I was finishing fourth grade when the first paperback edition of Caroline B Cooney’s The Face on the Milk Carton came out. I can vividly remember holding the book in my elementary school library and feeling like I had to know more about the missing little girl in pigtails on the cover. I’m not ashamed to say that the images on the front of the book made me want to read the story much more than the summary on the back. We remind our children (and ourselves) that we should never judge a book by its cover, but let’s face it, when it actually comes to picking out a book to read, we let ourselves be suckered in by great graphic design. The Face on the Milk Carton has been continuously in print since 1990. There have been four sequels, the last of which was published in 2013, twenty-three years after the series began. As the book’s original readers grew up and as more chapters were added to the story, the publishers changed the cover to attract new groups of readers.
This is the original cover from the 1990, hardcover release of The Face on the Milk Carton:
This is the original paperback cover from 1992. This is the book that Lauren Smyth, assistant director of UDPL, and I both remember reading when we were in elementary school! We both have very strong memories of this cover and were surprised when we realized that although the 1990 and 1992 covers are almost completely different, the designers kept the same illustration of the pigtailed little girl.
This is the 1996 update that crops out most of “my” cover and exchanges it for a deep red background. This was the standard cover for almost ten years until…
This is the 2006 cover. I have no idea what’s going on here, but I suspect that this cover change was made to entice science fiction and dystopian readers despite the fact that the book has nothing at all to do with science fiction or dystopias!
And, finally, this is the 2013 cover that was reissued when the final book was released. I don’t hate this cover, although it could make the reader think that s/he is holding a ghost story instead of a realistic drama.
You can check out The Face on the Milk Carton and any of its sequels from our YA Book Collection, back in the Teen Area of UDPL!