Universal Studios Consumer Products will launch a licensing program focusing on infant merchandise, ranging from layette and nursery décor to early development toys and daily-care essentials, based on Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s new Curious Baby Curious George brand extension. The products will feature artwork inspired by the new book series, which is for infants and is based on the look of the classic Curious George picture books but with some tweaks in color and design to make it appeal to parents of new babies.

"We’ve had an idea of doing baby books with George for many, many years," says Monica Perez, HMH senior editor. "His curiosity and love of fun fits naturally with baby books." Six titles will be released this year, starting in June. Most have a novelty element; Counting is a board book with beads, My Little Boat is a bath book and toy, and My Curious Dreamer Gift Set is packaged with a security blanket, for example.

Perez notes that the success of the Curious George TV series and licensed toys helped make the time right for a brand extension. Thanks to the TV show, HMH has already been able to expand its tie-in publishing program to a younger readership than the original picture books, such as into board books for toddlers.