A Six-Year-Old Judges Classic SF Books By Their Covers

By David Wharton | Published

Authority figures have been hammering the lesson into us for decades: “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” But that’s not actually true, is it? I mean, somebody went to a lot of trouble designing that cover. People at the publishing company hemmed and hawed until they decided which artwork best suited the book, which one was the most likely to reach out and grab your attention while you’re browsing through the bookstore shelves. It seems to me that the only reason book covers exist is so you can judge the book by them, and hopefully then decide you’re intrigued enough to spend your hard-earned money on them.

But what if that old saying were taken — and tested — literally? That’s the idea that one of the writers of the Strollerderby parenting blog decided to try, with her six-year-old daughter as the guinea pig. She showed her daughter various classic books and asked her to guess what the story was about, based solely on the cover art. Her guesses are as entertaining as you might expect (in some cases they sound better than the books’ actual plots), and her subject books include several legendary SF novels. We’ve included a couple of our favorites below, and you can read the rest over at Strollerderby.

“This book is about the future. I think the future will all be robotics becasuse that’s what it’s like in cartoons, so the book would be like that.”
“It’s about the desert. It’s a mystery about the desert. You know, I think it’s actually about a slot machine that is lost in the desert.”
“I think this is about a gigantic robot who goes on fire and he doesn’t like himself. It has a sad ending. It looks like a book for teens. The title means fire, a really really really big fire since the number is 451, that would mean it was really hot. So the robot must get really hot. Maybe that is why he is so sad.”
“It’s about a person who is a robot, a very colorful robot. He’s pretty fancy for a robot.”