Friday Faceoff – Every great story seems to begin with a snake… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoffserpentinecovers


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 serpentine images. I’ve selected The Reptile Room – Book 2 of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snickett.

Scholastic, September 1999

This edition was produced by Scholastic in September 1999, and is the default cover design for this book. While I like the artwork, as you’ll know if you visit this meme regularly, I have an unreasonable dislike of textboxes. So this cover, where the artwork is squashed into a small box in the middle, bordered by a bleh-beige colour hasn’t endeared itself to me. Given how quirky this series is, that ultra-boring title font doesn’t do it justice, either. In fact, it seems to me that this cover is a study in how to transform a funny, original book into something that looks dutifully boring.

Egmont Books, May 2003

Published in May 2003 by Egmont Books, this is altogether more successful. The intention to make this cover look like one of those old-fashioned photo albums is far clearer in this iteration of the cover. The black border, contrasting with the bright green of the spine, with the red cord is both attractive and eye-catching. The styling of the font also gives a strong hint that this book is humorous, as well as an action adventure tale. I also think the choice of image, focusing on the interaction of the snake and the Baudelaire baby is far more effective. This one is definitely a contender…

HarperCollins, May 2007

This edition, published by HarperCollins in May 2007, had done away with the original cover design and opted for more artwork, which I really like. I’m not a fan of either textbox, although I’ll concede that the top one does the job of successfully featuring the author name, which is the selling point of this series, rather than the title. I certainly like this cover more than the top one.

Egmont Books (UK), 2010

This edition, produced by Egmont Books (UK) in 2010, is my favourite. I like the artwork that takes the original image and redesigns it to focus still further on the dramatic interaction between the deadly serpent and Sunny. I also think the treatment of the author font fits well with the overall design and the series and title information looks as if they have been considered as part of the overall look, rather than simply been plonked across the image, as so often seems to happen. Overall, this is the cover that would persuade me to pick this one off the shelves.

German edition, May 2002

This German edition, published by Distribooks in May 2002, is one of the very few covers that hasn’t referenced the original artwork in some form. This one has departed from the Edwardian feel of the original image, so the colours and style are fresher and more vivid. The result is attractive and eye-catching. My only niggle is that I think the dramatic, gothic treatment of the title is at odds with the artwork, but overall I think this is a successful cover. Which is your favourite?

19 responses »

  1. Hi Sarah!! Oh wow!! How could I forget about The Reptile Room! It was such a fun read. I still haven’t finished the whole series. Think I’m on book 5.

    All these are nice, the last one will be a strong contender for me, but I actually like the Harper Collins one the most!

    Happy weekend and take care of yourself.

    Elza Reads

    • It is an enjoyable series – I’m also quite intrigued by his series The Wrong Questions – I might get the first book for Oscar and see if he likes it. He burned through all of this series and absolutely loved it. When they were going through a particularly tough time last year, my grandsons called themselves the Baudelaires… (there are 3 of them – 16,11 and 2).

      I hope you, too, have a lovely weekend and look forward to catching up with you on Sunday:)).

  2. What a great idea. I really enjoyed comparing them. I like them all except the German one. That spring green is too lighthearted for my taste. The original doesn’t seem boring to me. The contrast between the prim and proper and the horror in the illustration befits the ironic tone of the series, I think. Your favorite is the most beautiful. I even like the Harper Collins because it reminds me of the kind of chapter books that I used to devour one after another when I was a kid.

    • Thank you for going through the covers and giving your take on them, Luanne! And you’re absolutely right about the disconnect between the shocking content of the snake attack and the very traditional covers, which was something I omitted to mention:)).

    • Thank you, Maddalena:). Yes, despite the shock of seeing a snake attack a baby, I think the grin on Sunny’s face is reassuring that this is a book with a lot of humour, along with the dark, rather gothic tone of the adventures.

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