Happy Friday, friends! We’ve made it through another week and I’m so excited to celebrate with a new, exclusive cover reveal! Today on Pop! Goes The Reader I’ve partnered with author Chris Negron as we share the cover for Chris’ 2020 middle grade debut, Dan Unmasked! Coming to a book store and library near you July 28th 2020, Dan Unmasked is a book that Becky Albertalli has described as “timeless, moving, and filled to the brim with heart” which explores the special friendship and bond between best friends, Dan and Nate. Please read on to learn more about Dan Unmasked, including an exclusive note from the author offering a glimpse into the book’s cover design process and an opportunity for one lucky reader to win an advance reader copy of the novel!
About Chris Negron
Chris Negron grew up outside Buffalo, New York, where he spent a huge chunk of his childhood collecting comic books and loving sports. But it was the hours of playing Dungeons and Dragons in friends’ basements that first gave him the dream of one day writing his own stories. That dream kept him company through college at Yale University and years of programming computers for big companies. Dan Unmasked is his debut novel, and he now lives outside Atlanta with his wife, Mary.
Here’s a confession: I really wanted some silhouetted kids on my cover.
Those of you who read a lot of middle grade might know what I’m talking about – those great, often magical books (usually contemporary, like mine) that show a single kid or group of kids in silhouette, staring into the distance, maybe up at the sky or out at the stars. Because for me that’s what the middle grade genre is all about: books that are filled with wonder and imagination and dreams and friendship and family. And somehow, those shadowy kids in silhouette on their covers always say all those things and more.
So when the design process for the Dan Unmasked cover started and my editor, Elizabeth Lynch at Harper Children’s, asked me to send along some of my favorite covers, the task was easy. I pulled down all those silhouetted covers from the special middle grade shelf in my bookcase, took a group photo, and sent them along, making sure to mention how much I loved them and why. I sat back and waited for my own silhouetted cover to arrive.
Then, one day, an email popped into my Inbox with the subject COVER SKETCH! I held my breath and clicked.
But there were no silhouetted kids, not in that first version. You might think I was disappointed. Not at all. Because there was something else there – something much more important – the most marvelous rendition of my main character, Dan Summers, front and center. Almost, in a way, larger than life, and just as I’d always pictured him. This character I had created and given voice to, whose words I’d heard in my head again and again, was looking right at me. I had to sit down for a moment and just stare back at him, like I was meeting an old friend for the first time.
Then I noticed lots of other elements in the sketch: the comic book panels in the background, the baseball glove on Dan’s hand; even the expression on Dan’s face was exactly right. All of it capturing the very essence of my book. I couldn’t have imagined that cover on my own. At the same time, it couldn’t have been more perfect.
So when I say I love this cover…well, I LOVE this cover. It went through a few more revisions, helped along by the wonderful suggestions of my very artistic and smart agent, Alyssa Jennette, until eventually I received the version you see today. Including the final addition, like the cherry on top of a perfect sundae: the image over Dan’s shoulder of the three kids silhouetted on the top of the hill. That final piece captures not only an important element of the story, but my heart, too.
And even though I would’ve loved this cover with or without them, the fact that the wonderful designer and artist on this project, Chris Kwon and Craig Phillips, found a way to give me some kids in silhouette while still honoring their own ideas, floored me all over again.
“I knew you’d like the kids on the hill,” my editor said when I mentioned them.
She was so right. And I hope you’ll love Dan Unmasked as much as I love those silhouetted kids and this whole cover.
Cover design by Chris Kwon, Cover art by Craig Phillips
Title Dan Unmasked
Author Chris Negron
Intended Target Audience Middle Grade
Publication Date July 28th 2020 by Harper Children’s
Find It On Goodreads
Whether they’re on the baseball field or in Nate’s basement, devouring the newest issue of their favorite comic book, Dan and Nate are always talking. Until they’re not.
After an accident at baseball practice — an accident that Dan is certain he caused — Nate’s stuck in a coma. Usually, Dan can rely on his and Nate’s superpower—the secret language that only they know, a language of raised eyebrows and subtle nose taps.
Now, if Dan ever wants to see Nate tap his nose again, he’s got to figure out a way to wake him up. But for all the time he’s spent reading about the adventures of Captain Nexus, Dan knows he’s no superhero. Heroes have powers — and without Nate, all Dan has is a closet stuffed with comics and a best-friend shaped hole in his heart. There’s no way a regular kid can save the day all on his own. Right?
“Dan Unmasked is a grand slam of a debut: timeless, moving, and filled to the brim with heart. I can’t stop thinking about it.” – Becky Albertalli, bestselling author of Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda
As an extra, exciting bonus, Chris has been kind enough to offer one lucky reader the opportunity to win an advance reader copy of Dan Unmasked! One winner will be chosen at random at the conclusion of the giveaway and the prize will be distributed by Chris when ARCs become available. Please fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter!