I remember my favorite project when I took Commercial Art in 11th grade was
a cover illustration for a romance or mystery novel. We looked at a lot of
this kind of art on paperback books and then our teacher read us a short
story by O'Henry which was a murder mystery. He spent several days reading
it and we loved it. You have to find a really good short story to get the
kids hooked. We spent a lot of time working out the drawing and
compositional arrangment with the lettering (title and author like a real
book cover) and then traced it onto illustration board. I think it was
rendered in watercolor or acrylic.
With a mystery there is the trick in illustrating of not giving away the
story but offering some elements. Illustrators must be very skilled at
this and its important for students to understand this commercial
application of fine arts.
Always take time to stop and smell the roses... and sooner or later,
you'll inhale a bee.