Whales on Stilts Cover Mystery SOLVED!!!

Folks, I hate to brag, but I am the Encyclopedia Brown of Kidlit Covers. I’m spotting clues like the Blackhand Gang and doing it on the double like the Bloodhound Gang! First The Neddiad, now Whales on Stilts!

Admittedly, all I did was email the artist who was kind enough to reply, but I’d like to think I did it with a little Jupiter Jones style. (Also numerous googling failed to turn up the artist’s Website, so I tried the classic type in what you want and put “.com” after it. It worked!)

Okay, here’s the mystery in case you need a recap. On the cover of Whales on Stilts, the heroine has a toothbrush. Not only is there no known reason for the toothbrush, but an early version of the cover reveals… no brush!

brushnobrush.jpg

Here’s the lowdown from seriously talented cover artist Eric Bowman:

“The toothbrush was suggested by the art director to add more nonsense to the scene because they also thought the girl on the left looked too serious. Probably 8 out of 10 covers I paint go thru changes like this. I’ve never read the book myself, so I don’t even know if there’s any reference to a toothbrush anyway!”

Case closed! Who’s next?

Here’s a possibility. “Fox and His Friends” by Edward Marshall, illustrated by kidlit god James Marshall.

Why no Carmen the Frog/Toad on the cover? Why do we have Betty the Croc instead? In the grand scheme of things I’d say that Carmen is a much closer friend of Fox’s than Betty. But she’s relegated to the back cover.

I realize there have been some Swayze related lawsuits recently, but I have to say: “Nobody puts Carmen in a corner (of the back cover.)”

3 Responses

  1. Nice work, ole chap! Interesting that he never read the book.

  2. I’m not okay with the fact that the cover artist has never even read the book… I have no idea how many book covers the guy illustrates every year or how long it takes to finish a painting, but could he not skim the script or something? Is it normal for cover artists not to read the books they’re illustrating?

  3. Steve – nice to see a comment from such a distinguished popculturologist here!

    I doubt we should blame the artist. My guess is that he never had a chance to read the book. I think that’s pretty common practice. In fact I think I’ve heard some places strongly resist letting the illustrator read the book. Or it may just be a timing thing.

    For instance, at least one illustrator has already tried to do a cover for our Civil War book — even though it is about to undergo major revisions, including the introduction of a wholly new character.

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