karen romano young

Cover Stories: Hundred Percent by Karen Romano Young

In Hundred Percent, Christine Gouda, aka Tink, is in her last year of elementary school, where she encounters standard awkwardness with a sharply realistic perspective and voice. Annie Barrows, author of the Ivy & Bean series, says of Hundred Percent, “Karen Romano Young must be twelve. There’s no other way she can possibly know what she knows about sixth grade in all its weirdness and glory.”

So how to convey Tink's world visually? Karen says the cover, with original art by Natalie Andrewson, was "a pretty excellent surprise." Here's a little more from the author about how it came to be:

“My initial reaction to seeing the cover: ‘SCREAM.  How utterly gorgeous! I love that color. It's going to be a stunning book and I am blubbing over it.’

“The cover captured Tink. In mood and approach, it felt the way the story felt to me. So I was impressed. How did illustrator Natalie Andrewson do that? What did the designer, Kayla Ferriera, say to Natalie, to get her to do that? What did the editors ask Kayla for? Stuff like this mystifies me. Also, there were different versions in terms of illustration style but I’m pretty sure the concept was always what you see. 

“We messed around with color combinations, and that was fun. We fooled with shirt and skirt styles, too. For me the most fun was the nail polish. I think it started out blue, but once we settled on a blue skirt it blended in too much. I didn’t think Tink would wear red, not her style. And I promised that if they made the nails green I would wear green nail polish whenever I signed the book at an event.

"I love that they incorporated my art (Tink’s signature on the class picture frames) into the cover.  It is also on the book’s 'undies' — the case — in white on the gorgeous yellow case, and that really touches me and makes me feel how much the book is mine. Chronicle really, really pays attention to the details and does everything in such a loving, considerate way. It’s great to be one of their authors, and I truly love my book.

"Hundred Percent has a great deal of me in it, and I had a red polo shirt that fit me like this. Also, I was always wearing buttons and badges, I thought they were fabulous when I was in junior high. My dream was to have my own badge-making machine. So the fact that Tink’s signature turned into a badge blew my mind. Tink doesn’t wear badges in the book, although Bushwhack does. So it’s like Natalie saw into my heart.

"There’s one other thing that I adore about the cover, and I really can’t tell why. I love the little button on the waist of Tink’s skirt. It just seems like such a personal touch."

Thanks, Karen, for sharing so much about all the tiny details in this cover, and how getting them exactly right creates a visual energy to match the story's. Yay, Tink! 

Read an excerpt of Hundred Percent here.