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 being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and this week we are featuring covers depicting someone HOLDING AN OBJECT – and of course what could be better than holding a book? I’ve selected The Book Thief by Markus Zusak…
This edition was produced by Alfred A. Knopf in March 2006 and is the first US hardcover edition. You’re right – it hasn’t got anyone holding anything, but someone is about to knock over the line of dominoes. I don’t much like this cover, which is a shame as it is one of the default covers. The symbol is very generic and rather a cliché, which shortchanges such a remarkable book. Neither do I like the textbox across the top of the cover. It’s not a terrible cover, but it isn’t great, either.
Published in 2007 by Bodley Head, this cover is quite a different proposition. What an arresting image – a girl reading a book while apparently lying in a crypt, or is it an attic? The rich curtains framing that image being the only splash of colour is a stroke of genius, essentially drawing us into the monochrome picture of young Liesel engrossed in her book. I love how her ankles are crossed, showing she is relaxed while lost within the covers of the story. This one is my favourite.
This Romanian edition, published by RAO in February 2014, is another version of Liesel, this time staring straight out at us. She is clearly older in this depiction and improbably pretty, clutching a book to her as if it is her only hope as the world explodes behind her. It’s another powerful image and again, is one of the default images for this best-selling book that, according to Goodreads, runs to 331 editions. I like this one more than most of the other offerings – because although she is older, she is still terribly vulnerable and her hair and clothing is right for the period. Reminding me that hundreds and thousands of youngsters of her age must have been equally helpless and frightened as their world got twisted or swept away as Word War II hammered across their lives. This cover is certainly a contender.
This edition, produced by Definitions (Young Adult) in January 2008, has changed the dynamic. The young Liesel reading has been drawn, with Death looming in the background. This is the cover I very, nearly went for. I love the border of flames apparently licking the paper and the uncluttered look. What finally decided me against choosing this one, is the scale. I think Liesel is too small for the size of the cover – and I know it’s probably to underline her vulnerability, but I do think she could have been made just a bit bigger without losing that feeling.
This French edition, published by Pocket Jeunesse in March 2019, pares the image right back to the basics. Therefore the details of Liesel’s striped dress, her hairband, her hand on her chin as she eats up the words of the book in her hand really stand out against the coffee-coloured flames with the bombers circling overhead. While I think this image has been very effectively crafted, its apparent cosiness makes me uncomfortable. Though I do love the title font, so reminiscent of the 1930s, and I think the design is successful. Which is your favourite?