Thursday, February 3, 2011

Harry Potter and the Rathead Hat – Judging a Book by the Cover

Building on Tim Power’s post about book covers and HARRIET THE SPY ( ), I decided to do a post of my own because I’m very excited about the cover of my next book, WOLF STORM. What a great job it would be to design covers! I have to admit I’m guilty of judging a book by its cover when I’m browsing in a bookstore. Because I'm so fascinated by covers, I’m been doing school talks on this topic – trying to convince middle graders they shouldn’t do what I do. There is an incredible website, Teachervision, I’ve used as a resource, one that has put together many of the Harry Potter covers from countries around the world as part of a lesson plan. I was amazed to see how different the same book is portrayed in other countries. The link to the site is here:, but I wanted to post some of the more interesting covers of the first Harry Potter book, HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE.

Here’s the one familiar to U.S. readers:

Here’s the original British cover:

When I ask the students if they would have picked up the book without knowing what it was about, just by looking at the British cover, the overwhelming majority say no. I find it interesting that there is no real indication from the cover that there is anything about magic in the book.
This one from Italy is, shall we say, unusual:

I don’t know why Harry is wearing a rathead hat, nor why there is a giant rat wearing a bandana lounging next to him.

Students listening to my talks are largely not fans of the French cover either:

My question- Why does Hermione have her eyes closes on this cover?

Of all the covers I show students, the German one comes in second in popularity:
I would have loved to have been in on the cover meetings in all these countries to hear the reasoning behind why they chose what they did!
After doing these talks, I’m trying to be a bit better about my own book choices. Now that I know how much authors worry about their covers, I’ve vowed to give books a second look, even if the cover doesn’t appeal to me. I can say I am completely in love with my new cover and I’m thinking I need to send a big box of chocolates to the artist:

Sometimes filming a movie can go very wrong….and turn all too real.


WOLF STORM – Coming 9/01/2011 from HarperCollins


  1. Dee, I love your cover! I can't believe all the different HP covers there are! Some would make me NOT buy the book!

  2. Your cover rocks- it's absolutely full of foreboding elements! The Harry Potter rat hat is a little disturbing and I'm trying to find a context for it within the story...nope. The other one might be Scabbers, but I'm just not sure :)

  3. Thanks, Amy!. I nearly fell off my chair when I saw it for the first time. It really captures the essence of the book. And I agree about the HP covers.

  4. Jess, I thought of Scabbers too, but I just don't know why that rat is so big. Kids just giggle when they see it

  5. Awesome cover for WOLF STORM, Dee! It really sets the stage for action and suspense. :)

  6. HA! That rat one is a mystery. I'm looking forward to checking out the link and congrats on a great cover!

  7. Love the cover AND the tagline! Will def have to add this to my reading list!!

  8. Dee what a wonderful cover it certainly pops out and grabs your attention. Going to check out all the different Harry Potter covers thanks for the link

  9. Thanks all!

  10. Dee, I know I told you already, but I'll say it again! LOVE THIS COVER! I love the silhouette of the guy's long coat in the wind. That looks very "cool"! I really believe a cover alone, can sell a book and this is one of those covers!

    Congrats, girl! :)

  11. Dee, I'd pick up Wolf Storm just going by the cover.

    Of course, I don't have to just go by the cover. But if I did....

  12. Love the Wolf Storm cover -- and can't wait for the book!

  13. Great blog post! And such interesting covers. It reminds me of how important wine labels are to my industry, and how one that goes well in Europe is not necessarily one that does well in the US. We do respond culturally it seems.

    Love Wolf Storm cover! Send chocolates to the designer!


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!