Wednesday, November 18, 2009


by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman

Art Director: Anne Twomey // Twelve Books - Grand Central Publishing

The central premise of this book is that many of modern society’s strategies for nurturing children are in fact backfiring – because key twists in the science have been overlooked.

For some jobs, it can take a while to come up with an idea that you think is worth pursuing. Exploring endless ideas and directions with many, many variations both broad and minute. But sometimes you get a job where you know exactly what you want to do before the client is done with their intro brief. That was the case when Art Director Anne Twomey called me to discuss a new book on the subject of how we were raising kids all wrong by over praising them. I recalled reading a New York Magazine about this very subject. It turned out that the same authors wrote it. Over praising your child either develops high self-esteem and encourages them to strive higher. Or sets them up for failure. The authors use science to back up their claim that everything we thought about raising a child is working towards opposite results. Shocking!
But whatever the opposing theories are, children were seen as delicate, fragile things caught in the middle. Treating them with kid's gloves. So by the time I hung up the telephone, I knew that an egg was the perfect metaphor. A white egg set against a white background. Simple and uncluttered. And the egg should be cracked. Suggesting both its fragile nature and the beginnings of coming out of its shell and ready to come into the world. I was going to shoot this myself but decided to see what was available through stock photos. I saw golden eggs, smashed eggs and cracked eggs. But visually, the idea was starting to look a little thin to me. Especially if I wanted to have the object against white. Then I saw an egg with a band-aid on it. That was a nice element of color to focus on. The band-aid could represent the child rearing that kept things together until it was ready to hatch. Or maybe it was stunting its growth and trapping them in a shell? It also made the perfect spot to the place the title. For a book that had a lot of attention and needed a “Big Book” commercial look, I’m happy that I was able to keep the execution clean and simple.

The author's NurtureShock Blog on Newsweek.


Dave Cullen said...

Hey, a beautify simple explanation for a beautify simple cover.

I really loved this cover--my second favorite of the year (haha).

It seemed pretty straightforward, but I wondered. Nice to know that sometimes it's a long slog and others it's nearly there from the start. That's pretty much how writing is for me.

Thanks Henry.

Jennifer Heuer said...

Fantastic solution!
Sometimes I'll tend to question myself when the solution seems so obvious before I even read the content. Glad to see though the process you kept the idea alive. Also glad to see that no one seemed to try and water it down but rather had confidence that the audience would understand it.

Great cover!