Saturday, May 14, 2016

Shelf Candy Saturday No. 177: Boy 21, by Matthew Quick

Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!

This is my weekly feature
showcasing beautiful covers!
It also provides information, 
if available, on their 
very talented creators!

Here's my choice for this week!

Boy 21 
 Matthew Quick
Hardcover, 250 pages
 Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
March 5, 2012
(first published January 1, 2012)
Contemporary Fiction, Sports,
Romance, Young Adult Fiction

My Thoughts About This Cover

Immensely fascinating -- that's how I would describe this cover! The combination of a photograph with a line drawing superimposed on it definitely creates a stunning impact! I'm not sure if this sort of thing has been done before or not. All I  know is that, in this particular cover, it certainly works! This is a truly BRILLIANT concept!!

One of the things that I believe makes this cover rock is the reversal of tone values. One might expect the line drawing to be in  black, with a white background. I'm so very glad that the artist and designer decided to think outside the box! I have always preferred white, or light colors, on dark backgrounds, and this blog is proof of that. Black-on-white is just TOO boring! And I think it would be especially so for a book cover. 

I love how the top of the boy's head just blends off into the cosmos, and the rocket shooting off into this very same cosmos is perfectly aligned with the boy's nose and mouth. 

I also love "the doodly feel" of this cover. It reminds me of all those times I whiled away the looong hours doodling in boring classes during my high school years. (Not so much during college, though; those classes were MUCH more interesting!)  

This absolutely AWESOME cover was created by Josh Cochran, who did the cover art, and Neil Swaab, who did the cover design. 

Cochran is an illustrator based in Brooklyn. He grew up in Taiwan and California. In 2013, he received a Grammy nomination for Best Limited Edition Packaging, for his work on Ben Kweller's "Go Fly A Kite". Among his many clients are American Express, AOL, Glamour, GQ. Little Brown & Co., Penguin Books, and Simon & Schuster. He has also created fine art, and has participated in many exhibitions. He graduated with honors from the Art Center College of Design, in Pasadena, California,  in 2005. He currently teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and also does art directing for The New York Times Op-Ed page from time to time.

Swaab is a man who wears many hats. He's not only an  illustrator and art director, but a writer, as well.  He lives in Astoria, NY, and works in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Among the several organizations that have recognized his work are: The Society of Illustrators, Print Magazine, Communication Arts, American Illustrators, and others. He currently teaches in the Illustration Department at Parsons the New School for Design.


What do you think of this 
week's cover?
Please leave a comment
and let me know!


  1. I agree this is very distinctive and original.

    In addition to your points one might expect that the line drawing would clash unpleasantly with the background. It does not.

    I get the impression of playfulness imposed on top of seriousness. Perhaps this is something that many people can relate to from their 21st year.

    1. Hey, brian!

      You're so right that the line drawing doesn't clash with the background at all! Actually, it does the opposite -- it complements the background beautifully. In fact, I can't imagine the cover without either the line drawing or the photo of the young boy.

      I like what you say about "playfulness being imposed on top of seriousness". Yes, many people can relate to this, from when they were 21 themselves. However, the number "21" actually refers to a number on a basketball jersey. This story is about two boys who both have that number on their basketball teams. One of the boys has moved into the first boy's neighborhood, after a family tragedy. He is befriended by this boy, who also wears the number 21. But that was a great guess, though! I, too, thought the number referred to the age of the boy on the cover. Both boys are seniors in high school, so they're around 18.

      Thanks for the great comment!! :)


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