Cover Reveal: A is for Bee by Ellen Heck
Let’s do something a little different today.
By now the term “cover reveal” shouldn’t strike you as particularly different or interesting. You’ve seen them before. Generally speaking a blog of some sort will display an upcoming cover or book jacket of a work and you are expected to ooh and aah over it. If you were anticipating this book then, yes, that makes a certain amount of sense. But what if the book is wholly unknown to you? What if you’re completely unfamiliar with that author/artist? What then? Why should you care?
Today’s book provides an answer to that very question. First off, today I am releasing the cover of an alphabet book. Pretty standard stuff, generally. You needn’t be in the English-speaking world long before you understand how they work. Usually “X” is for “Xylophone” or, if it’s an animal book “X-Ray Fish”. If there’s a “Z” then it’ll be for “Zebra”. It’s rote and predictable but not very exciting.
In the Author’s Note of “A is for Bee”, artist Ellen Heck addresses this very issue. Essentially, she’s created an alphabet book where the animals are presented with the letters that apply to them best in other languages. She writes:
If you missed it, this is the gist of A is for Bee. Ellen Heck has redefined the very notion of an abecedarian text. So, for the title itself . . .
Do you see what she’s doing? She’s showing, all at once, that something as essential as “B is for Bee” isn’t the case in other languages. In other nations. And all at once, you come to understand how very fluid language really is.
Now step back a second and revel in this art. It’s scratchboard, yes, but also hand lettered and digitally colored. A marvelous combination for a marvelous book.
Normally when I present a cover, I like to include an interview. In this case, I’m just leaving you with two other things. The first is a description of this book as it was told to me by Editorial and Marketing Assistant Irene Vázquez. As they put it:
“It’s incredibly hard to make an Alphabet book so fresh and eye-catching that it stands apart. Ellen Heck’s concept is both simple and radical. The word for Bee might start with a B in English, but in many, many languages, it starts with A: Anu in Igbo, Ari in Turkish, Abelha in Portuguese. B is for Monkey. At least it is in Balinese, Lithuanian, Hindi, and Hausa. This book incorporates words from languages and Nations Indigenous to North America as well as those abroad.
All the prints in the book are absolutely stunning. And all the languages in the book received a thorough fact check from fluent speakers of each of the 70 languages represented.”
I just thought that was a much better description than anything I could find on Baker & Taylor.
Finally, I give you the cover itself. A cover of what may well be one of my favorite books of 2022 already. A book that presents an understanding far beyond the usual ABC crowd. A beautiful title that any library/bookstore/person would be honored to present:
Now here’s a treat. Would you like to hear the backstory behind the book AND see how the art was created? Then check out his marvelous video with Ellen Heck:
Thank you to Irene and the folks at Levine Querido for this cover reveal. A is for Bee: An Alphabet Book in Translation is available everywhere April 12th. Reserve your copy today.
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
SLJ Blog Network