Where the Boys Are
Penguin Young Readers Group is going after boys with three new licenses: The Jim Henson Company’s Dinosaur Train, an animated, science-focused series on PBS Kids, for ages up to 5; Nickelodeon and Dreamworks’ Penguins of Madagascar, a TV series based on the Madagascar feature films, for ages 8—12; and Chaotic, a trading card and online game and TV franchise from 4Kids Entertainment, for ages 7—12. Books for all three will launch later in 2010.
The decision to tie into Dinosaur Train “was really a no-brainer,” says Francesco Sedito, v-p and publisher, Grosset & Dunlap and Price Stern Sloan. “When I heard the name, I knew: dinosaurs plus trains equal boys. And the animation looks terrific. It’s perfect for our portfolio and fills that preschool niche perfectly.” (Random House holds the rights for Dinosaur Train coloring and activity books.)
Penguins of Madagascar was one of Nickelodeon’s biggest launches ever, attracting 6.1 million viewers to its April 2009 premiere. Initial publishing formats will include joke books, 8x8s, and a title called Skipper’s Log, based on the main character’s propensity for record-keeping. “This is the most fun thing we’re working on,” Sedito says, noting that the humor appeals to children and adults alike. A range of other licensed products will debut in summer 2010, including toys from Hooga Loo.
The Chaotic publishing program will be mainly fiction-based. The TV show skews younger than the trading card/online games, so “there are lots of different entry points,” Sedito reports. “4Kids let us in to the vault and into the world of Chaotic. They’re letting us connect a lot of the dots they may not have connected before.”
The Joester-Loria Group has signed on to represent HarperCollins’s Pinkalicious brand for licensing, on behalf of co-author/illustrator Victoria Kann. The three books in the series, Pinkalicious, Purplicious and Goldilicious, have sold nearly a million copies.
“Every few years you see a property with emotional appeal and a real sense of a groundswell around it,” says Joester-Loria president and CEO Debra Joester. “We’re excited about the unique look of the book and how that will translate into products and packaging. The art leaps right off the page. And we’ve seen real traction in the marketplace with publishing properties.”
Products for girls 4—7 will include everything from apparel and footwear to interactive games and health and beauty products, with the first mass-market range to launch in fall 2010, timed to Wal-mart’s exclusive introduction of toys from licensee JAKKS Pacific. Several licensees also will target book, gift and specialty stores, including Madame Alexander (soft toys) and Books to Bed (pajamas). “Barnes & Noble [the launch partner for the books] is a big priority for us,” says Joester. “They and other bookstores are making a greater commitment to non-book product, especially at holiday.”
Fresh Licensing Program for Biscuit
Another HarperCollins property with a new licensing effort is Biscuit, a series for kids 3—7 by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, illustrated by Pat Schories. More than 13 million copies are in print after 13 years. The licensing program will be anchored by plush, expected on the market by the fourth quarter of 2010; other targeted categories include toys and games, apparel, bath products, accessories, interactive games, collectibles and room décor. HarperCollins will work with licensees who want to pack books with their products.
“We’re in an era of media-driven, hyped properties,” says Larry Seidman, CEO of Dimensional Branding Group, which is representing the property for licensing. “But this has great appeal, it’s very simple, and it’s really a classic. Kids relate to it. Biscuit is them.” The puppy goes through real-life situations that children experience themselves, and role-playing toys will be among the eventual licensed products.
Seidman points out that annual sales of the books continue to grow, even after 13 years. “Awareness is critical for any property,” he says. “You’ve got to have a little bit of a track record. This has that awareness through the readership.”
Start-Up Partners with Starlight
Little Pickle Press, founded in January 2009, has forged a partnership with the Starlight Foundation. Ten percent of the purchase price from books in the publisher’s What Does It Mean to Be... series will go to the organization, and the alliance will be promoted on the back cover of the books, as well as on a full inside page that describes Starlight’s work. The first title in the series, written by company founder Rana DiOrio, is What Does It Mean to Be Global?, published in October 2009; What Does It Mean to Be Green? will follow in March 2010; and What Does It Mean to Be Present? next October.
DiOrio says Little Pickle’s goal is to cultivate social responsibility, both human and environmental, in children, and to lead by example. “We surveyed a lot of nonprofits and we identified the Starlight Foundation as one whose mission is parallel with ours,” she explains. DiOrio has made appearances and participated in book giveaways on behalf of the organization.
Classic Media has partnered with TDC Games to produce Where’s Waldo? puzzles; Musictoday for an online shopping destination, shopwaldo.com; and Ludia for an iPhone app.... GiddyUp, a division of Elmer’s Products, is making coloring and activity books, as well as arts and crafts products, based on Marvel’s Super Hero Squad,Spider-Man,Iron Man 2 and Thor. Retailers ranging from Borders to Target began selling the books in fall 2009.... Scholastic is partnering with Post Cereals for two promotions supporting The 39 Clues in 2010, one in January for book #7 and one in August for book #10. More than four million cereal boxes will feature The 39 Clues on packaging, across several brands, during each six- to eight-week tie-in.... The Haywire Group will launch a line of puzzles and games in 2010 tied to Guinness World Records.... Warner Bros. Consumer Products named Tomy Europe as the new master toy licensee for Harry Potter in Europe. The company will produce toys for the final two movies in the series, set for 2010 and 2011, and have access to imagery from previous films.... MGA Entertainment has signed several licensees for its BFC (Best Friends Club), Ink. book-and-toy brand, including Added Extras (cosmetics), Berkshire Fashions (outerwear and underwear), Brewster (wall appliqués), Children’s Apparel Network (apparel), Division Six (skateboards and scooters), FAB/Starpoint (stationery and bags), Franco Manufacturing (bedding, bath and beach towels), Garment Group (hosiery), Hynotic Hats (sleepwear), Marmol & Sons (perfume), Pan Oceanic Eyewear (sunglasses), SG Footwear (shoes) and Weisner (accessory footwear) .... Chorion partnered with Ty’s Toy Box to launch a dedicated Olivia e-commerce shop for products such as exclusive personalized t-shirts, DVDs, and TV tie-in books from Simon & Schuster. Chorion also debuted an official Web site, myolivia.com, featuring games, printables and information about the books and TV series.