Friday Faceoff – He who opens a school door closes a prison… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoff


This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is currently being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and the subject this week featuring on any of our covers is SCHOOLS, so I’ve selected Year of the Griffin – Book 2 of the Derkholm series by Diana Wynne Jones.


This edition was produced by HarperCollins in September 2012. I really like the wonderful young griffin flying over the magical school in a scene that is full of drama and excitement. I also like the title font, which is elegant and eye-catching that gives a sense of this excellent, funny school story that deserves to be far better known than it is.


Published in January 2014 by HarperCollinsChildren’sBooks, this excellent cover leaves me a bit conflicted. I love that wonderful ‘magical’ acid green colour with those eye-catching black silhouettes and the fabulous curling fonts. BUT this is a children’s book – and I think this cover has a strong horror vibe, which is unfortunate as it’s nothing of the sort, being an entertaining school story with lots of humour. Otherwise, this one would have been my favourite.


This edition, published by Gollancz in 2001, is another strong cover. That griffin looks magnificent, with the landscaped stretched out below – but again, this cover suggests that this is epic fantasy, rather than a very funny children’s book.


Produced by Азбука in 2018, this Russian edition is my favourite. At long last – a well-designed cover that also is genre-appropriate. I love all the students gathered together in the upper part of the cover, while one of the defining scenes features below it. The font is also suitably quirky. While I’m not sure exactly what it says, I do love that tail emerging from the title font and the dear little mouse at the bottom.


This Japanese edition, published by Tokyo Sogensha in August 2003, is another strong contender, given it also features the main characters in the very grand school quadrangle. But I do like the artwork, particularly that of the characters – they have a strong sense of a Japanese influence. Which one is your favourite?

35 responses »

    • Thank you Tammy! I really struggled to find a book – not about schools, there are loads of those – but who featured said schools on their covers! But thankfully, this one did…:)

  1. The first one is my favourite – it’s the one that I find most striking and the one that makes me want to pick the book up. I also like the third one on your list, the Gollancz one but agree that it does look more like a fantasy book. I agree with you about the Harper Collins cover – it’s really quite stunning but it does look like it might have horror elements so doesn’t truly represent the book. It’s so interesting to see how different publishers approach the cover design for the same novel.

    • Yes – that first one is a great cover and if I hadn’t encountered the Russian effort, it would definitely have been my favourite, too, Hayley.

      And yes… I find it endlessly fascinating just how different covers can be for exactly the same book!

  2. These are all pretty great but I agree that a couple of them don’t really feel like covers for a children’s book. I love the Russian one that you chose and I also keep eyeing that first cover.

    • Thank you, Brittany:). I am always surprised how often covers seem to miss the genre conventions, given how vital it is to get those right for successful marketing.

  3. OH I LOVE THIS BOOK! Such a great sequel from Dark Lord of Derkholm. While I don’t think that second entry has a horror vibe, I agree it’s not as kid-friendly as the others; that reminds me of those “adult-friendly” covers done when Harry Potter exploded. Adults don’t want to be seen with a kid on their book’s cover, but it’s fine to have a train there!
    That said, I’ve a soft spot for the first cover (because I own it!) but that 4th one is really inviting for a young reader. x

    • It is SUCH a fabulous book! I don’t think I love it more than the Chrestomanci series, which I love, love LOVE – but yes… both the first and fourth covers are really special, aren’t they?

      • They are! and what I love is you can feel Jones’ commentary about education in the text without it getting all preachy and in your face about it. GAh, I need to get Blondie reading these, but there’s no computer game tied to them, so she’ll automatically not be interested. (shakes angry fist at Spirit Animal series)

  4. Love the first cover best. The second one would go better with the first book of the duo (Dark Lord of Derkholm) which was pretty grim.
    The fourth one is more kiddy looking for sure but who’s the blonde? Both Claudia and Olga are dark haired and neither of the guys look like Felim to me.

    • Yes! And having listened to the book again last summer, I completely agree with your opinion regarding the first book – Dark Lord of Derkholm. It IS grim in places – and certainly not suitable for children, given some of the subject matter…

      It is jarring sometimes to see covers featuring the protagonist when they don’t fit your mental picture of them, isn’t it?

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