Starting this spring, Penguin Young ReadersGroup's Grosset & Dunlap imprint will publish a variety of formats underthe Classic Pooh brand, through a deal with Disney Licensed Publishing. Thebooks, to include hardcover picture books, board books, paperback storybooks,sticker books and novelty books, will feature artwork inspired by the classicE.H. Shepard illustrations and editorial content tied to the world of A.A.Milne's original stories. The first four titles will release in April, followedby three more this summer.
"The idea really started here, in-house, due tothe excitement for last fall's Dutton book, Returnto the Hundred Acre Wood," says Francesco Sedita, Grosset v-p and publisher. Mostof the titles are being developed internally by Grosset, under editor SamanthaSchutz; a few were originally published by Egmont, another Disney licensee thatpreviously launched a classic Pooh line for Europe.
Marketing support for the launch will include apresence in parenting and women's magazines and "mommy blogs," as well asin-store "Poohtiques" featuring a range of Pooh titles. "I feel like one of theluckiest guys in the world to be able to publish these books," Sedita says. "We'recreating something new from this great, classic brand."
Dutton has been publishing Pooh in the U.S. since thepublication of the original Winnie-the-Poohin 1926. Disney became the licensor in 1961, when acquired the rights to thetrademarks and copyrights from Stephen Slesinger, who had secured them fromMilne in 1931. In September 2009, after nearly two decades of lawsuits bySlesinger's family, the courts confirmed Disney's rights as trademark andcopyright owner and licensor. But the dispute continues, as family membersfiled suit again in November, acknowledging Disney's ownership of the rightsbut saying the company still owes them royalties. Disney licenses a number ofother publishers, including Random House, for various Pooh formats.