We’ve had many exciting developments on Team Rivers lately, including our fantastic new cover for Ricochet River.


It comes to us courtesy of Leigh Thomas, current head of Ooligan’s design department, and we couldn’t be happier with it. In fact, the moment I saw Leigh’s original concept for this cover, I was sold. It’s totally in line with current YA cover trends (Did you read this recent post? Can’t you just see our cover sitting on a shelf next to those books?); it honors the imagery of Ooligan’s 2005 edition; and it subtly references Ricochet River’s history in local schools (the water looks like blue-lined notebook paper—once you see it, you can’t unsee it). However, as perfect as I thought the original design was, we still had to go through several revisions to reach our final product. A book cover must serve many masters—through images or emotion, it needs to tell you something true about the book inside, catch your eye on a shelf or table, and convey important information, such as title or author.

Ooligan’s 2005 cover.
Leigh’s first draft.

The first thing to change on our cover was the boat. The original design featured a canoe. As you may recall, Wade’s rowboat plays an important role in Ricochet River. Canoes, though? Not so much. But that’s what comes of having an unclear design brief. Back to the drawing board.

One of the perks of working on design in the digital age is the ability to blend handcrafted images with digital. It can also be a bit of a hazard. Not pictured here is the evolution of our rowboat. The problem we kept running into was that Leigh would draw what looked like a perfect (but still obviously hand-drawn) boat on paper, and then when we shrank it down to replicate on the cover, it would look too perfect, almost like clip art. Be less good at drawing, Leigh! If you ever find yourself facing a similar problem, the key is to simplify, simplify, simplify. While we miss some of the detail, the overall effect on the cover is positive.

As you can see, our happy little trees also underwent a remodel, and some elements got shifted around to make room for the names of our illustrious contributors. The design process is always a lesson in refinement, and we were lucky to be working with a designer who is not only talented but patient to boot. Now we present our new cover to you knowing every element is just right.

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