Friday Faceoff – Let’s take our hearts for a walk in the woods… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoffforestcovers

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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 with FORESTS OR JUNGLES. I’ve selected Hatchet – Book 1 in the Brian’s Saga series by Gary Paulsen.

Atheneum Books for Young Readers, April 2000

This offering was produced by Atheneum Books for Young Readers in April 2000, but as it is one of the default covers for this successful book, over the years a number of publishers have used this design. I can see why – the young protagonist is featured on the cover with the thick Canadian wilderness in the background and the hatchet featured as an overlay. The blocky treatment of the artwork ensures that it stays eye-catching even when in thumbnail and the blue title font is still readable. That said, I don’t particularly love it – and it isn’t the cover that induced me to buy the book for my son, when he was a struggling reader and I was trying to encourage him to persevere.

Simon Schuster Books, December 2006

Published in December 2006 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, this is the cover that came to mind when I saw this week’s FF theme. And the one on the cover of the book I bought my son all those years ago, as this is the other default cover. I love the forested landscape with the hatchet superimposed across it. It gives a sense of the scale of poor Brian’s plight in a way I don’t think the other one does. I also prefer the punchy title and author font. What I don’t like is that nasty silver blob that detracts from the overall design. Just look at the two covers without the blob and you can see the entirety of the designs and much better they look. This one is so nearly my favourite.

Simon Pulse, December 2006

This edition, published in December 2006 by Simon Pulse books, has flipped the previous design into night-time mode – and what a difference it makes to the tone and mood of the book. I love it and think it is beautiful – but that’s why this one isn’t getting my vote. This cover sings out paranormal shapeshifter to me – which is completely the wrong genre.

Macmillan Children’s Books, 1996

This edition, published in 1996 by Macmillan Children’s Books, is a stunning cover. The hatchet isn’t being used to chop wood, or build shelters – a desperate Brian is using the hatchet to make fire… I love this one. It’s eye-catching, beautiful and absolutely sums up the struggle for survival. The notch in this blade is apparently designed for a ‘hardcore survivalist hatchet, underlining that this is probably the different between life and death for Brian. This one is my favourite.

Pan Macmillan UK, March 2017

This 30th Anniversary edition, published by Pan Macmillan UK in March 2017, is another fabulous cover. The huge grizzly, with the isolated landscape and the small plane flying against a setting sun is stunningly beautiful. I don’t like to nitpick – though I’m going to anyway – but I don’t recall this book being allll about a grizzly bear called Hatchet. And I think that’s the impression you might come away with, when you see this cover. Or perhaps, because it’s the anniversary edition of a much-loved book, the publishers figured most people buying it would know the basic story. But I don’t think that’s an assumption publishers can afford to make. What do you think?


29 responses »

    • Thank you, Wanda:). Lol… Himself didn’t get any paranormal vibes from this one, either. So perhaps it’s just I’ve been reading too many books with howling wolves who shapeshift into humans at some stage in the story…

  1. I’ve never read this book and honestly just heard of it in the last few years which is crazy because it’s such a beloved book! We share the same favorite. That cover is by far my favorite!

    • It’s a wonderful cover, isn’t it? I’ve got my eye on it – I think Oscar is just a bit young for it at present. But next year, I think he might be ready for it:)).

    • I really love the design – I’m just a bit concerned that it doesn’t necessarily give the right impression regarding the book’s content. It’s amazing how much my attitude towards book covers has changed since I started publishing my own novels, Maddalena!

  2. I love Hatchet- I just finished it with one of my Reading classes, and I love how the kids respond to it- including the ones who “don’t like reading.” 🙂
    I’ve honestly never liked that first cover with the Hatchet over Brian’s hair- I always see it out of the corner of my hair and imagine he’s wearing a goofy hat. I’d much prefer your pick and the last one.

    • I’m delighted to hear that children still respond strongly to it. I knew that the non-readers always particularly loved it, back in the day. But as it’s a goodly while since I taught children, I wasn’t sure it is the case…

      And I know what you mean about the hat – in thumbnail that’s exactly what it looks like:)).

  3. This is one of my son’s favorite books. He has that first cover, which is okay, but I prefer second one. I love the green and the silhouette of the wolf. I also like the one you chose because of its focus on the blade.

  4. I had a rougher version of the first cover on the book I had to read in elementary school, and I agree–I wasn’t really inclined to care from that cover. The last cover does seem to push the bear, and…hmm. I remember a bear, but I remember the weather and the plan being underwater as two more important antagonists, as it were. I suppose they figured the grizzly embodied the wilderness?

    • I do think you’re right – the bear probably is supposed to represent the wilderness. But as this book is aimed at boys of a certain age, I’m not sure that metaphor is all that helpful. The youngsters in my life would certainly grizzle (see what I did there??) if they picked up this book with this cover and there wasn’t a bear majorly featuring in the story.

      • HA! And I do agree. It reminds me of a recent movie trailer we showed the kids–the original HOME ALONE. 🙂 I wanted to see if they were interested in the film (and of course they were), but Bo noticed how much of the trailer had John Candy in it. The comedian’s only in about 5 minutes of the film, but the impression one gets from the trailer is that he dominates half of the film. How strange!

      • And that’s because the movie-makers wanted to appeal to the adults bringing the children – and they knew he would be a draw… That’s what I’m guessing, anyway!

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