Curious George may be a septuagenarian, but no one would know it from the CuriousGeorge.com Web site launched today. The popular monkey is the first of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s children’s book characters to be the focus of a multi-platform, digital approach – involving a Web site, apps, books, and games – that ties into the company’s education business yet appeals to consumers. The new site provides content for preschool up through kindergarten-aged children with audio e-books, themed activities, and interactive games to develop early literacy, math, and science skills. Unlike the previous Curious George site geared to booksellers, this one sells direct to parents and teachers.
But the Web site is only one piece of Curious George’s consumer-oriented makeover. Building on the success of the Curious George at the Zoo app, which was recently inducted into the App Store Hall of Fame, HMH launched a free Curious Reader app for iPad, with a curated collection of Curious George picture books with synced audio narratives and links to games and activities on CuriousGeorge.com. A new Curious About app series of six educational games for the iPhone and iPad is also slated to release this month.
The changed approach to Curious George reflects other changes at HMH. It introduced a new logo late last year to demonstrate a new start to the company, which restructured in 2012. “In many ways, Curious George’s transformation mirrors HMH’s own,” said Cheryl Toto, senior v-p of Content and Product Innovation. “We must remain true to what makes George so beloved by our readers, but leverage digital platforms to reach new audiences.”
HMH, which offers multi-platform tools for K-12 education, plans to use Curious George as a model for delivering digital and multi-platform content based on other storybook assets and characters to consumers. No time frame has been given yet for the release of revamped platforms for other characters. Last week the company announced the appointment of Mary Cullinane, executive v-p of corporate affairs, to chief content officer to lead the company’s product innovation and incubation group.