Author and filmmaker Amy Krouse Rosenthal gives new meaning to the term “face out,” when it comes to maximizing the chances of consumers seeing her book covers prominently displayed: with the help of assistant Kayla Ginsberg, Rosenthal has created a “book jacket jacket.” The jacket, made of muslin, is embossed with the actual covers pulled from a dozen of Rosenthal’s picture books, including Friendshape, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, which is being released by Scholastic on August 25.
Rosenthal, who has written seven books for adults and 30 books for children, says that creating a book jacket jacket was “so obvious,” that once she had the idea, she “couldn’t not do it.”
Indeed, the sentiment is the “driving force” in all her work, she says, recalling that when Duck! Rabbit! made the New York Times bestseller list in 2009, she made a “top 10 top,” and sent it around to the other children’s book authors on the list that week, asking them in turn to autograph it.
While the idea for a book jacket jacket had been percolating in Rosenthal’s mind for a while, she says, the project came to fruition only last month, after she mentioned it to her two interns, who brainstormed with Rosenthal on “an easy way” to make it happen.
It helped considerably that Ginsberg is an experienced seamstress and, in fact, cut out a pattern from the length of muslin on Rosenthal’s kitchen floor. She then adhered the actual book covers to the fabric, first with glue, and then stitching them on with a sewing machine, except for the arms of the jacket; those were sewn on by hand.
The entire production process took a week. The book covers chosen for use on the jacket were culled from those books that she actually had on hand that day, explaining that she doesn’t have “every single title” in her possession at all times.
The book jacket jacket made its debut on June 27 at novelist Elizabeth Berg’s quarterly Writing Matters literary salon, held at the Arts Center and Hemingway Museum in Oak Park, Ill. Rosenthal was the keynote speaker at that event.
“They seemed to love it; it went over well,” Rosenthal said, disclosing that, with the jackets adhered to the jacket, it’s a stiff item of clothing; she needs help just putting it on and taking it off. But, despite that, she says, “there’s something special about wearing the actual jackets,” rather than facsimiles of cover designs.
Rosenthal, who promises to let friends and fans try on the jacket at book signings and other literary events she attends, says that she is going to wear the book jacket jacket at the National Book Festival this September in Washington, D.C. She is hoping, though, that it will attract attention beyond literary circles, especially with her and perhaps others tweeting about it using the hashtag #BookJacketJacket.
“Maybe it’ll make its way to a fashion runway,” she said. “Maybe a model who likes books will want to wear it.”