Some books are so good that it would be miraculous if any cover did them justice. Lloyd Alexander's The Cat Who Wished to be a Man is just such a book.
Now don’t get me wrong; many of the elements in this cover are good. There’s a cat that matches the description of Lionel (orange fur, green eyes), there’s the MacGuffin wishbone and the sack he keeps it in around his neck. He’s wearing a vaguely Renaissancey hat that places the approximate time period in which the story takes place. And behind him is the bridge and the village where the story takes place. All good, right? To be honest I don’t have much of an issue with this one, except now that I have cats (one of them an orange one, in fact) this cat’s expression is just…strange. Cats can smile, sure, but not like…that.
Okay, okay, I admit this scene is from the book. It’s the bridge scene, which is one of the best and most hilarious where Lionel uses his kitty strength in his human body to humiliate the evil bridge troll…er, I mean, tollbooth guy. But face it: Lionel looks pretty ridiculous. He doesn’t look as he’s described in the book, with the orangey hair and green eyes and feline grace. Actually, this cover makes it look like Lionel is riding in Wonder Woman’s invisible plane. What makes this cover the definitive worst, however, is the font. I mean, really?! I don’t remember what that font is called, but all I know is that book titles should avoid it like the plague unless they WANT to be judged by their covers.
The copy I own personally is this:
Next on the docket is the second most common cover:
Again, not too much wrong with this one. A lot of Alexander’s book covers have a similar layout, with a lot going on. I don’t have a problem with these sorts of covers because it gives you something to inspect in between chapters. Shut the book for a breather, stare at the cover trying to glean clues about what’s going to happen. That’s my motto. But Stephanus’ outfit is…well, it’s Mickey Mouse, isn’t it?
Last, and probably the oldest and worst (which isn’t necessarily always the case, but it sure is today):