The Cover Wars

11 and holding

Macy Hollinquest is eleven years old, and don’t count on her to change that anytime soon.

Her birthday is just days away, but she has no intention of turning twelve without her dad by her side. He’d promised to be there for her big day—and yet he’s been gone for months, away doing some kind of secret “important work” after being discharged from the Marines. So she’s staying eleven, no matter what—that is, until she meets Ginger, a nice older lady who is searching for her missing dog. Could Ginger be the perfect cover for attempting to locate her dad?

Macy’s search puts her on a path to a head-on collision with the truth, where she discovers that knowing can sometimes be a heavy burden. And that change, when finally accepted, comes with an unexpected kind of grace.

Mary Penney’s earnest, heartfelt story of change, loss, and new beginnings will resonate with readers on the cusp of new beginnings, and stay in their hearts long after it’s done.

Nafiza: Oh this sounds seriously heavy. The theme for this week’s cover wars is houses and I thought it interesting to see how homes are portrayed on covers for children. I do love the title and Macy’s determination to stay 11 no matter what but this just means the story is going to be heartbreaking. Still, I’m intrigued and will probably give it a try. The back copy is extremely persuasive though I feel like it does suffer some moments of cliche.

Janet: The dimensions of the house look ever so slightly askew to me, and I like it for that. Also admirable is the use of white (ecru? beigeish?) space and the shadow. The back copy sounds heavy, as Nafiza said, but that isn’t a bad thing in my books.

Yash: So, pretty much everything works for me here: the illustration style, the title, the detail of birthday balloons peeking out of the window. Something about the pale background that annoys me. I just … don’t want to look at this cover too long??? Okay, petty non-reasons aside, I do think the premise the book is very interesting. It is definitely going to make me cry, but I think it has the potential to offer up some laughs on the way? I hope? Anyway, I’m interested.

Cogheart Peter Bunzl

Lily’s life is in mortal peril. Her father is missing and now silver-eyed men stalk her through the shadows. What could they want from her?

With her friends – Robert, the clockmaker’s son, and Malkin, her mechanical fox – Lily is plunged into a murky and menacing world. Too soon Lily realizes that those she holds dear may be the very ones to break her heart…

Murder, mayhem and mystery meet in this gripping Victorian adventure.

Nafiza: I’m enjoying this cover quite a bit. Which means I probably will give this middlegrade a try. I mean, Victorian adventure! We all know Victorians had the greatest adventures.

Janet: Nothing quite appeals about this cover, with the possible exception of the portrait. (I like portraits; it is interesting to imagine what kind of person the one painted or photographed is.) The back copy is vague and uninteresting; give me details, please.

Yash: Okay, see, something about the deep, starry blue background of this cover draws me in. I feel like my eyes can rest there for as long as they like–unlike the background for the previous cover. (Is it just that that pale colour reminds me of the annoyingly weak sunlight that filters through grey clouds?) And I like the little paper cut-outs/collage, especially of the little fox! And the synopsis may be stark, but it is intriguing enough to make me want to read the first page. Plus! There is a mechanical fox! If Nafiza likes it, I will badger her to lend this to me.


(back copy of first book in this series)

A dilapidated school with the most unpromising of pupils and eccentric of teachers, led by an educational maverick, must unravel the mystery of what is going on in its secret cellars if it is to avoid complete ruin.

Nafiza: There are so many things happening on this cover I feel like I could write a paper on it. It certainly has me intrigued. The back copy says very little which is just as well because this cover (and all the covers in this series) say quite a bit.

Janet: The title font is difficult to read. I am concerned for the wellbeing of that horse (do NOT fire that arrow, child who is holding a bow upside down), and yet – secret cellars. Most intriguing. I might wait to see what Nafiza thinks; then again, I might not.

Yash: There is a … lot going on on the cover. And honestly, whether I pick it up or not is something that may depend on how much time I have left at a bookstore. I need the covers to tell me things and if I’m in a rush, I don’t know if I’d stand there gazing at the details. And yes, while the details are interesting, I don’t know about the illustration style. (ALSO LOL AT THE UPSIDE DOWN BOW! Please let that be a reference to something that happens in the book?) Anyway, the synopsis doesn’t say much and I’m not really feeling a school story right now, so, pass.


A girl must stop the Boogeyman living in her home from stealing her family’s warmest memories in this haunting, atmospheric novel from the author of Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times and The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden.

When her distant aunt and uncle die, Amelia Howling is forced to move into their home when they leave her parents in charge of their children. Her parents assure her that it will be like having a grand adventure with three new siblings, but Amelia is not convinced. Luckily, the house is large, filled with nooks and crannies perfect for hiding from her cousins.

But even with all the nooks and crannies, the rumbling and crumbling rooms are more sinister than they seem. The house was built years ago by a creature named Horatio, and he’s been waiting for the perfect human inhabitant: Amelia. Horatio has the power to travel through time and memories, and lures Amelia into his world. The memories of children, he told her, were the best, and Amelia agreed—her cousins were full of good memories. Until she noticed that once she and Horatio visited a memory, it was gone forever. And she had been stealing the good memories of her cousins and their parents without even noticing!

Horrified and scared, Amelia lets her cousins in on her secret, and asks them for help. Together, they must race through time to recover their minds and break the perfect clockwork of the evil Calendar House.

Nafiza: I don’t know who Trevayne sacrificed to but her covers are always so exquisite. However, the back copy is a bit clunky and doesn’t really hold my interest. Amelia wants to hide from her cousins but we don’t know why. Are they mean? Do they bully her? Can she not understand that they must be grieving for their parents? Just..not very compelling. It’s a pass for me.

Janet: The cover looks like it was designed by Disney short animators. I expect the trees to start swaying and mechanical cranking sounds to emanate from the house any second now. The back, though, is just too much. Stories with a central Evil House inhabited by Evil Villain rarely live up to their hype, in my (recent) experience. I’ll pass.

Yash: I’m with Nafiza. I suspect that Trevayne has sold her soul. Or sacrificed a new born. Her covers are consistently lovely. I don’t know if I enjoy her writing quite as much though. So, while I do love the cover and that incredible house, I don’t know if this is for me.


As a lethal plague sweeps through the land, Ani Mells is shocked when she is unexpectedly captured by the governor’s wardens and forced to submit to a test for the deadly Scourge. She is even more surprised when the test results come back positive, and she is sent to Attic Island, a former prison turned refuge — and quarantine colony — for the ill. The Scourge’s victims, Ani now among them, can only expect to live out short, painful lives there. However, Ani quickly discovers that she doesn’t know the whole truth about the Scourge or the Colony. She’s been caught in a devious plot, and, with the help of her best friend, Weevil, Ani means to uncover just what is actually going on.

But will she and Weevil survive long enough to do so?

Nafiza: I find the cover to be a bit boring, honestly. And the synopsis seems a lot like a dystopian novel. Nope. Not for me.

Janet: The cover and the back copy promise completely different stories. The cover has an adventurous, possibly lower-class girl from a different time period. The back is dystopian sci-fi, likely at some unspecified point in the future. I would read the book of the front cover. The book of the back copy I will leave for Steph.

Yash: Yeah, this isn’t something I’d enjoy, I think. Sorry. Pass.


Since the accident, Angela has been alone. When she is invited on holiday with her cousins, it is her chance to be part of a family again if she promises to behave herself. But secrets lie in the walls of the crumbling French holiday home and the forbidden rooms draw Angela in. Soon night-time footsteps, flickering candlelight and shadows in windows lead her to a boy who needs her help. To save him Angela must discover the truth about what happened in the house all those years ago . . . and face the terrible secret of her own past.

Nafiza: Hmm. I like the cover. The art is quite my style and the synopsis intrigues without giving anything away. I shall pick it up if I see it in the library.

Janet:I like the spots of light and colour against a variety of darker background shades. The back copy seemed only mildly interesting at first glance but becomes more intriguing each time I read it. I’d look for this.

Yash: Oh, there’s that nice blue again. Except, there’s something about this illustrative style that makes me feel like this is still the third draft of the cover? Like, there’s something missing. But I do love it. I would say that 50% of why I want to read it is the title. And the man at the window makes an impression too. Or is it the boy mentioned in the synopsis who’s hanging out by the window? I guess I’ll find out. TBR.

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