On 26th February ‘Nightbird’ will be published by Simon & Schuster in the UK. I’ve been looking forward to this one, as the synopsis of the story reads this:
'Twig lives in Sidwell, where people whisper that fairy tales are real. After all, her town is rumored to hide a monster. And two hundred years ago, a witch placed a curse on Twig’s family that was meant to last forever. But this summer, everything will change when the red moon rises. It’s time to break the spell.
In this enchanting story by beloved author Alice Hoffman, love and friendship are truly magical.’
Alice Hoffman is one of the USA’s most distinguished authors, having written a total of 23 books to date, including one I really want to get a copy of, Here on Earth, which is a modern reworking of some of the themes of Wuthering Heights and thus of course, very close to my heart! Her book Practical Magic was turned into a Warner Brothers Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock film - if you’re old enough you might remember it!
It’s about the Nightbird - a boy who can fly - and the central character Twig who lives in a remote area of town with her mysterious brother and her mother, 'baker of irresistible apple pies'. Described as ‘a spellbinding tale of modern folklore set in the Berkshires, where rumours of a winged beast draw in as much tourism as the town's famed apple orchards’, it sounds right up my street, so I’m looking forward to receiving my copy:
'YOU CAN’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU HEAR, not even in Sidwell, Massachusetts, where every person is said to tell the truth and the apples are so sweet people come from as far as New York City during the apple festival. There are rumors that a mysterious creature lives in our town. Some people insist it’s a bird bigger than an eagle; others say it’s a dragon, or an over-sized bat that resembles a person. Certainly this being, human or animal or something in between, exists nowhere else in this world. Children whisper that we have a monster in our midst, half man, half myth, and that fairy tales are real in Berskhire County…'
The artwork for this is one of those which was completed and approved then altered afterwards, so the one which went to press is different from the artwork which was approved. It happens more than you might think with covers, and most of the time, I’m a bit disappointed with the result as it usually means something’s been removed! In this case, the silhouette of Twig on her garden swing has been taken out and my dramatic dawn/dusk sky replaced with a night-time one; in addition, the hand-drawn author logo’s been replaced with a font (“if I had a quid for every time…”)
Nevertheless, covers are, as you will know by now if you’re been reading my blog for any length of time, subject to a bewildering variety of pressures from editors, sales teams, book sellers, supermarkets and other influencers, making the art director's job a tricky one, and I think this one has managed to retain its sense of mystery and dawn anticipation. This one was commissioned by my long-term client Jennifer at Simon and Schuster.
You can see the printed version online, or in the shops on 26th, but shown here is the full version, which I was very pleased with, together with the developmental sketches that took it to its conclusion.