The Art of Cover Design: Zoo Scientists to the Rescue

By Emily Harris, Senior Graphic Designer

I had the honor of designing the cover to Zoo Scientists to the Rescue, written by Patricia Newman, with photographs by Annie Crawley. Zoo Scientists to the Rescue is a new nonfiction book for middle-grade readers that highlights three scientists who are working to save endangered species. You can learn more about the title on Lerner’s website.

When I started thinking about this particular cover design, some initial questions came to mind:

  • Do we want to show photos of the zoo scientists on the cover? Or should this cover focus on the animals instead?
  • How do we show or tie in the rescue aspect of the book on the cover? Do we need to?
  • Does the cover image need to be a close literal match to the title?

There were many questions to work through, so it was time to get designing!

Zoo Scientists to the Rescue alternate cover
Option 1

I tried a few versions of the cover featuring a couple of the different animals, along with an image of some of the scientists out in the field. The multi-image approach was intriguing, but would it catch the reader’s eye? We wanted to create a visually strong cover that would really stand out. Using multiple images started to feel too cluttered and busy.

Plus, since most of the animals in the book are brown or darker in color, how could we make this a fun, colorful cover that readers would want to pick up?

Zoo Scientists to the Rescue alternate cover
Option 2

The final cover

After a few more rounds of testing out some different animals and color schemes, we decided to feature one close-up, dynamic photo of the rhino for a powerful and engaging cover image. We wanted to make sure that the reader could see a little bit of the enclosure/zoo fence in the background, so they would know that the animal was not roaming free in the wild. I used a bright, almost neon-like color palette so the title would pop, and to bring some fun color to the cover!

Zoo Scientists to the Rescue alternate cover

And that’s the journey of how the Zoo Scientists to Rescue cover came to be.

For a look at how photographer Annie Crawley and senior production designer Erica Johnson decided which photos to include inside the book, click here

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