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The Lightning Queen-New on Shelves

by abby on November 3, 2015 | Comment

middle grade book designed by Abby Dening
{Title Page with front cover reference}

I’m very proud to be sharing this interior book design with you all. It’s a work of love! THE LIGHTNING QUEEN by Laura Resau was published last week by Scholastic. It’s a beautiful story and I wanted it to have an equally beautiful interior book design.

middle grade fiction book designed by AbbyDora Design
{Part Section Opener}

The story takes place in an area called the Hill of Dust in the remote Mexican mountains. There’s an emphasis on the dry, rural aspect to Teo’s village. I visually wanted to reference this dust on the title page and on these part openers. I used layers of scanned dry media textures, like chalk and crayon, to create the designs. Part of the story is also flash back to a “long, long time ago”, so the interior design also has an aged quality to it with hand-drawn elements.

AbbyDora Design created this chapter opener
{Chapter Opener}

Life is quiet for Teo until Esma, The Lightening Queen, comes to town with a group of gyspsies. The Mistress of Destiny predicts that Esma and Teo will become life long friends against all the odds and dangers. Their story spans across generations and will take the help of Teo’s grandson, Mateo, in the end to fulfill their destiny.

Ooooooo…sounds good, right? Happy reading!

Recovering the Classics

by abby on September 18, 2015 | Comment

{Here’s a sample of some of the redesigned covers}

This news story caught my eye since my Book Illustration course I teach at RIT just finished a project of redesigning YA Covers to give them a fresh modern look. Something must be in the air!

Recovering the Classics is an organization that has revamped the look of 50 classic works of literature. This organization was started because many of the classics in public domain lack well-designed and interesting book covers that reflect the enduring stories they wrap. An idea was born and they opened up this book design challenge to the world of designers and illustrators. The results are GREAT! Plus, all book designs are available for sale as prints, and other products which all support the artists who created them. Win for book lovers and win for artists.

The revamped book covers were first displayed as large poster size covers in the New York City Public library and the interest in them was so immense that Recovering the Classics decided to take the covers on the road as a traveling exhibition. This new campaign and exhibition is called 50×50. They want all 50 book covers to visit all 50 states! If you are interested in hosting the covers, you can find out more information here.

Happy Weekend!

Circus Train: New Picture Book

by abby on March 27, 2015 | Comment

picture book by Jennifer Cole Judd
{Hot off the presses!}

It’s a rainy, blah day here, so I thought I’d shake things up and share with you one of my latest’s picture books that I designed. It’s called CIRCUS TRAIN by Jennifer Cole Judd and illustrated by Melanie Matthews and it’s published by Two Lions, an imprint of Amazon.

illustration from book interior of circus elephants and acrobats

This book is an engaging story filled with colorful artwork and lyrical text about a circus coming to town and all the entertainment it brings. This makes it a wonderful read aloud!

art of clown flyiing through the air from cannon

I wanted to create playful text that has the energy of a circus tent, so at several moments throughout the book key words are styled in decorative type and have color too. Do you feel the excitement? I do!

I hope you will order CIRCUS TRAIN or promote it at your libraries!

How are you adding color to your life?

Stars and Baseball

by abby on March 6, 2015 | Comment

cover of YA book by Wendy Wan-Long Shang
{It got a starred book review!}

In publishing, receiving a starred book review is a biggish deal and one of my latest projects I worked on, THE WAY HOME LOOKS NOW, just received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews, a book review company for both adult and children’s literature.

For this project, I was very excited to be asked by SCHOLASTIC to design the title type for this book jacket. The book has a baseball theme and I wanted the title to reflect this story element. I also wanted to maintain the hand drawn look throughout the jacket in both the illustration and title.

I’m all smiles today.

Happy Friday to you!

Family Treasures: Books Part 2

by abby on April 3, 2014 | Comment

photo of aged hardcover book on handlettering
{a true treasure}

I’m back with another round of family treasures! This weathered brown book had several surprises inside. The content alone was interesting. It is basically an early graphic design “how-to” book on lettering and letter construction.

title page photo
{title page}

photo of interior book pages that show hand lettered alphabet
{alphabets for reference}

I’ve read snippets and it’s so fascinating to see how the terminology has remained the same, but how one manipulates and constructs letterforms has changed drastically with the invention of the computer and design software.

I really didn’t think it strange that Nana would have a lettering book since she is an artist, but then I turned a page and found this:
Lettering Book Surprise

This is a business card of my great-grandfather taped to an inside page. His last name was Dalton and it appears on the lower left corner. I know he was a sign painter and set painter for The Metropolitan Opera in New York City, so just maybe this book was one of his?! I’ll have to ask around in my family to see if any answers can be found. All in all—totally awesome!

Lastly, tucked in a page of the book was this newspaper clipping.

Lettering Book surpise 2
{Rudyard Kipling anyone?}

So Nana or maybe my great-grandfather, saved this printed poem of Rudyard Kipling. It’s a poem he wrote for Armistice Day-a day of remembrance for WWI. Sadly there is not a year date on the clipping. Love that this book is telling a story with its pages and what’s in between them too!

I’ll have another installment of family treasures soon.

Do you have a family treasure you adore?

Family Treasure: Books Part 1

by abby on March 27, 2014 | Comment

photo of older hardcover books on light wood bookshelf
{my new family treasure}

Last weekend, D and I traveled to a small town east of Saratoga Springs to visit with my uncle, aunt, cousins, and my grandmother. My brother and I call her, Nana. Nana is turning 98 in May! She is an amazing lady and is my role model for combining courage, fortitude, warmth and grace.

Our trip was more than just a social visit. This year Nana decided it was time to move in with family. Part of this moving process is finding new homes for many of the items she had in her house and apartments. I was so lucky to be able to receive several family treasures.

The heaviest gift was the bookshelf Nana received herself as a gift for her 16th birthday. It was custom built by her father (my great-grandfather) to especially fit the large art books! Hooray!

photo of old and new art reference books
{The large books perfectly}

The bookshelf is beautiful and fits just right against a wall in our bedroom. The first night it was in our bedroom, I was reading in bed and I noticed that the shelf and the old books have a distinct smell. That smell kept surfacing memories of childhood visits to Nana’s apartment.

The bookshelf also came with a collection of art books (so helpful!) and early twentieth century editions of young adult books. The book designer in me freaked out a little when I discovered what she had in her shelves! I will be sharing some treasures here and then more in future postings too. There is just so much to show! Are you ready?

photo of vintage and weathered hardcover cloth bound books
(a few very special books)

The small red unassuming book at the top of the stack is a 1907 edition of the classic literary work: MOBY DICK. It’s all done with letterpress printing. Check out the title page!

photo of ornate title page design of letterpressed Moby Dick book

Did your jaw just hit the ground? Because mine did. I never saw this book growing up. It must have been stored away from prying little hands. I’m very happy to have it now.

photo of early 1900's edition of Hans Brinker
{Hans Brinker)

I also now have an early edition of HANS BRINKER published by The Goldsmith Publishing Company of Cleveland. I cannot find the publication date, but it’s also a letterpress book, in rough condition, and I would guess it’s in the same era as MOBY DICK. I also love that Nana has signed the title page too. BIG SMILE.

There’s more surprises and treasures to come! Keep an eye out next week.

Think Spring! And just maybe a little warmth will come our way.

Need a laugh?

by abby on January 13, 2014 | Comment

cover of picture book called Grumpy Groundhog
{new picture book!}

I know I need a smile of late and this new picture book I designed for Amazon Children’s Publishing is sure to give you one.

Grumpy Groundhog is about, you guessed it, a grumbly groundhog who won’t get out of bed on Groundhog’s Day. But don’t fear, the towns people all have great ideas on how to change the mood of Mr. Groundhog. The light-hearted rhyming text and whimsical illustrations make this a delightful read aloud book.

Parents and grandparents take note: this is a wonderful book to introduce Groundhog’s Day to pre-schoolers!

What is your favorite read aloud book?

Interior YA Novel Design

by abby on June 3, 2013 | Comment

photo of YA novel covers of Openly Straight and Rebel Spirits

I received 2 young adult books last week in the mail. It was like seeing old friends again. I worked on these Scholastic book projects last fall (yes it takes months and years to publish a book!) For both, Openly Straight and Rebel Spirits I created the interior page designs. This means I choose the text type, the margins, style the chapter opening pages and extracts, the front matter, and figure out the total page count. It’s a lot to juggle and pull together, but I LOVE it. And since I read all the books I design, I can say that are both very enjoyable stories too!

photo of title page of YA novel Openly Straight
{Title page design}

Openly Straight is about a high school age boy, named Rafe, who is gay and he’s been out since eight grade. In his home town of Boulder, CO he is isn’t teased and he talks about tolerance, but he wants to be a regular guy, not the gay guy. He wants that to be a part of his identity, but not the headline.

image of teen novel chapter opener
{Chapter opener design}

So when he transfers to a New England all boys boarding school, he gets a fresh start and he becomes openly straight. But things get complicated when he begins to fall in love with one of his new friends. This is a smart, funny novel dealing with modern issues.

photo of History of Rafe
{Long book extract explaining Rafe’s story before boarding school. To visually make this appear different from the narrative, the type was set in a sans serif typeface}

With this being a current day story, I wanted to keep the overall design fresh, modern, and clean. The emoticons are a great addition to the jacket and the interior. I really do love how the title page spread turned out.

YA novel title page image
{Title page design}

In Rebel Spirits Lori and her parents just moved into a house in Gettysburg, PA. Lori doesn’t know what she thinks about ghosts, but the town is obsessed with them and the history of the civil war. When she meets Nathaniel, a troubled soul who needs her help, she becomes a believer and starts to fall in love too. Nathaniel was a solider, but he wasn’t killed in battle. He was murdered. Lori begins to investigate and unforeseen clues and secrets are revealed.

photo of teen novel interior chapter opener design
{Chapter opening page design}

With the civil war theme and straight-forward narrative, the design is more traditional. I added a running head and a wood type ornament on the chapter openers to add some visual variety to the pages. I have to say too, I REALLY enjoyed reading this book. If you know anyone who likes a good mystery with historical touches, this is the book for them.

It’s always a great joy to see the actual printed book. Since I only see the jacket front and the interior design when I work, it’s fun to see how the entire book is pulled together. On these books found a great surprise, too—embossed covers!

photo of yellow cover with embossed emoticonsphoto of embossed hardcover of Rebel Spirits

Ooooooooo, nice touch, right?!
If you have a book you want designed please contact me. I work with both publishers and self-publishing authors.

Have you read a good book lately?
Feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear about it!

Subway Libraries

by abby on March 11, 2013 | Comment

picture of underground library in subway

Yesterday morning on NPR I heard a report that public transportation riding levels are up. That means more and more people across the country are taking trains, subways, buses, and ferries and have more time to READ!

A group of 3 college students from the Miami Ad School have come up with an innovative concept and app to reach those mass commuters on subways. The project is called Underground Library: A Simple Solution to help New York’s Empty Libraries.

The basic concept is this: Using near field communications (NFC) technology, commuters select the desired book from a list of popular titles listed on subway ads and read its first ten pages. Upon finishing and exiting the subway, the reader will be informed of the closest library location on a map from which they can pick up and read the rest of the book. Want to see this is action? Watch the trailer!

There are still several questions about the technical aspect of pulling this off, but I love the connection between modern reading on ereaders and phones and linking it to lending books from the library (whether you want to borrow the actual book or ebook file). Libraries are still wonderful and relevant resources!

I just used our local library last week. When was the last time YOU visited your local branch?

One Very Cool Book Cover

by abby on January 14, 2013 | Comment

cool book cover
{Image from ImprintMag.com}

Sometimes the the best answer is the simplest. And yes, that’s an actual yellow No. 2 pencil that fits into the cover. Pretty cool huh?!

Joe Shouldice

The book itself is called American Odysseys: Writings by New Americans. It’s an anthology of 22 novelists, poets, and short story authors who immigrated to the US. It’s published by The Vilcek Foundation. The cover design was handled by YesYesYes Design, based in New York City. The art director was Joe Shouldice.

Apparently, YesYesYesDesign had to go through many pencils and hardback cases to get the fit just right. He was thankful the yellow No. pencils aren’t that expensive to buy in bulk!

Are you over thinking a project? Maybe a simple solution will work for you too?