A new HarperCollins imprint with an eye-catching name will take its first bow this fall. Due are the inaugural four titles in the Julie Andrews Collection, featuring books written or acquired by this venerated performer and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton.
No newcomers to publishing, the duo collaborated on the Dumpy the Dump Truck books for Hyperion and will continue that series under their new imprint, issuing Dumpy and the Firefighters in September. The Collection's first list also features another of their collaborations, Simeon's Gift, a book and CD package about a Renaissance musician in search of his muse, illustrated by Gennady Spirin. Rounding out the fall list are Blue Wolf, a novel centering on a Korean-American teenager; and Grateful: A Song of Giving Thanks, with lyrics and music by John Bucchino and art by Anna-Liisa Hakkarainen, packaged with a CD on which Art Garfunkel performs the song.
"This is something we've been dreaming of and talking about," says editorial director Hamilton of the venture. "Mom has always imagined ways to reach out to children other than through her films and theater group. HarperCollins was generous enough to support our ideas." "More than generous," interjects Andrews. "Everyone at HarperCollins has been wonderful to work with, and I honestly think this has been a labor of love for those on both sides. I am especially pleased since I published my first children's books [Mandy and The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles] with Ursula Nordstrom at Harper & Row in the 1970s."
Andrews explains that the imprint, which will release approximately eight titles each year, will offer books written by herself and her daughter, together and individually, as well as titles by other authors. Hamilton pinpoints the imprint's mission as bringing out "books that nurture imagination and celebrate a sense of wonder. We want our books to embrace themes of integrity, creativity and the gifts of nature."
Directing the Collection in-house is Katherine Tegen, editorial director-at-large for HarperCollins Children's Books. She describes her role as "in-house liaison. I am responsible for bringing their proposals to our acquisitions group and for trafficking the books through the art, design and production stages." Tegen says she and her colleagues were "very excited" when Andrews and Hamilton approached the company about launching their imprint and comments, "We are the first children's publisher to have an imprint with a major entertainment star. It is especially exciting in that Julie Andrews stands for quality, good values and graciousness."
And Andrews certainly has had decades of experience making books come alive for children, given her signature starring roles in such classic book-based films as Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, and more recently in The Princess Diaries and Eloise at the Plaza. "I feel very fortunate to have been part of children's lives," says the actor, singer, author and now publisher—ever graciously. "I feel as though this new publishing venture has somehow brought it all full circle."
Simon & Schuster
Fall will bring two new imprints from S&S Books for Young Readers: Paula Wiseman Books (see article on p. 78) and Libros para niños, a Spanish-language imprint that will issue translations of popular Little Simon and Simon Spotlight titles in a variety of formats.
This line launches in September with eight releases, which include paperbacks Estrellita (Dora the Explorer: Little Star) and Blue va a la escuela (Blue's Clues: Blue Goes to School); Muu. Beee. ¡Así fue! (Moo, Baa, La La La!) and Azul el sombrero, verde el sombrero (Blue Hat, Green Hat), board books by Sandra Boynton; and Lléname de gracia (Give Me Grace), a board book by Cynthia Rylant. All are translated by Argentina Palacios Ziegler.
At the editorial helm of the imprint is Robin Corey, the division's executive v-p and publisher for novelty, media and teen books. She explains that, though S&S had previously translated books into Spanish (and had published some books simultaneously in English and Spanish) under Atheneum's Libros Colibri imprint, "the Spanish-language translation program had died down for awhile. But at just about the same time that we began our Dora the Explorer publishing program [the title character is a bilingual Hispanic child], I became more attuned to the expanding American Spanish-language market. I had a natural affinity for this area since I had been a Spanish major in college and I was aware that the Spanish-language video sales for some of our licensed properties was growing. So, with the support and encouragement of everyone here, I decided to take some of our bestselling franchise titles and translate them into Spanish for the American market. The Libros para niños books will be marketed only in this country."
Corey is thrilled at the auspicious timing of the imprint's launch, noting that the very day that she and her colleagues announced the line at pre-sales conference in January, the New York Times ran a front-page article stating that Hispanics represent the largest minority in the U.S. and are the fastest-growing ethnic group. "It was just dumb luck," she says of the coincidence, adding, "I think the growth potential of this market is huge. The U.S. Census Bureau and marketers expect the Spanish population to continue to grow. This imprint is a wonderful opportunity for us, our authors and the licensors. All involved feel very passionately about Libros para niños, and booksellers—especially those in areas with large Hispanic populations—have responded very positively."
Corey anticipates that the imprint will issue approximately 10 titles annually after 2004, and that selections will continue to include tried-and-true backlist books and those starring licensed characters. "For now, we will not be translating frontlist books into Spanish," she says. "We want books to be bestsellers in English before we add them to Libros para niños."
Situated just outside of Columbus, Ohio, in the town of Dublin, Darby Creek Publishing is a brand new children's publisher, rolling out this fall with three hardcover titles. "Dublin is known as the birthplace of Wendy's," explains editorial director Tanya Dean. "Wendy's has provided food for the tummy and we want to provide kids with food for the imagination."
The company was founded last year by S. Robert Davis. He is the chairman of the board of Oxford Resources, which owns the assets of what was formerly Pages Publishing Group, the proprietary publishing group of Pages/School Book Fairs, whose imprints included Willowisp Press and Worthington Press. Darby Creek will publish library-bound children's books and will reprint some Pages backlist paperback titles, including Lurlene McDaniel's Six Months to Live and the three other titles in that series.
Darby Creek, according to Dean, aims to publish nonfiction books that are "on the cutting edge in terms of information and research, accompanied by top-notch photography and illustration." Due in the fall, the imprint's debut releases are Dinosaur Mummies: Beyond Bare-Bone Fossils by Kelly Milner Halls, which chronicles the discovery and unearthing of dinosaur remains; The Warriors by Joseph Bruchac, a novel about a boy who moves from the Iroquois reservation to the city; and Venus and the Comets by Erica Tamar, the story of a girl who wants to become a soccer star even though her mother is grooming her to be a supermodel.
Dean expects that Darby Creek will issue 10 to 15 hardcover titles annually. The house's books are distributed by Minneapolis-based Lerner Publishing Group, an arrangement that represents a first for that company. "In the 44 years that Lerner has been in business, we have never before taken on a distribution client," says president and publisher Adam Lerner. "We are largely a school and library publisher, and the people at Darby Creek know that market very well. Our trade imprint, Carolrhoda, is very strong in picture books and in middle-grade fiction and single-title nonfiction, and we felt that Darby Creek's list offered a perfect product mix for us. Lerner is unique in that we do all our own book production, and we were able to offer that to Darby Creek, too. It's a good fit."
Green Tiger Press
Originally founded in 1969 by Harold and Sandra Darling, Green Tiger Press has been dormant for years, but is set to roar once again. Faced with financial problems, the Darlings sold the San Diego company in 1986; it was sold to Simon & Schuster four years later. Meanwhile, the Darlings launched Blue Lantern Studio to design and produce books for other publishers. Among the books they created were the bestselling Good Dog Carl series written by Sandra Darling under the pseudonym Alexandra Day.
In 1992, the Darlings and their children started Laughing Elephant Publishing to produce and distribute gift books and paper products, and in 1999 they launched Darling & Company to publish adult trade books. Now based in Seattle, the family regained the rights to the Green Tiger name this year.
"We published so many wonderful visual stories for children under Green Tiger," Harold Darling recalls, "and after we sold the company, we always missed it and realized that that kind of publishing was still very important to us. When Simon & Schuster abandoned the trademark, we decided to take back Green Tiger—with great pleasure." He notes that the new Green Tiger program will entail reissuing books that had originally appeared under the imprint and commissioning new works. Among the inaugural titles are reissues of The Catalog by Jasper Tompkins, The Starcleaner Reunion by Cooper Edens, The Black Cat Book by Charles Robinson and The Teddy Bears' Picnic Cookbook by Alexandra Day.
Regaining the rights to their former books was not problematic, Darling explains, since in most cases rights had reverted to the authors. "We are very happy to be bringing back these great books," he says, "and we feel that reissues are very important at the beginning, since we want to remind people of who we were. A number of these authors were first published by Green Tiger, and they are very pleased to be with us once again."
Soft Skull Press
Brooklyn, N.Y.—based Soft Skull Press, a small independent publisher, has created a children's book imprint, Red Rattle Books, which debuts in November with The Saddest Little Robot by Brian Gage. Set on an asteroid, this fable about a robot who overthrows the tyranny of the larger robots features art by Kathryn Otoshi. Distributed to the trade by Publishers Group West, Red Rattle initially will release four to six titles annually.
Publisher Richard Eoin Nash says the new imprint "aims to satisfy the need for socially aware, nondidactic, sophisticated children's literature that's in line with the ideals of a new generation of parents. With Red Rattle Books we hope to extend the readership to children and their parents who already appreciate the existing aesthetic of Soft Skull Press. On our adult list, we basically publish books that are provocative, critical and offer manifold perspectives on modern life."
Another impetus for launching the line, Nash says, was the realization that a number of books on the Soft Skull list were popular with teenagers, "so we thought it might make sense to reach out to readers a few years younger as well." Nash sees his company's move into publishing for a younger audience as a natural, noting that since more than half of Soft Skull's employees are under the age of 25, "we are not that far away from being young adults ourselves."
New York Review Books
Making its first foray into children's publishing, New York Review Books will bring out the inaugural four titles in its New York Review Books Children's Classics this fall. The venture grew out of the company's successful New York Review Books Classics line, which just issued its 100th title.
Edwin Frank, editor of both lines, reports, "We realized that a number of the books we put into the initial series straddled the line between children's books and grownup books. For a while, we considered putting some books that are very much kids' books into that line, but we were afraid that they might not reach the readers. So we decided to begin Children's Classics and include books that will appeal to both parents and children."
The series, which will add eight books each year, debuts with The Little Bookroom by Eleanor Farjeon, illustrated by Edward Ardizzone; The Crane by Reiner Zimnik; The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily by Dino Buzzati; and Jenny and the Cat Club by Esther Averill. Asked about the criteria for selecting the books, Frank replies, "We of course choose books that we like. And we want to include writers from different cultures, since there are lots of kids' books that haven't made it into English or have but have been forgotten." The Children's Classics books have a uniform format and design, featuring paper-over-board covers with cloth spines.
Frank anticipates that this line, which is distributed by Publishers Group West, will do well in trade markets: "One hopes that grandparents and parents will recognize the books, will remember reading them and will want to pass that reading experience on to the next generation." He has not encountered significant problems acquiring the rights to the classics. "Some publishers are aware that they have these treasures in their vaults but don't know what to do with them," he comments. "They are happy when someone else comes along who does."
Smooch is the name of a new line of teen fiction from Dorchester, which publishes mass market fiction for adults in a variety of genre. The imprint's editor is Kate Seaver, who notes that the books will encompass "contemporary and paranormal fiction aimed at girls ages 12 to 16."
Seaver explains that Dorchester "is always looking for new ways to expand into different genres, and I have always been a huge fan of YA books. And our marketing and sales staffs noticed that bookstores were opening up more space in YA sections. So it seemed this would be a good niche for us right now."
There will be one Smooch novel released each month of the year, beginning this September. Initial titles include The Year My Life Went Down the Loo by Katie Maxwell, A Girl, a Guy & a Ghost by Sherrie Rose and My Life as a Snowbunny by Kaz Delaney. Launch promotions for the imprint include national advertising in both print and online media as well as marketing tie-ins with teen cosmetic companies (the line's logo features lipsticked lips). Smooch indeed.
From the town of Pine Bush in upstate New York comes word of the first book released under GreyCore Press's GreyCore Kids imprint. GreyCore publisher Joan Schweighardt explains that neither she nor Dave Cutler, author of When I Wished I Was Alone, ever anticipated that her company would publish the book. "Dave, a friend of mine who is a conceptual artist who has created cover art for many magazines, told me he had created a picture book and asked if I wanted to see it," she reports. "It was so beautiful that I sent it to my distributor, Client Distribution Services, and asked the people there if they knew a publisher that might be interested in publishing it. They fell in love with the book too and offered to partner with me and co-publish it." The book is due out in September.
Schweighardt doesn't yet know how many books GreyCore Kids will publish annually. "This is all very new to me and I feel as though I have a lot to learn," she states. One title that is already in the works is Cutler's next picture book, When I Wished I Was Perfect; a pub date has not yet been set.
Located in Peoria, Ill., is a new children's press called Bollix Books, which will release its inaugural titles this fall. Publisher Staley Kraus had previously worked in adult publishing before making the decision to stay home with her two children. "Now that they are eight and six years old, I realized I needed something else to do, so I decided to start this company," she explains. The imprint will focus on picture books and intermediate fiction and, Kraus adds, "will be geared toward the offbeat. I want to offer an alternative to mainstream publishing."
The initial releases are I Only Like What I Like by Julie Baer, which introduces a boy who discovers he actually likes more things than he thought he did; and Master Stichum and the Moon, a novel by Mickle Maher adapted from a Halloween children's musical that had a run in Chicago. Kraus plans to publish four titles in 2004 and anticipates that the company's annual output will not exceed six books. The line is distributed by Publishing Services Inc.
The publisher explains her choice of a name for the company: "Bollix means to throw into disorder, to cause confusion. And with the books I publish, I hope to shake people up by doing something unexpected."