I received a lovely surprise parcel on Saturday, courtesy of the nice people at Scholastic. It would appear that Scholastic are relaunching the totally brilliant Mortal Engines series in June, with brand new cover designs and under the series heading of Predator Cities. I have to say, I am something of an old-fashioned purist and prefer the illustrated covers that the first editions of these books came with, but I can see exactly where Scholastic are coming from with these new designs. Although steampunk has become a genre in its own right, and is incredibly popular with many adult readers, when I mention the term to the kids at school they tend to give me a blank look. To my great disappointment, they just aren't fussed with beautiful images of brass gears, fantastic steam-driven machines and the Victorian aesthetic. However, when I showed them these new covers on Monday they were in awe, many of them saying how they looked like X-Box games. One boy who would previously have not gone anywhere near a book of this 'thickness' was almost salivating at the thought of reading it.
I know that there will be many long time fans of this series that will hate these covers, but most of them will be adults who first discovered Mortal Engines when it was released in 2001, either as young adults or as adult readers. I would like to remind those readers who may not like these new covers that these books were written for the 11+ age group, and given the wonderfully timeless nature of the stories then a redesign of the covers to entice a new generation of readers into diving into them can only be a good thing in my opinion. It would be tragic if stories as perfect as these sat untouched on bookstore shelves just because the covers were out-of-date with current tastes.
As for the Predator Cities series title? Again, the kids at school loved it, and desperately wanted to know how a city could be a predator. Some of them are going to have to wait a while to find out, as there is now something of a waiting list of pupils who want to read Mortal Engines.