Developing a Book Cover for Plank Road Summer

Greetings from the publisher of Crickhollow Books! (That’s me, Philip Martin.) I just wanted to give a shout-out to the Plank Road Summer cover artist, Kathleen Spale.

Plank Road Summer, by Hilda and Emily Demuth

We found Kathleen through the network of the Illinois chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. The SCBWI is an amazing organization for writers and artists, with state chapters, newsletters, and workshops, and many services and programs at the national level for children’s book creators.

When I checked out Kathleen’s website, I saw both the professional skills and the artistic sensibility to interpret a story. She uses the dynamics of light and dark, with lots of moody nuances, perfect for this Plank Road Summer chapter book, a cheery, uplifting tale for young readers . . . but with a few dark secrets moving through it.

The secrets involve the dark history of the Fugitive Slave Law and the legal efforts of slave catchers to chase escaped slaves, even into the states of the north. What a tragedy for young men, women, and children to “follow the dipping gourd” right to the edge of freedom . . . only to be threatened with capture and a return to their terrible condition of slavery. Through the good services of keepers of Underground Railroad way-stations and other good-hearted individuals, practicing a 19th-century civil disobedience, many slaves made it safely to Canada across the Great Lakes.

Anyhow, I loved working with Kathleen on the cover. She offered multiple initial pencil sketches, refined my top choice, did color roughs, then several rounds of the final artwork.

Kudos! Books by new emerging authors like the Demuths – and coming from a small independent press like Crickhollow Books – need all the help they can get! We are thankful for everyone’s interest and support, and are very grateful to get to work with someone like Kathleen Spale.

You can, it turns out, judge a lot about a book by its cover. In this case, the cover promises a wonderful story, well told!

(By the way, check again the historic photo of a hay wagon on a plank road in the previous post on this blog . . . you’ll see the source for part of the cover image!)

Thanks, Kathleen! Let’s do another book together soon!

Categories: Plank Road Summer book | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Developing a Book Cover for Plank Road Summer

  1. Cynthia Bitto

    Our Family has a Plank Road history. My great grandfather, George W. Acklam came to Wisconsin in 1838, and was one of the original toll keepers. See comment on ” about the book” page.

  2. Arlene Kurzawa

    Congratulations to Hilda and Emily Demuth for the beautifully written “Plank Road Summer”, and to Kathleen Spale for the outstanding illustrated cover. The talent Kathleen has started when she was a young girl when she spent a lot of her time at the library. I felt honored to receive a signed copy of the book from my long time friend Kathleen and I am excited to pass the Plank Road Summer on to my granddaughter.
    Thank you,

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