When Islandport Press in Yarmouth, Maine, decided to publish storyteller Rebecca Rule’s first picture book, The Iciest, Diciest, Scariest Sled Ride Ever! (Nov.), on the joys of sledding, it seemed only natural to partner with Maine-based nonprofit WinterKids, which encourages children and their families to take part in outdoor winter activities. “WinterKids is a tremendous organization that is encouraging children to get active in a fun way that will produce a long-lasting positive effect,” says publisher Dean Lunt. “We feel that way about the benefits of reading and literacy as well.”
The partnership, which began on Thanksgiving Day, will continue through January 20, 2013, when Rule and the book’s illustrator, Jennifer Thermes, do a joint signing at the L.L. Bean flagship store in Freeport as part of its two-day Winter Carnival. Islandport will donate 10% of the net revenue from the book to support WinterKids’s programs. In turn WinterKids will use the book in schools throughout Maine to encourage sledding. In the next three years it hopes to reach 50,000 Maine kids from preschool through grade 7. “We hope that families and classrooms all over Maine enjoy reading the book together, and that they have a blast sledding on their favorite hill as soon as the snow falls,” says WinterKids executive director Julie Mulkern.
Islandport is taking an aggressive stance on The Iciest, Diciest, Scariest Sled Ride Ever! with a 5,000-copy first printing, the second largest that it has done to date. “We love the book,” says Lunt, who says that it’s the biggest children’s book that he has published. “We thought the artwork fit the book perfectly.” The press launched the book in mid-November at the New Hampshire Farm Museum in Milton, home of the Uncle Sam Sled – the world’s longest – which can seat at least 70 adults or 100 kids. Rule, who is also the author of several books for adults, including Live Free and Eat Pie! and Headin’ for the Rhubarb, both published by Islandport, will also promote the new book at storytelling events.
Typically Islandport, which is distributed to the trade by Bookmasters (outside Maine and New Hampshire), publishes 10 to 12 books a year and reserves half of its list for children’s: three or four picture books, a middle reader, and one YA novel.