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Jan. 11, 2013 at 3:01pm A Short Story in Teen Book Covers

It's no secret that teen books over the past several years have become more popular with older (and younger) readers.  And as the popularity has grown, the books themselves have gotten longer, become series, and gotten some serious cover makeovers. 

Take the classic Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey by Margaret Peterson Haddix.  Like the other girls in her class, Tish Bonner at first resents having to keep a journal for English class - even though Mrs. Dunphrey has told them she will not read any entry marked "Do not read this". But Tish finds solace in writing about those problems she can't discuss - such as the fact that her mother has abandoned Tish and her little brother, and she doesn't know how to support them with the wages from her part-time job.  This book came out in 1996 and it had this enticing cover:

The mustard yellow really makes you want to pick it up, right?  Well, this was sort of the norm for teen books in the 90s.  A year later, 1997, the paperback version was released with new cover art.

Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey

To me, this is a big improvement, even though the weird stylization of the photo makes it look somewhat dated.  But at least she's not sporting the 90s hair and hoops.  I think teens were more likely to pick this book up as time went along.  In 2004, the cover was updated again.

Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey

We've seen a lot of book covers in the past few years that are just partial faces.  It's a trend that's led to many displays of just books with eyes on the cover!  This is definitely a much more intense cover.  And then this past year, a new cover was released.

Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey

Pretty gritty, huh?  And so far removed from our mustard yellow cover!  I'm curious to see if this cover moves more than the 2004 edition - which is what we still have here.  I also like that the tag line on the cover has changed - in 2012 the secrets are too big to share, rather than hurting too much.  I do think that this darker cover will draw older readers over the 2004 edition.

Okay, so why am I going on about book covers?  Well, partly because it fascinates me - the authors have very little say in what goes on the front of their books.  And partly because the trends in covers are so strange.  Sometimes I can't tell if I'm looking at a fashion magazine instead of the latest dystopian novel.  And it's with that thought that I want to send you to Tracey Neithercott's blog, where she has written a short story told with teen book covers.  It is hilarious, awesome, and perfectly sums up the trends of teen books.

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