Bébé Day by Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman has garnered a lot of attention, much like its predecessor, Bringing Up Bébé. So how to cover a book that you know will get a lot of looks? Here's Pamela to tell the story:
"Bébé Day by Day is the offspring (the bébé, if you will) of my previous book,
Bringing Up Bébé (right). The former is a journalistic memoir which describes how I stumbled upon French parenting, and then tried to apply some of its principles. In Bébé Day by Day, I tried to distill the 100 smartest and sanest principles I’ve learned from the French, along with drawings and recipes.
"For the cover of Bébé Day by Day we needed to show that the two books are related, while also making clear how they’re different. So from the start we decided to commission the French illustrator Margaux Motin, who did the cover drawing for Bringing Up Bébé, to draw the cover of the new book too, along with the interior drawings. Among the many reasons Margaux is fabulous is that the women she draws are all long-legged and chic (like she is in real life), and they all wear aspirational shoes.
"My input was on the drawing. I had already worked closely with Margaux to come up with the concepts for the book’s interior drawings. Margaux lives in France, and isn’t very comfortable in English, so via email I became the liaison between her and The Penguin Press editors and art department, about the cover art. I had a look online at some of Margaux’s drawings, and was inspired by one in which a mother and daughter are standing side by side, holding hands. It looks as if they might be waiting for a bus, in winter (they’re wearing hats and scarves). The joke of the drawing is that they’re dressed identically. In a caption, the mother says, essentially, 'what are you looking at?'
"For our cover Margaux did a new version of this idea, but set in summer, and with the mother and daughter dressed differently and walking together. Margaux had the inspired idea to have the mom carry a woven shopping basket, peeking out of which are fresh vegetables (a big theme in the book) and the little girl’s stuffed bear. This ended up being a nice evolution from the cover of Bringing Up Bébé, in which the same mom was pushing the little girl in a stroller.
"I instantly loved the simplicity of the cover. It relates to the previous book, but also has its own personality and presence. All told, I think The Penguin Press put together an elegant little book.
"I love the cover, but I also really like what’s underneath it – the actual cardboard cover of the book. It’s a simple sky-blue board with my initials, PD, embossed in glossy red, set slightly off-center. It’s as if it’s my personal diary.
"In a very simple way, the cover sums up some key ideas from the book. The mother and daughter are seizing the pleasure of a sunny summer walk together - not rushing off to toddler math classes. They look like they’re headed home to sauté some leeks (in the book I describe how shopping for food and cooking it together helps kids learn to eat a variety of foods). And while the woman seems to be a very engaged mom, she’s also a sexy, confident woman. The French believe that that you can absolutely be both."
Thanks, Pamela! What I love about these covers, and the books, is that there is an aspirational spirit to them, but not one that feels unattainable. They feel within reach, and that's the skill of the illustrator and author.
What do you guys think of this cover?
Melissa Walker is the author of six Young Adult novels, including the new paperback release, Small Town Sinners (pictured). Her author blog, where Cover Stories originated, is melissacwalker.com. Follow her on Twitter @melissacwalker.
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