The folks over at Feiwel and Friends approached me about doing a cover reveal for P. G. Bell's debut middle grade fantasy novel, entitled THE TRAIN TO IMPOSSIBLE PLACES.
I, of course, immediately took this as an invitation to do one of my favorite bookish things! ...namely, judging a book by it's cover.
No matter the bookstore I visit, the library shelf I browse, or the book order flyer my son brings home in his backpack, you can rest assured that my eyes will delight in evaluating the pick-it-up-ness of a book solely based on its cover.
I've got a whole description to share with you, but first let's read a blurb and talk about what we see on this cover, shall we? Kids? I hope you'll join us in making predictions.
In this stunning middle-grade fantasy debut, a clever young girl joins an impossible postal service for a madcap adventure that’s as fun as it is full of heart.
Where to start? Well, there's obviously a train front and center. I think it's safe to guess that this is the train to impossible things mentioned in the title. But it also seems like quite an impossible train, doesn't it?
The conductor appears to be a young girl mentioned in the blurb. But by the looks of her dress she's been rushed from the house to board the train. Her yellow pajamas and grey overcoat suggest that she jumped into this adventure without hesitation. And can you blame her? Just look at this train!
The boiler seems to be a living space complete with walk-out balcony and kitchen window! It has six sets of wheels working to pull it forward and from what we can see, the engine isn't attached to any cars. But we know from the description that this is train serves in a postal service so it wouldn't surprise to find out that it's towing several cars of mail.
The train is being engineered by some sort of purple creature, but it doesn't look like it's ill-willed, so perhaps these two will have some fun camaraderie throughout the story.
Of course we can't leave without saying something about the city hanging like stalactites above the train. Does this city operate under it's own rules of gravity? Have the inhabitants adapted or evolved in some way to be able to live on the roof of a cave? Is the town actually right-side up and we're seeing the train suspended?
One thing is for sure... it's a great cover! So many questions to ask. So many details pulling us from the cover inside the book. (And I definitely can't wait to see a stack of these books on display at a bookstore. I'm totally going to turn one of the piles upside down just to mess with folks until I know more details about this world.)
Speaking of which...
Here's the description provided by the publisher:
Eleven-year-old Suzy Smith knows exactly how the world works. That’s science, and Suzy’s good at science.
But when she wakes in the middle of the night to find a troll building a train through her living room, defying all the laws of space and physics, Suzy’s world is turned upside-down. How is any of this possible? As the trolls explain, it’s “fuzzics,” which is like physics only fuzzier!
Well Suzy has no choice but to sneak on board and wrangle herself a position on the Impossible Postal service, a train that delivers to impossible places—everywhere from ocean-bottom shipwrecks to Trollville to space!
Then, on Suzy’s very first delivery—to the evil Lady Crepuscula of the Obsidian tower—the package itself begs not to be delivered. A talking snow globe claiming to be a prince, Frederick promises that the fate of the entire Union of Impossible Places now rests on Suzy’s shoulders. But protecting Frederick may mean lying to and even endangering her friend and colleague, the Post Master Wilmot. Can Suzy save her friends and the entire Union of Impossible Places—all while upholding her duties as deputy post master?
THE MORE YOU KNOW...
Matt Sharack (aka Sharackula) is the artist behind the cover design. He's an illustrator and concept artist living in Silver Lake, CA.
A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Sharack began his career at Nickelodeon in New York City. Moving to Los Angeles in 2003, he spent time working for DreamWorks and Rovio, and is currently a Production Manager at Sony Pictures Animation. Sharack has worked on such films as: Shrek, Monsters v. Aliens, Puss in Boots, Trolls, and Angry Birds.
Inspired by the illustrations and writing of Edward Gorey, Sharack incorporates a whimsical-macabre style in which he hopes viewers can have a laugh even when the subject matter deals with darker times and events. His love for architecture helps him structure worlds in which he can immerse strange and wonderful characters and otherworldly beings.
Sharack’s most common medium is line drawing with pen and ink, using marker to add gray tones along with digital painting in Photoshop. Instagram: @sharackula
THE TRAIN TO IMPOSSIBLE PLACES is set to publish in October 2018 from Feiwel and Friends, which means we'll probably start seeing ARCs circulating some time in the summer. Until then, here are some reactions to the story from the folks that helped to make it a book:
"Young readers are in for a magical ride with The Train to Impossible Places. As the train hurtles through a kaleidoscope of stunning, impossible worlds, Suzy Smith will meet everyone from a talking snow globe to ghost pirates and killer statues. I love this book because it’s as fun as it is full of heart, and Suzy is sure to win readers over on her incredible adventure."
-Anna Poon, Assistant Editor, Feiwel and Friends
"What I love about Matt's work is his ability to build these amazingly intricate worlds. Each time you look at one of his pieces, you find something new (hint: the bottles displayed in the shop window of Trollville, the clothesline attached to the houses, the troll conductor in the back of the Impossible Postal Express...). With Train, there were many wildly different dimensions that Suzy travels to, so we wanted someone who could build whimsical worlds full of depth, and give us really strong characters too. Matt's use of light is wonderful too in that it creates even more drama and coziness (we should all want to live within the cover of a book, right?). Stay tuned for his beautiful full wrap art on the jacket of the printed books..."
-Katie Klimowicz, Senior Designer, Feiwel and Friends
"I'm ecstatic! Matt Sharack has crafted a brilliant cover that's bursting with character. Best of all, he's captured that sense of adventure that lies at the heart of the story. I'm so thrilled that my book will have such a gorgeous cover, and I can't wait to see what Matt's come up with for the interior illustrations." - PG Bell
THANKS, PG! THANKS, Matt! And THANKS, Feiwel and Friends!