Typical authors don’t get a lot of say in what their covers look like. And frankly, award-winning authors often don’t either. For example, I heard that Richard Peck was less than excited about one of his covers. And that came after the Newbery win for A YEAR DOWN YONDER! The people in marketing had made their decision. But here’s what I thought when I saw the cover for SAVING THE GRIFFIN: If people judge my book by its cover, I’ll be a very lucky woman.
Artist Yoshiko Jaeggi made my griffin both adorable and dangerous. Grifonino had the tawny fur and downy feathers as well as the sharp claws and beak that made those deep scratches in the Wiffle ball. The statue of a dragon with half of its wing broken off looked like it could have very well come from the Prince Orsini’s gardens at Bomarzo. And the villa had the beautiful lines that I’d seen so often in our travels. Uaou! (The Italian version of ‘wow’ with more of the oo sound on either side.)
Ms. Jaeggi also did the sketches for the “spot art” at the beginning of each chapter. I loved the ones at for Chapters 16 and 17. The sketch that started Chapter 19 was properly horrifying. But my favorite sketch has to be the one on the title page. While I’d seen some of the other art during the final edits, I hadn’t seen that picture until the day the book arrived. I’m afraid that my delight was a bit too much for my teenage son. “I’m really happy for you, Mom,” he told me. “But I can’t quite share in your excitement.”
Many writers don’t get to meet the person who illustrates their cover. But Yoshiko is also the illustrator for two of Peachtree’s picture books: MY DADIMA WEARS A SARI and MONSOON AFTERNOON. I had the pleasure of meeting her at the 2009 American Library Association conference in Chicago.