Kung Fu Panda Returns

Kung Fu Panda 2 opens on May 26, accompanied by a roster of traditional and digital books. Penguin Young Readers Group is publishing a junior novelization, 8x8 storybook, 6x9 reader, sticker storybook, storybook with recipes (a new format for Penguin), Mad Libs title, and an eBook edition of the junior novel. Other publishers on board include Dalmatian Press for coloring and activity titles, Ape Entertainment for comic books, and Palace Press for The Art of Kung Fu Panda 2.

Licensor Dreamworks Animation authorized a number of digital tie-ins for this film. “We’re dipping our toes into different ponds and we’ll see what works and what doesn’t work,” says Kristy Cox, Dreamworks Consumer Products’ head of publishing. “We’re one of the first studios to go digital with our ‘Art of’ book. It makes sense because our movies are created on the computer, so you can see it on the screen, just as the animators did.” Palace’s digital “Art of” edition will include video elements and an exclusive gallery of artwork curated by the film’s production designers. Meanwhile, iStoryTime is marketing a digital storybook app, Castle Builders an interactive cookbook app (including video cooking demos and movie clips), and Ape a digital comic book app. eBooks for the Nook also are planned.

House Foods, one of many KFP2 promotional partners, is pairing with Castle Builders to cross-promote the digital cookbook and its tofu; images from the film appear on 8 million packages of 16 House Foods tofu products. The tofu is featured in one of the recipes in the app, while the digital edition is being promoted on the KFP2 microsite, within the House Foods Web site.

Dreamworks’ next film, the Shrek spin-off Puss in Boots, due out in November, will mark the beginning of a new multi-property alliance with Simon & Schuster, similar to what longtime partner Penguin has been doing. (Penguin will publish Dreamworks’ Madagascar 3 books in 2012 and continue its tie-in program for Penguins of Madagascar.) The new partnership grew out of Dreamworks’ and Simon & Schuster’s collaboration on William Joyce’s Guardians of Childhood; S&S is publishing the book series this fall and Dreamworks is making a film based on it for fall 2012.

Shining a Light on The Green Lantern

In addition to Kung Fu Panda 2, Penguin has another boy-skewing film on its roster for this summerz: the June 17 Warner Bros. release The Green Lantern. Based on the DC Comics character, the movie stars Ryan Reynolds in the lead role. While the film has broad appeal, the books are likely to hit a sweet spot of boys aged 7-10, according to Francesco Sedita, v-p and publisher, Grosset & Dunlap and Price Stern Sloan.

The publishing program is consistent with many film-related tie-in programs of late. “We’ve been doing tighter programs across the board,” Sedita says. “We’ve been focusing on formats that will work in all the channels of distribution—mass, big box and trade.” For The Green Lantern, Penguin’s list will include two leveled readers, a sticker book, and an 8x8 novelization, as well as a paper model book that has been a strong format for the company lately and lends itself well to the film, according to Sedita.

Bendon will be publishing mass market formats for The Green Lantern. Other licensees include Mattel for toys, the Noble Collection for high-end collectibles, and NECA for a Green Lantern Projection Ring and other accessories, among many other partners.

In March, Warner Bros. Consumer Products announced that it was assuming licensed publishing responsibilities for sister company DC Comics, including for The Green Lantern.

Arrgh, Captain Jack is Back

More than 16 million Pirates of the Caribbean books have been sold since the first film, The Curse of the Black Pearl, was released in 2003, including more than 2.5 million Jack Sparrow chapter books, according to Disney Consumer Products, a sister division to Disney Publishing Worldwide. The junior novels for both Dead Man’s Chest (the second film) and At World’s End (third) were New York Times bestsellers.

Another six titles are on the market in conjunction with the fourth movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which debuts on May 20. They include a movie storybook from Disney Press, an Ultimate Sticker Book and a Visual Guide from Dorling Kindersley, and three activity books from Random House.

Other Pirates licensed products range from Swarovski jewelry and chiffon scarves to nail polish and LEGO playsets.

In Brief

Nathan Saves Summer, published by Raven Tree Press, has been licensed to Whimsical-Art.com for a line of wall art. Suppertime Entertainment handles licensing for the picture book, written by Gerry Renert and illustrated by Carrie Anne Bradshaw.... Kids Preferred will

produce plush and University Games will market games and puzzles based on The Gruffalo, licensed by The Sharpe Company.... VIZ Kids acquired the rights to Pokémon Black and White for manga, along with other merchandise, and to Mr. Men & Little Miss for graphic novels. The new children’s division had previously announced licenses for Mameshiba and Voltron Force.... IDW will publish comics and graphic novels based on both the classic and the soon-to-be-relaunched, 3D-animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, licensed by Nickelodeon.... The soundtrack of Lemonade Mouth, a Disney Channel original movie based on the book by Mark Peter Hughes, debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200.... Giochi Preziosi Group has licensed Arnoldo Mondadori Editore for Puppy in My Pocket Adventures novelizations, mini-books, stick-and-stack albums and coloring books for the Italian market.... The latest Kohl’s Cares book-and-merchandise program to benefit children’s charities features Llama Llama Red Pajama and Llama Llama Misses Mama books and plush, based on the characters by Anna Dewdney.... HarperCollins will publish a book based on Peep Squeaks, a collection of ducklings created by artist Leslie Ann Clark and licensed by Licensing Liaison.