Scholastic Is Sweet on Angel Cat
Scholastic has acquired the license for Angel Cat Sugar, a Japanese property from the mind of Hello Kitty creator Yuko Shimizu. Two books for girls 4—8 will launch in the school market this fall, followed by those two titles plus two more in the trade starting in January 2010. Four to six additional titles are planned for that year, with formats including 8x8s, readers, sticker books, book-plus and novelty books. They will tie into seasonal themes and include extras such as punch-out ornaments or scratch-and-sniff elements.
“We have been looking for younger licenses to balance out the older boy properties that sell so well for us, and Angel Cat Sugar fills that niche,” says Lynn Smith, director of licensed publishing, Scholastic Trade. “It’s simply adorable and we just loved the idea of creating young, fun, girly books with glitter, stickers and more.”
Angel Cat Sugar, which was introduced in Japan in 2002 and has many licensees worldwide, does not yet have any media support or major manufacturers on board in the U.S. market, aside from a juniors’ apparel line being tested at Wal-mart. “We loved the idea that, because there is no media component, we would have a hand in developing the world of Angel Cat Sugar,” Smith says.
S&S Has More Moxie
Simon & Schuster is building on its relationship with Moxie & Co. by giving the licensing agency representation rights for a half dozen additional properties. Moxie has been licensing Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys for Simon & Schuster since 2005. Both continue to expand; Nancy Drew saw new deals in the last year for apparel, accessories and bags, following longterm success in categories such as interactive games.
The agency will seek licensees for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, David A. Carter’s Bugs, Marissa Moss’s Amelia, Matthew Van Fleet’s Cat and Dog, Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman’s Bear and Little Pip, Little Quack, and Pendragon. The first licensee signed for any of the new properties is Manhattan Toy for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom developmental soft toys.
Meanwhile, Moxie & Co. is actively looking for more literary properties, talking to publishers, literary agents and authors and recently signing a deal with Suse MacDonald for Alphabet Animals. “Our goal is to add more iconic, classic books with staying power,” says co-owner Laura Becker.
Her partner Arlene Scanlan estimates that publishers and writers contact the agency at least once a week, on average, about licensing representation, adding, “We’re in a good spot right now, cyclically, for children’s publishing properties.”
Ni Hao, Nickelodeon
Nickelodeon has authorized 19 books based on its series Ni Hao, Kai Lan through the end of 2010, including titles from Simon & Schuster (storybooks), Random House (coloring and activity), Publications International (sound books), Readers Digest (supernovelty formats) and LeapFrog (Tag electronic readers).
The network is collaborating with Simon & Schuster and Random House on retail and cross-promotions, according to Paula Allen, Nickelodeon’s new senior v-p, global publishing. Target exclusively launched one book, along with a handful of toys, in May; Jade Liana, the actress who voices Kai Lan, will read and sign two of the Ni Hao titles at the Target Book Festival in Minneapolis in September, where Ni Hao will be the focus of the children’s section. Target, Borders and Kohl’s are end-capping the books, and Nickelodeon is talking to Barnes & Noble, Borders and Amazon.com about promotional events. Licensee Mega Brands will promote the books on its Ni Hao, Kai Lan packaging, while some book titles will feature call-outs for Fisher-Price and Vtech toys.
Ni Hao, Kai Lan follows in the footsteps of Nickelodeon’s other leading preschool girl property, Dora the Explorer, which launched with four books. “Dora paved the way for a new generation of preschool tie-in publishing,” Allen says. “It’s been a top publishing property for almost a decade now.”
Busy Time for Busytown
Cookie Jar Entertainment has signed a number of new licensees for author Richard Scarry’s characters, in conjunction with the debut of a new 52-episode television series, Busytown Mysteries, which will launch this fall. NCircle Entertainment is on board for six DVDs, Cookie Jar has created a Web site called BusytownMysteries.com that includes an immersive world and a fan club, and Simon & Schuster will introduce a new line of books, based on storylines from the TV series, in summer 2010. Current licensed products, for boys age 2-5, include board games from I Can Do That, puzzles from Cardinal and cake decorating supplies from DecoPac. Toys, plush, home furnishings and gifts are planned.
According to Lisa Streff, Cookie Jar’s senior v-p of domestic consumer products, the series has the look of the classic books, and many of Scarry’s most popular characters appear in it. Pointing out that there hasn’t been any merchandise on the market for quite some time, Streff says retail-specific promotions are planned with mass and mid-tier retailers and that the company is in talks with bookstore chains as well.
Angelina Heads Beyond Ballet
Angelina Ballerina: The Next Steps, a new 3D-animated series, will begin in September on PBS Kids. In the show, Angelina goes to a performing arts school and learns about new forms of music and dance; it includes 11-minute live-action segments that demonstrate dance techniques and exercises.
“This will revitalize the brand while remaining true to the original books,” says Gary Krakower, senior v-p licensing and live events at licensor HIT Entertainment. “It’s an awesome way to enhance the arts curriculum. It’s a new, vibrant show and it serves a real need, especially as it relates to arts education.” The first merchandise will roll out this fall in a program at FAO Schwarz featuring plush and dolls from Madame Alexander, home décor from Toy Workshop and costumes from Rubie’s. In fall 2010, the consumer product range will expand to include toys, apparel and other categories that will be available across mass retail outlets.
Also in fall 2010, Penguin’s Grosset & Dunlap imprint will launch a tie-in book program, featuring 8x8s, readers, sticker story books and novelty formats, according to Francesco Sedito, v-p and publisher of Grosset & Dunlap and Price Stern Sloan. Three to four titles are expected to be released per season through 2012. Grosset’s last Angelina tie-ins, to a previous 2D-animated series, were released in fall 2007; the most recent original picture book from Viking was published in 2005, with the entire backlist reissued since then. Sedito expects some cross-promotion with other Angelina licensees. “Wherever there’s an opportunity to hold hands, we will,” he says.
Nordstrom will exclusively sell children’s apparel in its Midwest and Northeast stores based on the Planet Color by Todd Parr brand. The clothing will be produced by Jen’s Ideas.... Grosset & Dunlap will publish three titles for boys 7-10 tied to Warner Bros.’ Batman: The Brave and the Bold, in spring 2010.... Modern Publishing will release Smurfs coloring and activity books, licensed by Sony. The classic blue characters will make their comeback in an upcoming film.... Majesco Entertainment is introducing interactive games for the Wii and Nintendo DS platforms based on The Daring Book for Girls.... Warner Bros.’ licensing program for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince includes manufacturers NECA and Corgi International for toys, Mattel for a Scene It game, and Noble for wands, chess sets and sculpts, among others.