I love studying the artwork on book covers, and a theme I’ve noticed popping up once in a while is silhouettes: book characters represented by just a shape against the background.
The decision by publishers and/or authors to do this is sometimes very smart because it allows readers of all backgrounds to potentially identify with the book characters, and it often makes the book cover iconic. After all, most of us know who these guys are:
Check out some of my favorite book covers featuring silhouetted characters:
A LONG WALK TO WATER
This cover is just AMAZING!
Anyone who glances at it gets an idea of the book's setting and what the book is about, and would be able to pick it out on a bookshelf from 20 feet away!
MrLemoncellos Library Olympics
MR. LEMONCELLO'S LIBRARY OLYMPICS
The kids' silhouettes really pop against the multicolored background, and even if the word "library" weren't in the title, every reader in the world would recognize the book cart!
PETER NIMBLE AND HIS FANTASTIC EYES
Okay, including this on the list is kind of cheating because you can actually see the details of Peter's clothes, such as the all-important handkerchief he ties over his eyes... but I just love it!
The way the birds frame the top of his head, under the title, is so pretty.
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
THE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE
If you don't count the medal (pretty amazing medal, by the way), there are pretty much only two colors on the entire book cover. I hope the artist is proud of him or herself for saving ink!
The treatment of the plants around Calpurnia is perfect, especially when you start noticing the detailed animals all around.
Serafina and the Splintered Heart_Robert Beatty
SERAFINA AND THE SPLINTERED HEART
All of the Serafina books are beautiful and evoke a sense of whimsical fantasy. Instead of all black, Serafina looks as if she's cut out of parchment, which puts a spin on the silhouette design.
Penderwicks on Gardam Street
THE PENDERWICKS ON GARDAM STREET
Ah, the Penderwicks. The series that brings so much joy to Kidsmomo!
You can already tell this book is a fun romp, given the characters' excited stances on the book cover. Why do the Penderwicks always make me want to go outside for a jog?
The Secret Keepers_Trenton Lee Stewart
THE SECRET KEEPERS
This cover is just brilliant! You can immediately tell there is one main character at the top of the lighthouse. The other characters have a few more details, like the collar, tie, and glasses, but are pictured in grey... Does that mean they could potentially be adversaries?
And of course, I MUST include a Spy School book cover on this list, a series design so iconic many of us could probably draw it from memory.
A good spy would never allow others to remember details about themselves besides a trench coat and hat, right? (The red shoes are a dead giveaway, though).
Do you have a style of book cover that you like a lot? Let me know in the comments below!
Nancy has a really big head, so if she were ever represented in silhouette, her head would look like… a watermelon.
Okay, that’s probably too harsh. She’d be a cantaloupe.
More about Nancy »