‘Sneaky, Snacky’ Books from Candlewick
Candlewick Entertainment, an imprint of Candlewick Press, has secured global, all-language rights for books tied to a range of Educational Insights’ preschool board games. The first title will be based on The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game, which was released in 2010 and has been one of the top 10 bestselling preschool games in the U.S. for the last two years, according to the NPD Group.
“I first saw the game at Toy Fair in 2014, where Educational Insights had a beautiful stand,” says Joan Powers, group editorial director for Candlewick Entertainment and Walker Entertainment. “It turned out that two of my colleagues in licensing and promotions had noticed it also. It was only after we got in touch with Educational Insights that I realized the illustrator, Lucia Gaggiotti, already had two titles on the Candlewick list. So it all came together nicely.”
Educational Insights, meanwhile, initially made contact with Gaggiotti after admiring her work on a package of shortbread at Starbucks. “We loved it so much we reached out and found her,” says Lisa Gulli of Educational Insights. “This deal with Candlewick happened organically,” she adds. “We thought books would be a really nice fit.”
Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel is part of a series of six preschool board games featuring different characters, with each incorporating a “squeezer” that helps develop manual dexterity. The games also teach foundational skills such as following simple instructions, taking turns, sharing, and good sportsmanship, in addition to basic preschool educational concepts, Gulli says.
The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel, a tree-shaped, lift-the-flap board book focusing on counting and colors, will be published this September. “The book is shaped like the game and is immediately recognizable,” Powers says. “But it works whether or not you’re familiar with the game.” A second title, Shelby’s Snack Shack, will follow in 2018 with a theme of counting by twos.
HarperCollins Adds Paddington Tie-ins
HarperCollins, which has been the publishing partner for Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear books for 60 years, has signed a six-year deal with Vivendi to secure the global publishing rights for media tie-ins based on the character. First up are early readers, storybooks, and a novelization, as well as potentially other formats, for Paddington 2, a feature film from Vivendi subsidiary StudioCanal that releases this fall.
“We are so pleased that Paddington has made a successful transition from book to film,” says Suzanne Murphy, president and publisher of HarperCollins Children’s Books. “Together with our Harper U.K. colleagues, we are committed to bringing Paddington in all his wonderful incarnations to young readers, many of whom will meet Paddington through the film and through our tie-in books and, we hope, then go on to enjoy Michael’s classic novels.”
Harper plans to promote the Paddington backlist as well as its repackaged editions of the original stories. New Paddington publishing this year, in addition to the movie tie-ins, include an I Can Read edition of Paddington at the Barber Shop, a Paddington Storybook Collection, and a middle-grade edition of Paddington Takes the Test. A brand-new Michael Bond story, Paddington’s Finest Hour, releases in the U.S. in December of this year.
Vivendi’s Studiocanal acquired Paddington and Company Limited, the owner of all Paddington intellectual property rights apart from publishing, as well as its longtime licensing agency, the Copyrights Group Limited, in 2016. The first Paddington movie, released by Studiocanal in 2014, generated nearly $300 million at the worldwide box office.
Simon & Schuster Knows Who’s Boss
Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing is releasing four tie-ins for the DreamWorks Animation movie Boss Baby, which premiered March 31 and was #1 at the box office for its opening weekend. S&S also publishes the original Marla Frazee storybook and its sequel, The Bossier Baby.
“We love to support our books with the tie-in program,” says Valerie Garfield, v-p, publisher of novelty and licensed publishing. “We bid aggressively on this, because we wanted to have it on our list.” Managing both programs means that S&S can create tie-ins to supplement the original. In this case, for example, there is no 8x8 tie-in, typically a core licensed format, since the original is already available in hardcover, paperback, and board book formats. “The 8x8 would be overkill,” Garfield says. The publisher can also present the originals and tie-ins together in mixed displays and other cross-promotions.
Formats include a junior novelization, Ready to Read, shaped board book, and a conventional board book, Big Wisdom from a Little Boss, which has potential crossover appeal to adults, according to Garfield. “We know the original storybook had adult fans and parents who think it’s hilarious,” she says. In addition, Alec Baldwin, who voices the lead character, generated Twitter attention for his appearance supporting the film at Comic Con last year, and his profile has only grown due to his Saturday Night Live cameos.
Separately, S&S is publishing three tie-ins to the third Smurfs film, out April 7, including a movie novelization, 8x8, and Ready to Read. “It supplements our classic Smurfs program,” Garfield says. “It has a very different feel, but it hearkens back to the classic. And it’s getting a nice buzz because there’s a focus on Smurfette, and there’s a lot of interest now in strong female characters.”
The spring timing of both films, falling between the holidays and summer vacation, and close to spring break, is a plus, according to Garfield. “That timing works particularly well for us.”
Rapunzel Returns to Random House
Random House is launching a chapter book series, Tales of Rapunzel, tied to the Disney Channel’s new TV show based on the 2010 film Tangled. That will be followed by an all-original spin-off graphic novel series in January, authored by Jimmy Gownley, best known for the comic book series Amelia Rules!
In advance of the chapter books, Random released a novelization of a Disney Channel original film, Disney Tangled: Before Ever After, which aired March 10 and kicked off the TV series (debuting two weeks later), in February. The first two chapter books will launch in June, followed by a third in September. A guide to the series called Rapunzel’s World will also come out that month.
“The 2D animation style is truly stunning,” says Chris Angellili, v-p and editor-in-chief, executive director, licensed publishing, Random House/Golden Books Young Readers Group. “It’s perfect for publishing. It looks like a storybook.” He adds that Rapunzel has always been one of his favorites among Disney Princesses. “She’s a princess of action. She’s not sitting around waiting for her prince to come; she grabs her frying pan and takes action. She’s more of a modern princess.”
Licensor Disney has required any publishing since the 2010 film, aside from some preschool titles that took place inside her tower, to feature Rapunzel with the short, non-magical hair she had when the movie ended. “The exciting thing is that Rapunzel’s 70-foot magical hair is back,” Angelilli says, explaining that the restoration gives Random House more storytelling flexibility.
The show and tie-ins will feature voices from the film, including leads Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi, as well as many of the key comedic sidekicks. The books also introduce a new character, Cassandra, a friend and lady-in-waiting.
Cottage Door Signs First Licenses
Cottage Door Press, a two-plus-year-old publisher of interactive board books, has signed its first licensing agreements, with the Smithsonian and with Kids II’s Baby Einstein brand.
Although its founders came from licensed publishing, having served at Golden Books and Publications International (now Phoenix International), the company has focused on publishing its own titles. “Our goal is to try to elevate and innovate board books,” says Melissa Tigges, marketing manager. “We don’t want to become a licensing company, but our founders are aware of how well a good license works if you execute it well.”
As a result, when approached by the Smithsonian and Kids II, Cottage Door saw an opportunity to bring in some respected educational content, help raise its age range from 0–3 to 0–5, and perhaps move its impulse-driven titles out of the book aisle. “We would love to see our board books merchandised in the infant department or the toy department,” Tigges says. “Consumers don’t always think of going to the book department for infant board books, but if it was next to a cute onesie, they would pick one up.”
Four interactive Baby Einstein titles will be in stores this fall. “Kids II and Cottage Door seem very similar in terms of style, product quality, and vision,” Tigges says, explaining that both companies believe early literacy is a collaborative process between preschooler and parent. Kids II also owns other brands, including Taggies, Bright Starts, and Oball, all of which are under consideration for potential future publishing. The plan is to add six to eight titles per year across all brands, with a focus on Baby Einstein.
As for the Smithsonian, the institution reached out to Cottage Press before BEA 2016, wanting to extend its brand into books for preschoolers for the first time. Cottage Press will launch four titles with the organization—which allowed the publisher to create a new Smithsonian Kids logo based on its branding—in the fall. “The heft of the Smithsonian name, plus the images and information they have, gives us a lot to work with,” Tigges says. The initial list will focus on the moon, dinosaurs, the ocean, and the forest. Three to five titles per year are planned going forward.
Joe Journeyman Scores with Book and Puzzles
Joe Journeyman is an NFL-licensed book from YouTheFan, a sports licensing company that recently entered the world of publishing. The Where’s Waldo?-like Look and Laugh format hides Joe in detailed illustrated spreads tied to NFL cities and teams. The first version of the book features 16 teams and a single cover illustration, with a paper wrap customized for each city. A second version featuring all 32 teams, with localized covers for all, will release in late 2017 or early 2018.
YouTheFan is known for its Sportula, a sports-logo hamburger flipper launched in 2009, and its Stadium Views wall art brand. The Sportula has sold about seven million units to date, according to David Bazzoni, YouTheFan’s president. “That allowed us to expand into other things,” he explains. The book came about after Bazzoni ran into an old classmate, Jed Bruce, an illustrator who happened to be unemployed at the time. “He showed me his portfolio, which was this duct-taped binder with this incredible stuff in it.” Although Bazzoni did not have a particular role in mind, he offered Bruce a job.
Bazzoni then came up with the idea of Joe Journeyman, the only player in the NFL to play for all 32 teams. The main product line featuring the character is a range of puzzles, introduced in the fourth quarter of 2015. The first book, which is sold through independent book and gift stores, Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond’s website, and team stores, debuted around the same time.
“Jed does an incredible amount of research,” Bazzoni says, noting that each illustration is loaded with visual puns and local landmarks and that it takes 30 days per team to complete a spread. The first edition included just 16 teams because “the NFL was itching for us to deliver a product,” he says, adding, “Our goal is to be the very best in the world at search and find. No matter what age, you like your team, and the humor is fun for everyone.”
Lyons Press Combines History and Mystery
Globe Pequot’s Lyons Press imprint has a long track record of tying in with licenses from Outside to Orvis. But it is branching out into network entertainment for the first time with its latest license, the “Breaking History” programming bloc on the History cable channel. The deal was brokered by Screenland Literary Associates, which handles publishing duties for A&E Networks, History’s parent.
The first of four illustrated hardcovers, Breaking History: Vanished!: America’s Most Mysterious Kidnappings, Castaways, and the Forever Lost, by Sarah Pruitt, will hit store shelves in October 2017, with the second, Breaking History: Lost America!, to follow in spring 2018. The first delves into unsolved disappearances such as Amelia Earhart and Jimmy Hoffa, while the second looks at the mysterious ends of everything from ancient civilizations to criminal organizations.
“Breaking History covers history with a sense of urgency and a racing pulse,” says Keith Wallman, senior editor. “We thought that would be a great way to tell history in a book as well. The idea here is to bring history to readers as if it’s breaking news.” The shows rely on strong investigative work on cold cases, which is also exciting for readers, Wallman notes. “We can shed light on the exciting business of historical discovery that happens years later.”
The books will go beyond the programming. “We can capture what’s on screen, but this was an opportunity to join forces and bring ideas to them, too,” Wallman says. “We can include some vanishings that they haven’t explored.”
A&E has an active social media presence, and Lyons is working with the network to promote the books through those channels. Those types of marketing synergies are one of the reasons Lyons values its licensing relationships, according to Wallman. “It’s a great way to publish, with joint content and also joint promotion.”
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