Pantone colors have come to classic children’s books like “The Wizard of Oz” and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” — Quartz

You’ve seen it in cosmetics, Starbucks coffee cups, and even hospital scrubs, and now Pantone mania has infiltrated the children’s book section.

A series of literary classics cloaked in stark, plain covers are designed to look like the color-standard company’s iconic color-specification chips. Published by Puffin Books this month, the set is touted as an alternative to illustrated book covers that young readers have come to expect.

(Puffin / Penguin Random House)

The project is the brainchild of graphic designer Danielle Calotta, who used a process of free association to come up with the color for each title. Some choices were obvious: green for Anne of Green Gables; black for Black Beauty; metallic gold for A Christmas Carol. Others titles were harder, like The Wizard of Oz, which is covered in a sunny yellow hue. “Some people don’t know that her [Dorothy’s] original shoes [in the book] were silver, but a lot of people know her ruby red shoes. Then there’s also Emerald City, but inevitably, we settled with the yellow brick road,” explains Calotta.

The designer says her formulaic approach is just another way to think about book covers, and not meant to entirely replace illustrated versions. “This is a modern twist to children’s classics,” she explains. “I don’t know why they can’t both exist.”

(Anne Quito / Quartz)

Seeing the two covers side-by-side presents a startling contrast. On one hand, the nostalgic appeal of charming illustrations is unassailable, but the shock of plain covers in a crowded bookshelf draws the eye. “It takes you by surprise,” says book editor Dana Leydig. “With all the books out there, it’s so difficult to make a book that people will look at.”

(Anne Quito / Quartz)

Reader’s review

But what do Puffin’s target readers think of these minimalist covers? Will it work for middle schoolers who have yet to be exposed to the cult of Pantone?

Nine-year old Izzy, an avid reader who had never heard of…

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