To keep icicles from dangling from the end of my nose (can you tell that I do NOT like cold), I'm going to do a "Cover Off" of a book that's set, for the most part, in the steamy jungles of the South Pacific during World War II. That ought to warm me up!
Time to take a look at the US and UK covers of Damien Lewis's Smoky the Brave!
As I said in my review of the book, the US cover uses the photo that won Smoky Yank Magazine's Mascot of the Year award. Due to jungle conditions, weather, parasites, and the like, Smoky got at least one bath in Bill Wynne's helmet every day. I think this photo is the perfect cover. It shows just how small Smoky was, her personality shines from her face, and it tells potential readers that the book is set during wartime. Since most people associate war dogs with big German Shepherds and other large breeds, seeing that tiny dog in a soldier's helmet is going to pique curiosity in many people who see it.
On the other hand, the UK cover seems aimed at people who may be put off by any trappings of war, although it looks as though there might be something a bit explosive going on in those palm trees in the background to the right. There's no real scale in the photo either to show Smoky's size.
You've undoubtedly noticed that both covers are rather "talky," and you know that I don't like a lot of words all over the cover of a book. In this instance, I think some explanatory text is helpful. I guess we just have to have the blurbs telling us that Lewis is a best-selling author since so many readers seem not to want to pick up a book unless it's a "winner." (But I do wish those two blurbs would disappear.) The descriptive text on the US cover lets the potential reader know exactly what's going on. This is a book about a dog who became a mascot and friend to a group of soldiers during World War II. The cover wants us to find out how on earth a tiny dog like that found itself in such a situation.
You get none of that from the UK cover. "The World's Smallest Dog With the Biggest Heart" is so... generic, and "Smoky" looks as though she's ready to stop playing fetch and come inside now, please. The blandness of the UK cover makes me wonder if they were not allowed to use Yank Magazine's photo of the actual dog.
I think you can tell by now that I think the US cover is much superior this time around. How about you? Which cover do you prefer? US? UK? Neither one? Inquiring minds would love to know!