Kelpies Prize winning author, Annemarie Allan’s latest novel, ‘Charlie’s Promise’, is to be published by Cranachan Books in March. We’re delighted to reveal its striking cover here!
Would you break the rules or break your promise?
On the outskirts of Edinburgh, just before the outbreak of WW2, Charlie finds a starving German boy called Josef hiding in the woods near his home.
Josef can’t speak English and is desperately afraid, especially of anyone in uniform.
Charlie promises to help Josef find his Jewish relatives in the city. It’s a journey that will force them to face their fears, testing their new-found friendship, and Charlie’s promise, to the limit.
We particularly enjoyed hearing both the writer and the designer’s perspective on getting that cover right:
The cover from the writer’s perspective:
It is always an intense experience when an author and designer work together on a book cover. It’s fairly simple for the writer: either you like it or you don’t. All you have to do is explain why. It’s more complex for the designer, who has other issues to consider, such as the impact of the cover at different levels of image resolution, or whether the image and typography will grab the attention of the intended readership.
Both individuals bring their own interpretation of what image best suits the story, but when I saw the shadow boy and the shadow city, I felt Anne got it just right. The combination of the city and the sea foreshadows the children’s journey and there’s even a hint of the industrial nature of the landscape in the smoke rising in the distance. The darkness of the city hints at the challenges the children face in helping a refugee to find his way to safety in a hostile world, an issue that is still with us today, and the shadow boy is totally evocative of the main character, Charlie, with all his doubts and questions.
The whole collaborative process was hugely productive, in large part thanks to Anne’s expertise and her sensitivity to the author’s point of view. The end result is exactly what I hoped it would be – a cover for ‘Charlie’s Promise’ that will make readers want to reach out and pick it off the shelf.
The cover from the designer’s perspective (Anne Glennie):
Initial cover designs included lots of options, from photos of a solitary boy – or ‘Charlie’, to views of Edinburgh, to silhouettes of boys in the countryside. At first, we all preferred the silhouettes – but finding the right image was crucial. Some boys looked too young, some looked too old. Then, a single shadow of a boy seemed just right, against a simple horizon. But it was quite dark for a children’s book and there was no sense of place. A significant part of the story takes place in Edinburgh, so we combined the silhouettes of Charlie and the city, adding a splash of colour – and that’s when we knew we had our cover!
Charlie’s Promise is a novel about a young boy’s courage to extend the hand of friendship to another boy in urgent need of his help.
Highlighting the impact of WW2 on the Jewish community at home and abroad, it explores universal and timeless themes: displacement, school, family and friendship. Although it’s historical fiction, a boy seeking refuge in a foreign country is as relevant now as it was in Charlie’s day.