Flying Fancies

by Edie Ziebel

Whether you want to fly like a bird or blast off into space, flying is a popular subject for children’s books. The subject often creates fabulous covers!

There are a number of bird covers that are just wonderful. For instance, the gigantic pigeon on JOURNEY AROUND NEW YORK FROM A TO Z is a riot! UNITED TWEETS OF AMERICA has many different state birds all with their wings spread in the classic eagle-on-quarter pose. On both of these covers,I like the way the image and typography interact to create a tight composition. A very different bird cover, PATHS TO PEACE, uses symbolic silhouettes and muted colors to set the stage for a very different sort of book, profiles of "people who changed the world."

For mechanical flyers, the covers often feature our subject - the airplane - in the air. The range of illustrative “takes” on this vehicle are surprising. For the youngest readers the planes often look like cute and chubby toys. For middle grade readers there’s often more detail, perhaps an old-fashioned bi-plane for an airplane invention story or a more modern plane for a contemporary story. And of course, for the more realistic covers, photos or photo illustrations are often used. We can trace a continuum from A IS FOR AIRPLANE/A ES PARA AVION, through AIRPORT, HOW PEOPLE LEARNED TO FLY, and finally THE NOISY AIRPLANE RIDE.

There are many books with space exploration as a subject. The two examples
here, SPACE HEROES and MOONWALK while similar in format, are very different, one successful to my eye, and the other much less so. MOONWALK has a clear, focused image.  SPACE HEREOS is dealing with a broader topic, but it's montage is too diffuse, it's difficult to focus on any of the image's elements.

About the Author


From baby books, to chapter books, through middle grade readers and young adult books, Edie Ziebel has designed and art directed over 1,000 books. Edie has worked at several major publishing houses and has always been a freelance designer throughout her career. She has collaborated with outstanding, award-winning illustrators as well as newcomers to the field, helping them to create compelling books for young readers. To help nurture talent, Edie volunteers with the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature One-on-One Conference, which she has co-chaired for the past 3 years.

With experience in trade, mass-market, and educational publishing, Edie will bring the appropriate design to your project. Specializing in books for very young children, Edie can help you develop illustrated books, guiding the development of the artwork itself, as well as the layout and pacing to make your story jump off the page. Edie’s also has collaborated on many different types and formats of novelty books, she can really think "outside the box".

Her experience working with licensed properties can help you create a character that stands out in the crowded license marketplace. She can develop style guides to help keep characters consistent whether you continue to create  their books or have others extend your line.

Edie’s time in educational publishing helped develop her informational graphic skills, helping authors bring home their point to readers in a clear, graphic manner. She’s also designed books and materials targeted towards teachers. 

Bringing a sensitivity to typography and layout to all her book projects, Edie Ziebel can bring the best out of you!


"She is intelligent, concise, has a good eye for detail and a great sense of humor."

"Edie one of my favorite art directors ever. We worked on a number of wonderful books together at Cartwheel, a Scholastic imprint. She is imaginative, creative, inspirational and a pure pleasure to work with. I repeat, one of the best!"

"Edie is a phenomenal organizer who’s able to juggle many projects at once, and she manages schedules and people with ease. She was well-loved by her staff, and all the freelance designers and artists she worked with. I was lucky to have her on my team. A strong designer of both upscale trade and mass-market children’s books--a rare combination—I don’t think I ever once saw her lose patience or become flustered."

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