Angelina Pirouettes to Pleasant
Angelina Ballerina picture books for girls 3-7 written by Katharine Holabird, illustrated by Helen Craig, will have a renewed U.S. presence in 2000, thanks to a licensing deal between U.K.-based HIT Entertainment and Mattel division Pleasant Co. In the fall, Pleasant will release five of the nine Angelina hardcover backlist titles (which have been out of print in the States for three years but have sold upward of 2.5 million over the last decade), along with a new hardcover title by the same team, two activity books and a merchandise line. "We were interested in expanding the American Girl franchise to the youngest of American girls, and Angelina will help us do that," said Judy Woodburn, Pleasant Co.'s v-p of editorial development.
An Angelina animated series is planned for 2001; HIT hopes that having books and merchandise on the market a year earlier will help establish the brand. "There's a gap in the market for girls' properties that are really strong," said Holly Stein, v-p of consumer products for HIT Entertainment USA. "Both Pleasant Co. and Mattel have great track records developing brands for girls."
First Snow Falls
In December 1998, BBC Worldwide Publishing introduced The First Snow of Winter, a picture book written by Graham Ralph and illustrated by Sue Tong, in conjunction with an animated series premiering that month on BBC1. The property--about Sean, a duck who remains in Ireland for the winter instead of flying South--has generated more than 80,000 video and 20,000 book sales in the U.K.
First Snow is now poised for a U.S. publishing deal via its North American licensing agent, United Media, which is seeking a publishing partner and licensees for plush figures, gifts, collectibles and stationery for children 4-8, said Kathie Fording, v-p of new business development. The special may already be familiar to some consumers; the Disney Channel aired it at the end of both 1998 and 1999 and Columbia TriStar introduced the home video last fall.
The department store Mervyn's will feature Dick Bruna's Miffy (also represented by United Media) in its infant and toddler departments at 267 outlets starting in March. This is just the most recent example of children's books to be highlighted in national mass market and department store chains. The literary tie-ins typically include in-store signage, a presence in catalogues and advertising, and at least some exclusive merchandise.
David Kirk's NOVA's Ark appeared in 1,000 Target stores during late 1999; advertising, circulars and P.O.P. generated one billion consumer impressions, according to Nicholas Callaway, president of publisher Callaway & Kirk. "It was primarily an image campaign utilizing NOVA as an icon and mascot for [Target's] whole toy presence," said Callaway. "It was also a general image campaign to debut NOVA as a character in the mass market."
Meanwhile, J.otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh's Olive the Other Reindeer (Chronicle) assumed a high profile at Nordstrom. The chain's KidsWear departments sold Olive books; Nordstrom made a $100,000 contribution to Reading Is Fundamental. Jennifer Robinson, v-p of domestic sales and worldwide publishing for licensor 20th Century Fox, said Nordstrom will repeat the promotion next year with double the amount of product. An Olive animated TV special debuted on Fox last December.
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