Peter Rabbit Goes Green

Beatrix Potter was an early environmentalist, raising funds for convervation and preserving land in perpetuity by donating it to Britain's National Trust. Now, more than 100 years later, the licensing program based on her characters is following suit. Penguin and its U.S. agent The Wildflower Group will offer new and current Beatrix Potter licensees the opportunity to use the "Peter Rabbit Naturally Better" logo on products with improved packaging, superior product formulations or other factors that make a positive impact on the world. "It's about being kinder to the environment, in many ways," said Diane Cain, director of consumer products marketing for Penguin Young Readers Group.

Starting with fall 2007 releases, Penguin's Frederick Warne & Co. imprint, which publishes the Beatrix Potter books and holds the licensing rights, will use inks, papers and printers approved by the Forest Stewardship Council, thus earning the right to use the new logo on its products. "We want our own category to be a leader," Cain explained. Peter Rabbit Organics, a line of natural foods that contain no added sugar, salts or trans fats and feature environmentally sound packaging, will be the first licensee to introduce "Peter Rabbit Naturally Better" licensed products in the U.S.

The impact of the program is potentially significant: more than 450 licensees worldwide market Peter Rabbit products to the tune of $500 million in annual retail sales.

DreamWorks Adds Reader's Digest to Roster

Reader's Digest has become the latest publishing partner for DreamWorks Animation; it will release interactive storybooks and viewers for Shrek the Third starting in fall 2007. It joins HarperCollins, Meredith and Kappa as the studio's key multi-property, long-term publishing licensees, with each on board from Shrek The Third through the next five DreamWorks films. Next up: Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar2.

"All our movies have a lot of hard and true stories underlying the humor," reported Kristy Cox, the studio's head of publishing, which makes them a good fit for books. "And we have plans to make them as franchiseable as a movie can be."

For Shrek, the company's strategy to extend the property's life beyond the films includes not just DVD releases but a TV Christmas special, Shrek the Halls, which will lead to holiday-themed merchandise; a Shrek Babies brand for infant products; and a Shrek Princesses brand for girls. The latter two are related to characters introduced in Shrek The Third. Publishing tie-ins will include HarperCollins's Shrek Babies I Can Read Book and Shrek the Halls jacketed picture book, both planned for the fourth quarter of this year.

BOZ's Books

David C. Cook is introducing books and toys tied to BOZ, The Green Bear Next Door, a faith-based DVD animation property from Exclaim! Entertainment, in Christian stores and churches. The first two book titles are God's World and MeBOZ's Big Book of Bible Fun, a 200-page, four-color tome with activities for teachers and parents to do with their children,and the BOZ Family Faith 'n' Fun Kit, tied to the themes of the fifth and latest BOZ DVD. Both books will be released in September, with additional titles planned for 2008 and 2009.

"BOZ is faith-based and it's very educational, so it seemed like a good fit," said Janet Lee, group publisher, learning resources, at David C. Cook, which has previously created licensed learning resources based on the Christian property Noah's Park. The publisher also will sell BOZ toys and games, such as plush and floor puzzles, and is working on a year-long preschool curriculum for churches.

Marketing support for the BOZ brand in the fall will include a 13-city live stage tour, a national web-based campaign to 200,000 churches and a national coloring contest, as well as its first direct-to-DVD feature film, A WowieBOZowee Christmas.

In Brief

Wonder Pets

Random House and Simon & Schuster will add the preschool animated series The Wonder Pets! to their respective Nickelodeon publishing programs in spring 2008…. Loew-Cornell will publish Eric Carle activity book-and-art supply kits for kids age three and up, under license from Chorion…. Penguin's Price Stern Sloan imprint will publish two tie-ins for ages 8 and up based on New Line's film Hairspray. Hairspray: The Novel and Hairspray: Movie Storybook will feature photos from the movie, and the latter will include a pull-out poster…. Thomas Nelson is the exclusive publisher of books and curriculum for Big Idea's The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything—A VeggieTales Movie, to be released this winter by Universal Studios…. Sterling signed a nine-book deal with Hasbro for game books based on the toymaker's Yahtzee, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit and Boggle brands; five of the books are for children….HandMade Group, the rights owner of Eloise, named DIC Entertainment its global licensing agent. Plans include toys, movie tie-in books, apparel and accessories for girls 4-8; a spring 2008 merchandise release will coincide with a live-action Eloise feature film. Simon & Schuster publishes the classic books…. HarperCollins Children's Books will release titles for children 3-8 based on the upcoming Transformers animated series, launching on Cartoon Network in January 2008 and licensed by Hasbro. Harper will release readers, 8x8s and activity books starting next spring…. Penguin will publish four titles tied to the movie Mr. Bean's Holiday, which releases in August. The Sharpe Co. represents the property for licensing….Kappa Investment Group, an affiliate of coloring book publisher Kappa Graphics, acquired an equity position in Bendon, a publisher of coloring, activity and board books, among other formats. Bendon's many licenses include Disney, Sesame Street, My Little Pony and NASCAR; Kappa is a DreamWorks Animation licensee…. Licensing agent SloaneVision brokered a deal with E&B Giftware to manufacture licensed, teen-targeted, handheld electronic scrollers featuring sayings from Chicken Soup for the Soul and Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul…. Warner Bros. Consumer Products licensed Mattel as master toy licensee for the more than 1,000 DC Comics characters…. At Licensing International in June, Scholastic won the 2006 International Licensing Excellence Award as Best Character Brand Licensee — Hard Goods for its Happy Bunny books, based on the property by Jim Benton…. Penguin signed The Wildflower Group as the new licensing agent for Mad Libs. The main objectives are the electronics and interactive categories; DirecTV is a recent licensee for a game on its new interactive Game Channel…. DK Publishing recently signed a deal for two Pokémon formats, an Ultimate Sticker Book and an encyclopedia. The property is licensed by Pokémon USA.