Thursday, 7 March 2013

Maggot Moon uncovered - twice

Continuing with our Carnegie 2013 longlist adventures, here's Maggot Moon.

Sally Gardner's award-winning Maggot Moon drew inspiration from the 1969 moon landing conspiracy theories and explores aspects of totalitarian propaganda. Here, we look at the messages hidden behind Maggot Moon’s two different UK covers. Jet Purdie, Hot Key Books’ art director, takes us behind the covers once again.


“Hot Key Books Managing Director Sarah Odedina expressed an interest in Brazilian Cordel style wood carving for Sally Gardner's Maggot Moon cover and put me on to a talented illustrator friend of hers called Julian Crouch.

I knocked up a dramaticcally cropped Cordel style rough with what I thought was the most striking image in the book – Standish Treadwell's different coloured eyes. One blue one brown.

(M: Standish is the main character & I loved that image in the book and the cover.)

We then commisioned Julian Crouch who created some lovely Cordel style cover art.

Illustration by Julian Crouch

I hand drew some cyrillic / Russian / propaganda style title type.

I decided to use Cyan (blue) and black and avoided red as I thought it too obvious. I like to work with a limited colour pallet and the blue already existed in Standish Treadwell's eye.

The first version's cover, published for children

 After Sally Gardner won the 2012 COSTA Children's Book Award we decided to print an adult version of the cover.

(M: This adult definitely enjoyed reading Maggot Moon)

For the adult version I took inspiration from Russian match boxes that featured space race images of rockets orbiting the moon. I love the poor quality printing and the fact the images had to be illustrated so graphically due to the tiny size of the matchbox label they were printing on. When the illustration are enlarged they reveal all kinds of beautiful imperfections.

(M: I wonder what they say? My Russian’s a bit lacking....)

For the adult version of Maggot Moon I re-drew various sections of dozens of the Russian government issue match boxes and merged them together. In my mind the rats symbolise Standish and his best friend. The proportion of the moon is intentionally unrealistic in comparison to the rats… but you'll need to read this wonderful book to discover why that might be.

The book was purposefully distressed and printed on uncoated paper to give the feeling it was printed in the mid 1950s when the story is set.

 I hope you love it as much as I do.”
- Jet Purdie

M: Oh, I loved Maggot Moon. Probably, I prefer the original cover, maybe because I loved the story from the first time I read it. But now, I’m looking at the adult cover a lot more curiously too....
You can read my review here.


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