If you are following my blog, you’ve seen that I’ve done a lot of cover reveals in the past. But this is a different one. Lemme tell you again, this. is. different! Why? Because this girl is revealing a cover from one of the #Novel19s authors which you can only see here on Tale Out Loud! I know y’all are excited but before that, please read this note coming from the author.
When Reka Simonsen, my editor at Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, mentioned that our designer wanted to ask to Isabella Mazzanti to design and illustrate the cover for Story, I was over the moon.
If you don’t know Mazzanti’s work already, treat yourself to a Google Image search. I was a huge fan long before I saw the first sketches for my cover. Her art is often influenced by stories, specifically folklore and fairytales, and she illustrates gorgeous, haunting renditions of tales like “The Swan Maiden,” The Secret Garden, and Carmilla.
Since I write historical fiction, most often with a dash of fairytales and folklore, in some ways I guess Mazzanti and I are a lot alike—we both love to reimagine old stories. The only difference is our medium. What she does with color and lines, I try to do with words.
The Story That Cannot Be Told is set in 1989 Communist Romania. It follows young Ileana, an aspiring writer, from Bucharest to the Carpathian Mountains, where she must find her voice to save the people she loves from those who are trying to silence them.
Throughout the book, I retell several Romanian folktales and fairytales in Ileana’s voice, including “Cunning Ileana,” a traditional story about a very clever princess who must outwit three vile princes.
Mazzanti does a flawless job of capturing some of these folklore-inspired details in the cover, so I’d like to point out two of my favorites:
At the top, surrounded by a lovely woven pattern, is what looks like a three-headed snake. This is the balaur. Balauri are multi-headed Romanian dragons. They have fins and fangs and are utterly ruthless. Knights and hopeful heroes of all types go off to fight them, since their saliva can turn into precious gems, but Ileana might suggest that they’re perhaps not all as terrible as the stories make them out to be.
The White Wolf
Down at the bottom left, sneakily following our cunning heroine as she travels deep into the forest, is the white wolf. He may look adorable, but be wary. Legends say he’s the guardian of the Carpathian Mountains. Ileana isn’t quite sure what all the stories surrounding him mean, but there’s no question that the white wolf is dangerous.
I really couldn’t be happier with how this cover turned out. It captures the heart of The Story That Cannot Be Told and brings it to life.
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Title: The Story That Cannot Be Told
Author: J. Kasper Kramer
Published by: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 8, 2019
Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction, Fairy Tale
Cover Design: Isabella Mazzanti
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Ileana has always collected stories. Some are about the past, before the leader of her country tore down her home to make room for his golden palace, back when families always had enough food, and the hot water worked on more than just Saturday nights. Others are folktales like the one she was named for, which her father used to tell her at bedtime. But some stories can get you in trouble, like the dangerous one criticizing Romania’s Communist government that Uncle Andrei published—right before he went missing.
Fearing for her safety, Ileana’s parents send her to live with the grandparents she’s never met, far from the prying eyes and ears of the secret police and their spies, who could be any of the neighbors. Even in their remote mountain village, though, there are stories to collect. And when an unexpected visitor appears, danger soon follows. Now, to save her family and the village she’s come to love, Ileana will have to tell the most important story of her life.
About The Author:
J. Kasper Kramer lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she works as an adjunct professor of English. She’s represented by Yishai Seidman at Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency and earned her MA in Creative Writing from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Her work can be found in The Rumpus, The Coachella Review, and Catalpa. When she’s not curled up with a book, her passions include gaming, researching movies for a podcast she hosts with her husband, and fostering kittens.