Girls love pink. Not surprisingly, there’s a legion of girls (and, yes, women, too) who love the picture book Pinkalicious by sisters Elizabeth and Victoria Kann (HarperCollins, May 2006). The rosy tale stars a girl who can’t get enough of her favorite treat—pink cupcakes—even when she turns pink herself after overindulging. The book has sold 150,000 copies to date, and for those who can’t get enough of the print form, there’s Pinkalicious the Musical, a nationally touring show, and even Pinkalicious T-shirt dresses available through the authors’ Web site. The girlish color wheel isn’t about to stop spinning, either. Last month HarperCollins released a follow-up: Purplicious, with a first printing of 70,000.
Marketing pink products to the female population is nothing new, of course. But other than its bubble-gum-hued jacket, what makes Pinkalicious a hit? “It speaks to the princess that seems to be in every little girl,” observes Maryanne Eichorn, owner of Munchkin’s Bookshelf in Wexford, Pa. “It’s been one of our bestsellers, especially over the summer,” she adds. “And the play [running in nearby Pittsburgh November 17—19] has generated a lot of interest recently. We’ve also done well with Purplicious already.”
Maria Modugno, v-p and editorial director at HarperCollins Children’s Books, and editor of both books, believes that Pinkalicious strikes chords of familiarity with readers on several levels. “The story drops you into a Saturday afternoon in a hectic family’s life,” she says. “It has a very nice mix of things that are real. I’m always drawn to picture books about extraordinary things happening to ordinary kids.”
Though she thought that Pinkalicious had many other things going for it, Modugno admits that she is not completely immune to the power of color. “The pink in this book and in other books seems to give off some sort of psychological call,” she says with a laugh. In fact, according to Amazon.com’s tracking, people who recently purchased Pinkalicious from the online retailer also bought Purplicious as well as a roster of other pink and purple titles: Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor, illus. by Robin Preiss Glasser, Priscilla and the Pink Planet by Nathaniel Hobbie and Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes.
Modugno had her own strong reaction to the book when it first landed on her desk. “In the same way the little girl couldn’t resist pink cupcakes, I couldn’t resist this book dummy,” which happened to arrive (recommended by another editor) wrapped in a big pink ribbon. “It’s very rare to find projects that feel so right,” she says. “It’s one of the first things I signed up when I got to Harper some four years ago.”
The editor’s enthusiasm proved infectious in-house. “This was not signed up with high expectations,” she says. The book had a solid, but not huge, first printing of 35,000 copies. “People got excited when they saw what Fancy Nancy [another fast-selling pink-hued Harper project released in late 2005] could do,” Modugno says. “We had some sort of track record to go on.” And the record remains strong; according to Modugno, Purplicious is already selling faster out of the gate than its predecessor.
Booksellers have shown support for Pinkalicious as well, a number of them, including Just Books in Old Greenwich, Ct., Books of Wonder in New York City and Borders and Barnes & Noble stores in Pennsylvania and Connecticut, hosting parties featuring the book’s signature baked good. “Thank God there are booksellers that allow pink frosting in their stores!” Modugno says. And, yes, thank goodness there are also lots of girls who love pink.