The Accidental Cover

The Year of the Turtle cover with the colors all wrong
Year of the Turtle cover just right

Sometimes, the accidents of technology are inspiring.

When I scanned The Year of the Turtle‘s cover by David Carroll for this piece, I had an extra button selected on the scanning software which made the colors all wrong.

Or at least the colors are not the way the designer intended.

This accidental cover is, in my opinion, more arresting than the original. Its coolness, and slightly off-hue color scheme (lily pads are never quite that shade of green) catch the eye because they are just that—off.

The shadow cast by the turtle on the right jumps out, carrying the action of the illustration to the bottom right where one’s vision bounces at the corner of the paper, and then loops up to the title.

The turtles themselves are darker, more commanding.

I can certainly understand the choices made by the designer of the original cover. They are more in line with the tones of the natural world Carroll describes. On the other hand, his book is haunted by changes in the turtles’ environment, changes that are not for the better.

This book was published by Camden in 1991. Twenty years later, as we witness daily degradation of the natural world, does my accidental cover serve the purpose of the book better than the original?

I wonder.

By the way, this is one of my favorite natural history books ever. Highly recommended.

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