Cover Reveal: My Seventh-Grade Life In Tights by Brooks Benjamin

Hi everyone! Today it’s my absolute pleasure and honour to share with you the exclusive cover reveal for my friend Brooks Benjamin’s forthcoming 2016 middle grade debut, My Seventh-Grade Life In Tights! The design is bright, energetic, and perfectly suited to a story that celebrates the passion and movement of dance. I wouldn’t hesitate to declare it one of the best middle grade covers I’ve ever had the pleasure of viewing and I can’t wait to have an opportunity to read the story contained within its pages. After you’ve spent an hour (or ten) admiring this truly spectacular cover, be sure to continue reading for an exclusive interview with graphic designers JW & Melissa Buchanan, the talented twosome behind this awe-inspiring design, and an opportunity to win a signed advance reader copy of My Seventh-Grade Life In Tights from Brooks himself!

About Brooks Benjamin

In sixth grade, Brooks Benjamin formed a New Kids on the Block tribute dance crew called the New Kidz. He wasn’t that good at dancing back then. But now he’s got a new crew — his wife and their dog. They live in Tennessee, where he teaches reading and writing and occasionally busts out a few dance moves. He’s still not much better at it. His first novel, My Seventh-Grade Life In Tights will be released by Delacorte/Random House in Spring 2016.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads

Title My Seventh-Grade Life In Tights
Author Brooks Benjamin
Pages 289 Pages
Genre Middle Grade, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Publisher Delacorte/Random House
To Be Published 2016
Find It On Goodreads

Live It.
All Dillon wants is to be a real dancer. And if he wins a summer scholarship at Dance-Splosion, he’s on his way. The problem? His dad wants him to play football. And Dillon’s freestyle crew, the Dizzee Freekz, says that dance studios are for sellouts. His friends want Dillon to kill it at the audition — so he can turn around and tell the studio just how wrong their rules and creativity-strangling ways are.

Work It.
At first, Dillon’s willing to go along with his crew’s plan, even convincing one of the snobbiest girls at school to work with him on his technique. But as Dillon’s dancing improves, he wonders: what if studios aren’t the enemy? And what if he actually has a shot at winning the scholarship?

Bring It.
Dillon’s life is about to get crazy…on and off the dance floor.

About JW & Melissa Buchanan

Husband-and-wife team JW & Melissa Buchanan first made a name for themselves by designing and printing silkscreened concert posters, but soon branched out into further fields, designing fancy junk for whoever would pay them money. In addition to their work as illustrators and designers, they continue their fine art pursuits through exhibitions, lectures, and artists’ residencies worldwide, spreading the gospel of silkscreen to anyone inclined to listen. The Little Friends currently live in Los Angeles with two very round cats.

Their awards include honors from the Art Directors’ Club, American Illustration, and Communication Arts. Their work has been featured in books including New Masters of Poster Design [Rockport] and Handmade Nation [Princeton Architectural Press] and has appeared in magazines including Bloomberg BusinessWeek, WIRED, and Sierra.

Designer Links: PortfolioTwitterShop

1. Did you always know you wanted to work in the field of visual arts and design in some capacity?

For both of us, being an artist was our ambition from childhood. As kids, we loved drawing things and fussing over the small details of how things looked – cartoons, cereal boxes, sports logos, billboards. We had no idea that it was called graphic design or that graphic designer was a job you might have as a grown-up.

2. Who are some of your artistic influences? Which artist and/or works do you find particularly inspiring?
When we started out, we were particularly inspired by artists who dabbled in design and designers who dabbled in fine art – the painter (and sometimes illustrator) Geoff McFettridge, the designer (and sometimes printmaker) Milton Glaser, for instance.

3. In addition to this book cover, what other projects have you been working on recently?
We just came back from a visiting artists’ trip to the University of Hartford, where we produced an edition of prints with their students; We’re regular contributors to Sierra Magazine; and, we’re working on promo materials for a Canadian printing company that will look really fancy when it’s finished.

Pictured: Assorted artwork by JW & Melissa Buchanan

4. How did you become involved in book cover design?
We’ve designed many magazine covers, but this is our first ever book jacket design! The publisher was looking through our work on our rep’s website (a rep is like an agent for professional illustrators) and asked us to do it. We said yes right away!

5. Please tell us a little more about the design process for this cover. Were you given a copy of My Seventh-Grade Life In Tights to read beforehand? Was there any aspect of the story that you knew you wanted to include in the final product?
We didn’t get the book beforehand – Instead, we got a short two-page synopsis, like the kind an author submits to a publisher before they write the book. We were able to talk with the publishers about the content of the book when we had questions, but otherwise we were flying blind. We’re excited to finally read it!

6. How much (or how little) input were you given by the publisher and/or the author as to the direction, theme and style of this cover?
There were a few things that the publishers definitely wanted on the cover. They wanted the title to be big, with little dancers amongst the letters representing the different dance styles in the story. They wanted it to feel energetic and busy. They wanted it to be a little bit of a 1990s throwback, but also feel fresh and new. They showed us some illustrations we had done that they’d liked, and a couple of reference images from art history. That gave us a pretty good idea of what they wanted, but there was a lot more to figure out.

7. Was this the first concept that you came up with for the cover? If not, what were some of the other ideas that you toyed with?
We gave them two concepts. The first was the one that made it to the cover, where the cover lettering is surrounded with a crazy, black and white pattern like a Moroccan mosaic floor. The other concept was to fill the spaces around the lettering with energetic doodles.

Pictured: Initial concept sketches

8. What was the biggest challenge you faced while designing this book cover?
When you’re designing something like this, there will always be tiny, little adjustments and changes that have to be made throughout the process. Usually, this is no big deal, but on this project, every tiny change meant redoing that crazy, black and white pattern. It was a lot of work!

9. In your opinion, what are three important elements that help to make a successful or memorable book cover?
Well, first, you must make sure that everything is spelled correctly! It would be nice if the cover made some sly reference to the content of the book, so that the reader appreciates it more after reading; but, of course, that’s not always possible. We tend to prefer covers that consider the spine and the back cover as part of the design, so that it’s fun to see from all angles, to turn around in your hand. But really, the challenge is just to make sure the cover matches the tone of the story inside, which can be tricky.

10. Finally, what are some of your favourite book covers?

Bohemian Modern by Barbara Bestor (Cover by Geoff McFettridge), Epileptic by the cartoonist David B., and any cover designed by Chip Kidd or the cartoonist Seth.

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12 responses to “Cover Reveal: My Seventh-Grade Life In Tights by Brooks Benjamin”

  1. Congratulations, Brooks on such an amazing cover — I love it!!!!

    Oh this is all so exciting — I can’t wait to get my hands on the real thing…signed by you, of course!

    And yay to Jen for hosting another awesome cover reveal!!!

  2. Bridget Hodder says:

    What a fantastic cover! And a great interview, too! Wish 2016 were already here so I could insta-buy this book.

  3. This cover is beyond awesome, and I loved finding out more about the creative process behind it. Can’t wait to read it!

  4. Genetta Adair says:

    Brilliant cover design! So full of life! And great interview, too.

  5. This cover is SOOOO full of fantastic energy!!! Congrats Brooks–can’t wait for your book!!

  6. What an amazing cover! I love how striking it is. I’ve already been intrigued by your book concept, and this cover just makes me want to read it all the more.

  7. Nice Cover. Best of luck with the launch.
    Corabel Shofner recently posted…Rewriting HellMy Profile

  8. Thomas Torre says:

    This cover is EPIC…and goes BEYOND epic proportions! can’t wait to see this on the shelves, and can’t wait to get my hands on it 🙂

  9. Meg Kassel says:

    GREAT cover, Brooks and an interesting interview with the artists. I’m looking forward to reading this!

  10. Melyssa says:

    I couldn’t be more excited for you, Brooks!! Did I mention excited?? Woot!! This cover is so alive. Makes me want to bust out a move or two myself! (-: Can’t wait to read this book and all the other amazing stories you’re bound to write!! xo Mel

  11. Brooks says:

    Thank you all so much! I’m so glad you like the cover and that you’d take time out of your schedule to enter the giveaway. Gives my heart the warm and fuzzies.
    I’m making each of you lifelong honorary members of the Dizzee Freekz.
    <3 <3 <3

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