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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Now let us praise famous jacket artists – 2010

Due to the sheer proliferation of book jackets featuring photographs rather than illustrations, I think the time is right to offer a little ode of praise to our brave illustrators who work so hard to give us great illustrated chapter book covers.  In an age when it feels like all the teen covers are dedicated to giving us variations on the same theme, it’s refreshing to consider that some artists do more than just Photoshop a girl’s dress from pink to blue.

That said, sometimes it’s hard to tell who the cover artist is on an individual book.  A lot of galleys and advanced readers copies may refuse to mention the jacket artist’s name, perhaps because they are reserving the right to choose a different cover at any time. As for the artists themselves, they’re not usually all that prompt with their online portfolios.  With that in mind, these are the only artists I could think of off the top of my head that are doing more than one chapter book cover in the year 2010.  If you can think of someone I’ve missed (or can identify another 2010 cover that is by an artist listed here) please let me know and I’ll add them as time permits.

Scott Altmann

Here’s a guy that sneaks up on you.  You don’t notice him for a while and then BLAMMO!  The dude seems to be everywhere.  This year Altmann’s been impressing youngsters with …

The Smoky Corridor by Chris Grabenstein:

The Death Defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine McCaughrean:

The Shadow Hunt by Katherine Langrish:

The Ring of Five by Eoin McNamee:

On the other side of the pond Altmann gets his own fair share of work.  I was pleased as punch, for example, to see that they had reissued Astrid Lindgren’s Ronia the Robber’s Daughter over there this year.

Not that I don’t still love the original Trina Schart Hyman illustrations from over here.

While fellow artist Brandon Dorman does the Fablehaven books in the States, Altmann is doing them in the UK.  He’s also doing the Charlie Bone series over there as well.  All the more interesting that he didn’t do the UK version of The Death Defying Pepper Roux in the first place.

Brandon Dorman

Such a great guy.  Did I mention he’s illustrating my picture book in 2011?  I did didn’t I?  Well, Brandon may well be declared the king of the cover, considering how many he does in a single year.  Look at all those new Goosebumps covers and yup.  That’s Brandon.  Sometimes I feel like half the reillustrated covers (like Nim’s Island and such) are his as well.  I know he’s also done a ton for 2010, but sometimes it’s difficult to determine if he’s the man behind them.  Here’s what we know for sure:

Scumble by Ingrid Law:

Falcon Quinn and the Black Mirror by Jenny Boylan:

The Magical Misadventures of Prunella Bogthistle by Deva Fagan:

I suspect that he’s also the man behind Crunch by Leslie Connor, but I’m probably wrong so I’ll leave it out.  And he definitely did a book where a girl emerges from a fountain, but I’ve forgotten the name.  A little help?

Tristan Elwell

I’ve a soft spot in my heart for Tristan because he used to stop by the Central Children’s Room of NYPL to look at our N.C. Wyeth paintings from time to time.  He does a fair amount of covers, but here are the only ones I spotted for 2010:

Most Wanted by Kate Thompson:

Crispin: The End of Time by Avi:

Waggit Forever by James Howe:

The Extra-Ordinary Princess by Carolyn Q. Ebbitt

The Kingdom Keepers 3: Disney in Shadow by Ridley Pearson (a series that was originally jacketed by David Frankland).

Peter Ferguson

This man is one of my favorite artists but he poses a real pickle.  I can identify two of these new covers.  Can you figure out the rest?

The Sisters Grimm: The Inside Story by Michael Buckley

Enola Holmes: The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye by Nancy Springer







David Frankland

You can always spot a David Frankland cover.  They are some of the most distinctive out there.  The lucky authors whose jackets he graces may be long remembered for his images alone.  He takes silhouettes to an entirely different level.  This year:

The Celestial Globe by Marie Rutkoski:

The Joy of Spooking: Unearthly Asylum by P.J. Bracegirdle:

The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh

The Suburb Beyond the Stars by M.T. Anderson

Ana Juan

I can always spot an Ana Juan.  Even when she’s doing New Yorker covers her style is so rich and distinctive that it’s impossible to miss.  She’s only done two this year, but whatta two:

The Firefly Letters by Margarita Engle

Tortilla Summer by Jennifer Cervantes

Jake Parker

Still a relative newbie, I’m going to count Mr. Parker’s graphic novel as one of his two books.  If only because I love his range:

Missile Mouse by Jake Parker

Fish by Gregory Mone

Dan Santat

Ack!  How could I almost forget Dan Santat?  Aside from being one of the funniest, cleverest illustrators out there, he has a bevy of fine covers to chose from.  These include . . .

Bobby the Brave (Sometimes) by Lisa Yee

Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies by Andrea Beaty

The Adventures of Nanny Piggins by R.A. Spratt

Jillian Tamaki

One of the finest cover artists out there.  And distinctive?  You have no idea.

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus

Half-World by Hiromi Goto

Finally, I just want to pay tribute to three artists that I’m pretty sure have only a single jacket apiece this year, but are so great that I had to mention them.

Matt Phelan

Because if we like anyone in this business, it’s Matt Phelan.  Just a stand up guy.

Spilling Ink by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter:

Joshua Middleton

Thresholds by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

John Rocco

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Very cool. I have so much admiration for cover artists who still use traditional media. (In fact, it’s what I kind of thought I’d be doing with my life! Funny how that happens, or doesn’t.)

  2. Beautiful. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
    Both my books are coming out in paperback next Spring – with photographic covers. I’m kind of “meh” about both of them – they’re nice, but they’re nothing like the illustrated versions. Hopefully someday I will rate some lovely work such as this!

  3. So nice to see those lovely illustrated covers amongst so many photographic ones. I for one, really detest the new photographic covers of Shannon Hale’s Books of Bayern (Goose Girl, Enna Burning, etc). The older illustrated covers are so gorgeous (by Alison Jay) and in my opinion, they go much better with the books.

  4. Wow, exciting, thanks for sharing, Betsy!

  5. Hey, Betsy. Thanks for including me in the list (I like you too, by the way). Unfortunately, I have to correct you. The publisher decided to replace me for the paperback cover of Lucky Breaks. So that one isn’t mine. The girl on Spilling Ink however is definitely by me.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Whaa! Tis not Matt Phelan on book #2? Well then it’s a pretty good copy, I must say. I shall correct!

  6. Brilliant gathering, as usual. Thanks so much for posting this.

  7. I have been fortunate enough to have Scott Altmann’s art on the covers of my last two Haunted Mysteries. He’s fantastic. And, I know he reads the whole book before creating his covers because he works in tiny details from deep into the text!

  8. I was so glad to read that the new cover art was Matt’s, after all, even if it does feel several steps away from his usual wonderful work. (Nothing against you or your work, new guy/gal, whoever you are.) Then Matt had to go and correct the record. I’m sure somebody somewhere thought they had their reasons, but it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

    Otherwise — it’s great to see these covers. Thanks for the post, and hats off to the art directors who look beyond the stock catalogs!

  9. Great twist on the theme–fabulous to celebrate the artists that don’t get as much recognition as the authors. Thank you!

  10. Alas, I see no John Rocco for all the Rick Riordan book covers he has done. The Red Pyramid came out in May

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      I do love John’s work. Alas, he only had one book out this year. I probably should have included him anyway. And you, sir! I should have had your Lisa Yee book, your R.A. Spratt book, and your Attack of the Cute Fluffy Bunnies books! I’ll add ’em when I get home tonight.

  11. What a feast for the eyes! Gorgeous covers. Thanks for highlighting these talented artists!

    Jennifer Cervantes

  12. Jillian Tamaki says:

    Hey! Thanks for the props!

    Another jacket I did this was for Half World, released in April 2010 from Viking Books.

  13. So nice to see Scott Altman’s covers here – he did such a great job for the Shadow Hunt. These are all wonderful covers, and such a good idea to give the artists the credit they deserve. Thanks!

  14. Nice idea. Thanks for celebrating the illustrators 🙂

  15. I saw some really nice covers.

  16. Betsy, thanks again for the kind words, and for highlighting illustration in an ever increasing sea of photography! This year I’ve also done covers for the paperback of Carolyn Q. Ebbitt’s the Extra-Ordinary Princess, the new reissues of the Indian in the Cupboard series, and the latest of Ridley Pearson’s Kingdom Keepers books.

  17. Don’t forget Peter Ferguson — he’s got a bunch, including the latest Sisters Grimm and Enola Holmes books.

  18. Elizabeth Bird says:

    Tristan, I found most of those covers you mentioned but not the Indian in the Cupboard ones. Send me a link and I’ll add ’em right quick.

  19. Some of these covers are absolutely gorgeous – thank you for posting these.

    I applaud your comments about the variations on themes and increasing and unimaginative use of photography for book cover designs for young adult fiction. You would expect different. Sadly though the same seems to be the case for crime, thriller and horror fiction book covers (think dark alleys, man/woman running away, city skyline/blood red sky).

    Blake Crouch gave me the opportunity to illustrate/design a series of covers for his short thriller and horror stories. Follow the link and you’ll see most of them, and some other work.

  20. Brandon Dorman also did Laura Quimby’s lovely debut, The Carnival of Lost Souls:

  21. Thanks so much for including me and for supporting illustration! To Chris and Katherine- thank YOU for inspiring me to create stronger artwork.I feel very lucky to have been chosen to illustrate your wonderful works.

  22. Hooray for Dan Santat!!!!

  23. I recognize the first unnamed Peter Ferguson cover from Egmont’s upcoming Edison’s Gold by Geoff Watson. Great post!

  24. Thanks for the kind words about book illustrators – it is nice to know some folks can see the advantage of a quality illustration over a photo.

    One of the nice things over the last few years is that the explosion of self publishing has brought a new demand for illustrators. Over half my book cover illustration work now consists of creating book cover artwork for self-publishing authors and small presses. Nice.

    Professional book cover illustrator for HarperCollins, PS Publishing, Pocket Books, ILEX, ISFiC Press, and many other publishers AND self-publishing authors.

  25. i think one of the covers of peter ferguson is The Anybodies.


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