Monday, March 16, 2009

Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow

This month the CSFF Blog Tour is touring another YA fantasy book. I share my novels with several families with teens and tweens so I'm not generally against reading these books and talking about them, though I'd prefer more adult-oriented novels for me.

When I opened the package containing Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow, my first response was that it was a cute cover but I didn't remember that the book was geared for children. However, I order the books a couple of months in advance, so I figured I'd just forgotten. I wasn't in the mood for a kids' story so it took a few days for me to open the book and start to read.

Have a good look at this cover. Can you see why I was surprised to discover that the characters are fourteen years old? I held the book up for my husband to see, and asked him what age the cover looked like it would appeal to. He came up with the same number I had: that it looked like it was for eight-year-olds.

Please remember it's been nearly 20 years since we've had an 8yo in the house, so we may not be the best folks to guess at characters' portrayed ages. But my gut instinct was that no 10-14 year old (the target age for books about a 14 year old) would want to be caught reading a book that looked like it was intended for an 8 year old.

I went to the publisher's website and found that they don't publish a lot of novels and wondered if they were simply inexperienced in the way of appealing covers. Then I went to the website for the novels and revised my opinions again! Tomorrow I'll talk more about the website and what it adds to the experience of the books. And what that has to do with the book's cover.

Here's what other bloggers are saying:
Brandon Barr, Keanan Brand, Melissa Carswell, Amy Cruson, CSFF Blog Tour, Stacey Dale, D. G. D. Davidson, Shane Deal, Jeff Draper, April Erwin, Karina Fabian, Marcus Goodyear, Todd Michael Greene, Katie Hart, Ryan Heart, Timothy Hicks, Jason Isbell, Cris Jesse, Jason Joyner, Carol Keen, Mike Lynch, Magma, Rebecca LuElla Miller, Nissa, Wade Ogletree, John W. Otte, Steve Rice, Crista Richey, Chawna Schroeder, James Somers, Rachel Starr Thomson, Steve Trower, Speculative Faith, Fred Warren, Phyllis Wheeler, Jill Williamson


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

The cover was the big reason I called this tweener, not YA. I can see 12-14 year olds reading it, but not 18 year olds. I think the 18 year olds would like the story, but the cover might make them feel self-conscious. And generally a book is aimed at an audience a few years younger than the main character.

I actually posted about the tweener tag today too, because I think the issue is bound to come up.

I guess my over all thinking is, with graphic novels and comic book characters coming to life on the big screen and video games, I think the drawings work for the age they are meant to attract. But we'll have to wait and hear from some parents who have kids at this age, I guess.


Rachel Starr Thomson said...

Like Becky said -- most kids read about characters who are a few years older than they are, so with a protag who's 14, you're probably looking at readers who are 9-12.

I posted quite a bit about the Web site myself today. Looking forward to your thoughts on it!

Mike Lynch said...

Interesting perspective about the cover. When I posted my review, I said I thought Hunter was 12-years old, though his character seemed to be older. The Miller Brothers corrected me and the said Hunter was actually 15. If you look at the front cover, he does seem to be closer to 12, though I have since ammended my review based on the correction.


Keanan Brand said...

I, too, was surprised at the youthfulness of the two characters on the front cover, considering their ages in the story. On the other hand, I work with twelve-year-olds with facial hair, and fifteen-year-olds who still haven't hit their growth spurts yet, so maybe the perceived age of the characters might not be much of a problem to a kid, but I have no clue about book cover choices.

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Keanan, that's why I called this "tweener." There is such a disparity in those 12-16 or so years between the guys who got their growth spurt and those who have yet to. From the pre-occupation with pranks, the math-geek classification, the awkwardness around girls, I saw Hunter as one of the not-yets. I think the cover reflects that.