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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Special Child

It's been a busy week and it's only going to get crazier, so I resort to the old standby: something from Seven Hundred Penguins. Every time I thumb through it something else jumps out at me; this time around, it's this 1973 design by Martin Causer.


My immediate reaction to this is that there's a snowball's chance in hell this would see the light of day today as it would be deemed politically incorrect. That it uses something that every educator would immediately recognize most likely wouldn't be enough to get it past the concept stage. But what do you think? Would you go here as a designer, or art direct someone here?

8 comments:

Jeffrey said...

I don't really know why it would be politically incorrect... In itself I think this simple idea stand out well and sticks. Don't really know what the book is about, but the idea of a child deviating from the 'norm' is quite well illustrated, although not in the most positive way. I would keep the contrast but work on a more positive association for it

Joseph said...

Jeffrey: it's the "not in a positive way" aspect that makes me say it might be read as not politically correct.

stage3design said...

The question comes down to target audience. Who is the book targeted to: the educator or the parent? An educator wouldn't mind the stark textbook feel and would appreciate the special "s" and all that it means. A parent would want to see the positive results of working with his/her special child and might be turned off by the textbook/clinical feel. Of course, the publisher would probably want to target both audiences, thus making this cover moot.

Dan K said...

I think the problem isn't the design or the S, it's the fact that calling kids "Special" has fallen from favor. So we're a little taken aback. It's like seeing an old textbook called "Treatment of the Moronic."

Debbie B said...

It's beautiful.

Cocobarks said...

As someone who has worked in special education for over a decade, I don't find the 'special S' appealing. I would be wary of such a cover and be suspicious of the content contained within. The S is demeaning and poorly represents students with serious language learning problems.

ian shimkoviak said...

I think it is simple and alludes enough to the issue that for those interested (and the fact that Penguin, published it) it would not come off as unPC. Plus, the series within which this falls makes it all that more absorbed into to popular minds eye. Penguin did a host of these books with the big bold type and single object as letter form or communicative device.

For the time, the covers were perfect and communicated a bunch. Plus, the 70s was no stranger to politically incorrect words, images, music etc. And there was little censorship or scrutinizing... So this cover probably past by the editors and publishers desk as they puffed a smoke indoors and said,"Looks good to me, how's 'The Role of Sex in Society Today' coming along?—I want a steamy cover for that on buddy boy!

MMMm said...

I don't think it's especially un-PC, but at the same time, I don't think it looks that good either. The whole balance of the cover just feels off. This reminds me of a book I saw awhile ago, when Dyslexia was just falling into the public eye. A book on the subject had its title shuffled up, so it read DSYEXLIC. At the time, I thought it was a pretty powerful way to sum up up the subject and the nature of the eponymous topic. Nowadays, however, that would never be allowed, just in case a potential customer was to stupid to work it out themselves. Design is so condescending these days.