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They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, however Harry Potter may be an exception to that rule. I'll admit that I don't tend to geek out over cover art for books in general, but I make an exception for the Harry Potter series, and particularly Mary GrandPre's beautiful artwork. To celebrate the 15th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Scholastic is releasing new covers for the seven books in Rowling's series, the first of which was unveiled today.
Before we get to the new art, just for reference, here's Mary GrandPre's cover for the original Scholastic publication of Rowling's first book in the Harry Potter series.
The artist that's creating the covers for the new editions is Kazu Kibuishi, who's known for his best-selling graphic novel series Amulet. Here's what the first new cover looks like.
We see Harry and Hagrid walking together through Diagon Alley, presumably for Harry's first trip to the magical marketplace to pick up his things for Hogwarts. It's a beautiful illustration, complete with a cobblestone street, hovering owls (including Harry's snowy owl Hedwig!) and villagers dressed in cloaks and hats. Just the sight of the new cover makes me want to read the book all over again. It has been a while.
"The Harry Potter covers by Mary GrandPré are so fantastic and iconic," said Kibuishi. "When I was asked to submit samples, I initially hesitated because I didn't want to see them reinterpreted! However, I felt that if I were to handle the project, I could bring something to it that many other designers and illustrators probably couldn't, and that was that I was also a writer of my own series of middle grade fiction. As an author myself, I tried to answer the question, 'If I were the author of the books - and they were like my own children - how would I want them to be seen years from now?' When illustrating the covers, I tried to think of classic perennial paperback editions of famous novels and how those illustrations tend to feel. In a way, the project became a tribute to both Harry Potter and the literary classics."
It isn't especially difficult to imagine the Harry Potter books with a different cover. As a fan of the series, I've always loved looking at the cover art for the various publications of the novels around the world. GrandPre does the covers for the American editions, but there are many other versions of the novels' covers across the globe. With that in mind, as much as I love GrandPre's artwork, Kibuishi's cover is beautiful. I want it as a poster, and I can't wait to see the other six.
Scholastic says the first of seven new covers will appear on U.S. trade paperback editions coming in September 2013. As for Mary GrandPre's artwork. Rest assured, it's not going anywhere. Her covers will continue to be featured on the U.S. hardcover and digest paperback editions.