Covers of color from recent YA fantasy

My happy post about the cover of Magic Under Glass being changed was my first reaction...I still am glad that it is being changed, but today I am thinking about what to do next.

My Friend Amy is hosting her annual Buy One Book and Read it. Buying a book that shows a person of color on the cover would be a good thing to do if you want to let publishers know that there is a market for such books. With that in mind, here are some suggestions of recent YA fantasy books* that show characters of color on their covers (from last April, when I started posting lists of new releases). Please note--there are other books about people of color, but these are the ones with covers of color:

Yep, all four of them. They are: Libyrinth, by Pearl North, Guardian of the Darkness (Moribito II), by Nahoko Uehashi, Silver Phoenix, by Cindy Pon, and Radiant Darkness, by Emily Whitman.

Four is pretty pathetic. Please tell me I missed some....And they are all girls. Where are the boys of color? (have they met the fate of poor Sticky, from the Mysterious Benedict Society?)

There is also Tiger Moon, which I didn't include above, because, although one can assume the person on the cover is from a country that has tigers, and is therefore quite probably a person of color, I think silhouettes are too ambiguous to count. I don't have it in front of me to stare at, so if it is not ambiguous, please let me know! (ETA--the original cover showed a girl who clearly is Southeast Asian--thanks Tanita!). Its sequel just came out--from what I've read, the central character of color, who is a prince from Nepal, is invisible, which, if they really mean it, makes him a challenge to show in the cover art.

So there are some suggestions of good books to buy. But even if one doesn't have the money to buy books oneself, one can always ask the library to buy books. Or you can do what I did, and become president of the Friends of the Library so that you can use some of the money you raise to buy books for your library that show people of color on the cover.

Here is an on-line letter from readers to publishers; if you agree with the following, please sign it!
"We appreciate your work and the selection of great books you provide us with.
We do not pick books based on the color of skin on the cover. We love books for their story; so if the main character is Asian, Hispanic, African-American, gay or overweight, and is accurately represented on the cover, fear not. If we love the story, we’ll certainly buy the book!"

And here's something I will do--I will take the time (and it's a lot of time) to put pictures up in my lists of new releases, so as to have a better data set for future reference (I am, after all, an archaeologist, and we like large assemblages of material cultural from which we can draw our conclusions).

*for middle grade fantasy books with kids of color, please see this post.


  1. I am always saddened at the dearth of YA with boys of color. As if book designers think, no one would think of them as attractive, so for heaven's sakes, let's leave them off the cover of the book before they affect sales.


    Tiger Moon actually has a new cover - this is the one I saw first.

    Here's the artist's first rendering of the same cover. She doesn't look all that dark, but she's obviously South Asian, with the sari, henna decoration, etc.

    I did not know there was a sequel!! Oooh.

  2. I guess I don't think of Liar as fantasy...but I haven't read it (been meaning too for ages). These are just the fantasy books I know of, because that's all I know!

  3. Charlotte,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Tarie reviewed Moribito at Color Online and I've heard of the other two. Will look for them this weekend.

  4. Are you including middle grade in this too? Or is it strictly YA?

  5. LOVED loved loved Radiant Darkness, and so did the teen at home.

  6. You are welcome, Susan (I am assuming that's you :) )

    This is just YA, Cindy, because I did that whole post on middle grade a while ago.

    And 3T--I have been meaning to read Radiant Darkness myself for ages--I'm glad to hear good things about it!

  7. I really enjoyed Pon's Silver Phoenix. Though I wondered why there wasn't a guy on the cover, since there were two strong male protagonists

    At the end of my review I talked about the cover and gave a few examples of covers I would've liked better.


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