Sunday, December 13, 2009

New cover for Erdrich's BIRCHBARK HOUSE

Each semester in my courses at Illinois, we read Louise Erdrich's Birchbark House. It's a terrific book, as are the two that followed it, Game of Silence, and, Porcupine Year.

This time, one of the students had a copy with a cover I'd not seen before. Instead of Louise's art on the cover, this one has a photograph (shown here) of a young girl. No doubt the publisher is following a trend of putting photographs rather than illustrations on book covers when a book is reprinted. The rationale is that the photograph is more appealing to the consumer. I wonder who the girl in the photo is?

[Update: December 14, 10:15 AM CST. Heather (in comment) asked to see both covers, so I've added the original cover.]


Wendy said...

While I do think The Birchbark House could use a redesign (I've got a copy I'm giving to a little girl for Christmas right here, and it looks more like a grown-up book), that cover really doesn't do it for me. Could it GIVE less information about the book?

Debbie Reese said...

While I like the photograph a lot, I prefer the versions with Louise's art on the cover.

If you've got a copy of the older version, it would be interesting to know what the little girl you're giving the book to has to say about the two covers. Can you ask her at some point after Christmas?

Heather said...

could you post the two for comparison. I am not familiar with either. Thanks.

jpm said...

I tend to agree with Wendy that the photograph says very little about the book. For one thing, it gives it a very contemporary look; I think of a child at a modern powwow or festival, rather than a girl who might scrape hides and survive smallpox and live in a house made of birchark. Like Debbie, I like the cover designed by the author. Maybe a lot of thought went into the selection of the photograph, but with it on the cover, I don't feel the connection to the text that Louise created with her drawings.

Rosanne Parry said...

Although I'm inclined to agree with opinions here, the girl in the photo is very appealing and the chain bookstores strongly favor photographic covers. It's one of those tricky questions. Shall we go with what is artistically better and reach a narrow audience or choose something graphically appealing and broaden the reach of the book?

Since freshening the cover does nothing to alter the text, I come down in favor of what ever earns this author the kind of income her strong writing deserves.