Canada's Most Iconic Book Cover: We have a winner!

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After weeks of voting, our search for Canada's most iconic book cover is over! You've chosen Robert Munsch's Love You Forever as the winner, edging out Anne of Green Gables in a very close vote. Love You Forever claimed the title of Canada's Most Iconic Book Cover with 52 per cent of the final vote.

We got a chance to speak with Sheila McGraw, the illustrator for the winning title. Here's what she had to say:

How does it feel to know that Canada voted for your work as the most iconic book cover?

It's shocking! It's shocking because the cover was up against Anne of Green Gables at the end. To be in the company of such a classic, fantastic book made me think we wouldn't pull that off. It was really close; it wasn't a majority decision here. We were neck and neck for the whole last round. It feels pretty incredible.

The book is almost 30 years old now, why do you think this cover has stayed so iconic through the years?

Well, it's meshed with the story, I think. There's a genius in Robert Munsch's writing. With all of his books, parents can relate to it as much as children. In this book, it's so moving that the parents cry. Meanwhile, the kids are laughing their cute little butts off! They both relate to it, but in very different ways. I don't think there's another book that does that. And it's about people, it's not about anthropomorphized animals or anything like that. One of the challenges in the illustrations was to make the people generic enough that everybody could relate to them.

On that note, is there an actual child you used as a reference for the illustrations?

I have two sons who are now grown-up men. My youngest son was about 8 years old at the time, and so he shows up as the dirty kid coming into the kitchen with the baseball cap on. I had a black and white cat and a striped one. Throughout the book the cats show up until the son grows up, changes houses and gets his own cat. My older son was 5 years older, so he was more the adolescent-teenage guy.

The cover is taken from an illustration inside the book. Did you choose the image?

Before I did the final illustrations of the book, I did preliminary sketches of almost every illustration for the publisher and designer to look at. Lionel Koffler, the owner of Firefly Books, chose that illustration. You have to decide that in advance because it had to be cropped at the bottom and extended at the top to put the type in.

If you were to get the job today, how do you think you would approach it differently?

I don't think I would. I'm illustrating a book right now in the same medium, in the same size, and really the same kind of style. The story needs to be able to break down in a continuous and lyrical way that works from page to page. Love You Forever does that. I don't think I'd change anything on it. Maybe some of the reviews we got at the beginning, the book was panned!

Well millions of copies later I'm sure they're eating their words now.

I hope so. There is some good karma here!



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