A few days ago I posted a comment about the white girl pictured on the jacket of Aussie author Justine Larbalestier's YA book about a black girl, and I was certainly not alone. Bloggers, along with the author herself, wondered openly about the strange choice of a white girl with long, straight hair for a novel about a black American girl with "nappy" hair.
Karen Springen in Publishers Weekly writes that the blogosphere has power. Pressured by online commentary, the powers that be at Bloomsbury Children's Books have made a decision to change the controversial cover.
"We regret that our original creative direction for Liar-which was intended to symbolically reflect the narrator's complex psychological makeup-has been interpreted by some as a calculated decision to mask the character's ethnicity," ran Bloomsbury's official statement. Accordingly, they are going to rejacket the book in time for its publication in October.
So what will the jacket feature? My bet is that it will be text only, like the Australian Allen & Unwin edition. It would be great to see a photo of a black girl, but I suspect the sales department will balk.
After all, Tony Hillerman's mystery novels, where the detectives were native Navajo policemen, were hugely popular, but not a single volume in my complete collection has a picture of a Navajo man on the cover. Instead, there are stylized figures vaguely reminiscent of tribal art.
And I can't help wondering, too, how the Allen & Unwin editions of my Wiki Coffin books would have sold if they had been brave enough to feature a Maori on the jacket ....