebecca's - here, we seem to all prefer the old cover, there, they prefer the new.

Does this have something to say about different readership? Or influence on the part of the blogger? :-)

I totally like the old one better - I think the new one looks like all the other zillions of princess books. But I'm not a children's librarian, nor a parent, nor the target audience -so maybe that's what they want.

LaurieA-B said...

I work with middle school students. I don't see either cover appealing much to my students. I agree with other commenters that the second cover looks babyish. The first cover would appeal a bit more to older readers, but the perfect Barbie-doll look is a bit odd.

The new covers on the Eva Ibbotson novels from Penguin/Speak seem to be very appealing to MS girls who like princess-type books (see Countess Below Stairs, for example).

Unknown said...

Laurie, the cover for Countess Below Stairs is really wonderful. I even like the original cover as well. I don't mind when a middle-grade novel has a more YA-y cover because, in my experience, that age group tends to want to feel like they're reading up.

Anali, really???? I really, really didn't want there to be bias on my part! It came through? Damn. I try, but I think that I'm ultimately incapable of being objective. Ever. I'm such an emotional reader.

Lastly, I had a friend email me privately about these covers, and she brings up the first cover being "white and rosy"...in a bad way. I mean, the character is described as such in the book but perhaps the first cover is over the top? Does it alienate potential readers?

Unknown said...

Marjorie, I LOVE getting the kid perspective! Her thoughts were incredibly articulate, particularly "boring princess." We can all agree that princesses have been done and re-done and then rehashed some more. How do you keep it fresh and interesting? That's the core issue. And does this cover accomplish that? I hear you loud and clear, P&P readers.

On another note, I checked out your blog and 1) I loved the Patrick Swayze tribute, and 2) I MUST know where your daughter goes to school. It sounds WONDERFUL!

marjorie said...

aw, thanks so much, laura! i LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this blog.

i don't want to post the name of my kid's school (when i was a columnist at The Forward, i had a crazy email correspondent, so i'm wary) but do email me -- i'll sing its praises to the skies!

Erin said...

When I was younger, say, ages 7-12/13, I would've preferred the new cover. Definitely. I loved old-fashioned fairy tales. Now, though, the old cover appeals to me most.

Jenn said...

i'm late to the game here, but i have to agree with what has mostly been said ... i vastly prefer the original cover and suspect that it would be more popular in my library as well. granted, my population skews a bit older because of the nearby middle school, but still. i might even make the horrid decision to not purchase the book based on that covered, if it were one of those tight budget months.

Anonymous said...

If I saw the first cover on a shelf I would grab it instantly. It looks a lot like a collection of Eva Ibbotson books I have. If I saw the second cover I wouldn't stop. It looks a lot younger and just doesn't call to me.