Sunday, January 06, 2019

I Have Damien Lewis Covered!

You know Mother Nature is in a serious snit when you wake up in the morning here in Phoenix and it's colder than it is in Anchorage, Alaska. We've had below freezing temperatures and even snow in parts of the valley for the past week, and I'm more than ready to return to the balmy temperatures we normally have at this time of year. One thing's certain: this weather makes me appreciate summer even more than I usually do!

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!


  1. Love dogs, hate war. So the cover should show the dog is in the midst of a war. So I'd agree on the U.S. cover. Otherwise, it just looks like a shaggy little dog story.

    I wonder how this poor dog survived during that horrible war. But not enough to read about the war. Too much.

    So I'll go upstairs and pet the shaggy puppy up there whose only struggle is for more petting.

    1. She was an extraordinary creature, Kathy. Give that shaggy puppy some petting from Arizona, would you?

  2. People always think of Arizona as a hot place, but it isn't always, is it, Cathy? I things warm up a bit soon for you. As for the cover? I'm with you on the US cover. It really perfectly depicts the story.

    1. It's supposed to be back up in the 70s where it belongs for the next three days. I hope it holds!

  3. Yes, will pet Argo for his Arizona fan. He is so cute, a Wheaten terrier shaggy puppy.

    And another puppy in the building, too, who wants petting.

    And a sedate Boston terrier above me who makes not a peep and politely asks for petting.

    1. Wheaten terriers are so cute!

      Growing up, my cousin Stan had a Boston terrier named Snooks. My Uncle Glenn didn't like Snooks much because every time Stan did something he wasn't supposed to do, Snooks wouldn't let Uncle Glenn give Stan a whuppin'! Snooks was a character and very much a one-person dog.


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