Nancy Drew Goes Electronic

Licensing activity surrounding Simon & Schuster’s Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys properties has expanded in the last year or so, moving beyond nostalgic products for adults to more tween- and teen-targeted categories, especially electronics. Recent licensees include Global Wonder Entertainment for mobile content and games; Uclick for mobile versions of comics and graphic novels published by licensee PaperCutz; Majesco for interactive handheld games; Dreamcatcher Interactive for videogames; and Stonehenge Media for online movie mystery games.

“The electronics are going to be our ticket to get into [tweens’ and teens’] hearts and minds,” said Laura Becker, partner in Moxie & Co., which has served as the licensing agent for Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and the Bobbsey Twins since 2005. “Interactive and mobile have become just as strong or stronger than TV with this audience.”

HER Interactive, a long-time licensee that recently introduced its 19th Nancy Drew videogame and first DVD game, has helped boost interest among tweens and teens and the companies that market to them. Other factors include three new book series from Simon & Schuster—Nancy Drew: Girl Detective, Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew and Hardy Boys: Undercover Brothers—and the Nancy Drew movie released last year. “These have brought in a younger audience,” Becker said. “They’re really helping to pique interest.”

Currently there are 16 licensees signed for one or both of the properties. Future areas of expansion are likely to include Nancy Drew apparel and accessories and more Hardy Boys merchandise in all categories.

Treasure Trove of Wildlife Art

Treasure Bay, the 10-year-old publisher of the We Both Read series—40 fiction and nonfiction books that feature alternating pages for beginning readers and their parents or caregivers to read aloud—has licensed the imagery of wildlife artists The Hautman Brothers. When president Don Panec was perusing the exhibits at the annual Licensing Show, he noticed the Hautmans’ work at the booth of their agent, MHS Licensing. “They had these absolutely gorgeous, beautiful paintings they’ve done over the years, all of American wildlife,” he said. “They’re licensed for everything, all over the world, but they’ve never done children’s books.”

Treasure Bay rarely considers licensing, which can be a drawback in the education market; the company sells about 75% of its books to schools, 10% to bookstores and the remainder to other channels, such as wholesalers and libraries. But because its books feature an illustration on every page, about 40 in all, commissioning the detailed artwork required for nonfiction topics such as wildlife can be cost-prohibitive, making a license for an existing art portfolio a better option. In this case, the Hautmans had 300 images to choose from, which simplified the process of putting together a title on animals of North America, Panec says. The book is scheduled for a 2009 release.

The Hautmans, Jim, Bob and Joe—another brother is the novelist Pete Hautman—have had their art featured on over 45 state and federal conservation stamps, as well as on a wide range of licensed products, from crafting kits to auto accessories. Their agent, MHS president Marty Segelbaum, said he and the artists had been talking about doing some sort of educational publishing, whether for children or adults, when they were approached by Treasure Bay.

Disney Rocks with The Jonas Brothers

Disney and its publishing partners, including Modern Publishing, Reader’s Digest and Senario, are following up on the success of tween-targeted Disney Channel properties Hannah Montana and High School Musical with Camp Rock, a Disney Channel Original movie debuting this summer and starring the musical group The Jonas Brothers. Formats to coincide with the movie’s premiere will include novelty books from Reader’s Digest, activity books from Modern, a journal pillow from Senario, and a poster book, junior novel, and fill-in storybook from Disney Press, which will follow up with a scrapbook and a line of original novels in the fall.

“Retailers are very excited about it,” said Modern’s president Andrew Steinberg, who adds, “No one manages a brand better than Disney.” The brothers recently concluded a stint as the opening act for the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus concert tour; future plans include a second album, a worldwide headline concert tour, and a future TV series on The Disney Channel, where they are already familiar to viewers through numerous appearances.

Disney’s entire line of books and merchandise for Hannah Montana and High School Musical ranked among the most sought-after products for tweens and teens during the Christmas season. Disney Consumer Products announced in January that the 30 Hannah Montana titles to date have sold over three million copies.

S&S to Publish Cheerios Contest Winner

Shellie Braeuner.

Simon & Schuster will publish the winning entry in the Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories Children’s Book Contest, which received nearly 1,000 submissions from unpublished writers between June and September of last year. The Great Dog Wash, for children ages four to eight, will not only be launched in paperback inside Cheerios boxes in spring 2009, but will be available in hardcover at bookstores starting that summer. Shellie Braeuner of Nashville is the winning author; her story will be paired with illustrations by Robert Neubecker.

The winner received $5,000 and the opportunity to have her story reviewed by Simon & Schuster, but there was no guarantee that the book would be published. The first two stanzas are featured on the Spoonfuls of Stories Web site; any edits, along with preliminary sketches and then color illustrations as they’re finished, will also be posted to give visitors some insight into the book publishing process.

In Brief

Yottoy will create plush toys based on Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie, as well as a Pigeon backpack. This is an expansion of its previous license for Pigeon, Knuffle Bunny and Leonardo plush…. Brainytoys will introduce a range of educational playthings under the Little Golden Books brand, licensed by Classic Media…. Film studio Paramount launched a licensing effort for The Hotel for Dogs, a 2009 movie based on the book by Lois Duncan…. Paramount also authorized Habbo, a 1.8 million-member online world for teens, to create virtual goods based on The Spiderwick Chronicles and Beowulf… Scholastic will publish books tied to The Official Pokémon Experts Club, an expansion of its ongoing Pokémon license…. The Mr. Men Show, a TV series based on the Roger Hargreaves books, premiered on the Cartoon Network this past Monday. More than 25 licensees are signed for apparel, accessories, health and beauty, home décor, novelties, seasonal items, stationery, paper goods, toys and games, to roll out in 2009.