September 24, 2010

Unfortunate Covers: The Cay

This was the unfortunate cover I wanted to discuss.  Travis, over at 100 Scope Notes does this "unfortunate cover" bit every once in a while.  He says for the cover to truly be unfortunate, the book itself has to be good.  I haven't read The Cay but know all about it and assume it must be mostly good to be around for so long.  A classic is a book that's still in print, as they say.

So to the left here we see what I consider to be a giggle-worthy unfortunate cover.  Phallic and all that.  But in my search for this cover, I found that this book has had a million different covers and not many of them are good!  How can this be?

The Cay stuck in my mind recently because I was discussing with one of the teachers at my school that I was trying to go back and read many of the kid's classic books now that I'm a school librarian.  She mentioned her weird connection to The Cay.  She distinctly remembered seeing the cover in middle school multiple times and picking up the book, thinking about checking it out and always getting something else.  She never read it.  Always meant to, but just never had.  Then, after telling me this story, she had to sit through a boring professional development meeting in the media center and turned to find herself face to face with The Cay.  So she felt this was destiny or something, checked it out and is finally reading it.  This is the cover on the book she checked out, but not the cover she remembers from her youth.
I think she most likely meant this one, based on the James Earl Jones TV Movie.  That's not too bad and was the standard Cay cover for years.

But then there was this goofy border thing going on.  I'm glad we're over the border on every children's book thing.  That was annoying.

And here's a border with a creepy variation. Timothy as psychic friend.  I would not want to read this.

Now the kid is drowning and has an island on his head. Why is Timothy happy about this?  Not appealing!

This isn't too bad.  Looks all serious and man-against-nature-y.  The thunderclouds are a nice touch. I'd read this one.

Again, not too bad.  A little too much pastel for my taste, but not an embarrassment.

But this in in no way appealing to me.  Not terrible, just...meh.

Not like this freaky one!  AHHHHH!  This would have given more kids nightmares than Shel Silverstein on the back of The Giving Tree had it been more widely distributed.


Travis said...

Ha - this is awesome! I remember a few of those covers, but the one where Timothy's face is, I guess, floating in midair is my pick for worst of the bunch. And I'm with you on the border thing. Cover kryptonite. I haven't read The Cay since I was in elementary school (I think we read it as a class), but I remember liking it quite a bit.

Michael Taylor said...

There's a cliche' here that I'm really trying to avoid...

Michael Taylor said...

I get really annoyed by covers that are completely irrelevant to the book. Case in point: Orson Scot Card’s Xenocide. The whole story takes place on a planet that is very rural and the story line is about the humans and the natives trying to understand each other’s culture and rituals. Yet the cover painting is some big space ships hovering around some mile high angular buildings. I can’t think of one single scene in the book that relates to that cover.

Jim Randolph said...




I hear you. I love Dan Simmons' Hyperion books, but the paperback covers are silly.

C.B. James said...

I'd no idea The Cay has had so many bad covers. It really is a shame. It's a wonderful book; you must read it. It's a bit dated at this point, but still packs a punch.

I know we're not supposed to admit this, but kids really do judge books by their covers. The Cay deserves a good one.

Ms. Yingling said...

Theodore Taylor REALLY hated the movie. I made the mistake of asking him about it when I sent him a circulation card, and he had nothing nice to say about it. Those are some bad covers, and I think I have four different ones in my library!

Jim Randolph said...

Ms. Y,
Never saw it and now I'll make sire I don't. I remember talking with Lynn Reid Banks about her books covers. She went off on a serious rant!

The Brain Lair (KB) said...

That used to be a major read for our 6th graders so we have tons of those with unfortunate covers. Students aren't the only ones who judge by covers because I do too!

Now, I'm going to force myself to read it and see if it passes Travis' test.

Nancy said...

This is great! So many bad covers.

Christine said...

I attended my son's Back toSchool Night on Wednesday and his sixth grade English teacher held up a copy with the first cover of the many you included and said his class will be reading it this year. Then she held up an unfortunately covered Tuck Everlasting which they will also be reading.