When I took my first actual class on young adult literature, I learned the name Richard Peck. Know it? If not, don’t fear: I didn’t either. But when you hear about a book called Are You in the House Alone and see the very, uh, amusing covers for what was one of the first true adolescent novels (and horror ones at that), you remember the name.
So since then, I haven’t thought too much about him, but I know his name well now that I work regularly with his books. I noticed something really interesting, as he’s always been easily identified as a classical young adult writer. You can kind of get that idea from his book covers. Check out this non-comprehensive gallery from the 1970s to 2008. His books hit all genres and since these cover a wide range of time in design aesthetics, it’s interesting to look at:
Not always the highest of design or appeal, but the author’s name alone can sell the book. Imagine my surprise when his forthcoming title was on more than on “Waiting for Wednesday” post. “What?” I thought to myself. I don’t remember people ever getting that excited about a new Richard Peck book (kind of like they don’t get excited about a new Gary Paulsen book or a new Ann Rinaldi book, since these are standard authors who ALWAYS do very well). But look at the cover and tell me what you notice:
Interesting marketing technique or genius? I’m not sure. I like the cover and find it really appealing. I think this will get a new generation of readers into his wide catalog of titles. Moreover, what an interesting perspective on how the young adult book market has changed, seen simply from the changes in covers of one perennial author.
Kelly Jensen is a former librarian turned editor for Book Riot. She's the author of IT HAPPENS: A Guide to Contemporary Realistic Fiction for the YA Reader and the forthcoming Feminism For The Real World (Algonquin Young Readers, Spring 2017).