It is, literally, rocket science—for preschoolers. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky is currently enrolling toddlers and their parents in Baby University, a board book series by Chris Ferrie that uses simple explanations and bold pictures to introduce complex science concepts. The series kicks off this month with four books that underscore its mission “to treat babies like the geniuses they are,” and to introduce them to math and science in order to promote literacy in these subjects when they eventually encounter them in school.

The no-nonsense titles of the launch releases, each of which has a 50,000-copy first printing, reveal that Baby University gets right down to scientific business: Quantum Physics for Babies, Rocket Science for Babies, General Relativity for Babies, and Newtonian Physics for Babies. Ferrie, who has a doctorate in mathematical physics and currently teaches at the University of Technology Sydney in Australia, explained that his own four children, whose ages range from four months old to seven, were the catalyst for Baby University.

“I certainly would not have written the books if I weren’t a father,” he said. “They are entirely inspired by the desire to convey my work and passion to my children.” Ferrie asserted that the value of introducing young children to concepts in science and technology isn’t debatable, but rather “a necessity. We know the importance of this knowledge to everyday life and jobs. I trust that if I work to the best of my ability to give my kids as many skills as possible, from social to intellectual to technical, positive outcomes will follow.”

Ferrie originally self-published the series’ debut titles, and was “pleasantly surprised with the response to the books.” He noted that he was approached by several publishers and agents interested in Baby University, but opted to sign on with Sourcebooks “because their interests overlapped the most with mine. I went with a publisher over continuing to self-publish because, although self-publishing is now easy to get into, the options and avenues for wider distribution are quite limited.”

For Kelly Barrales-Saylor, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky’s editorial director of nonfiction, Ferrie’s series filled a gap in her list—and the marketplace. “One of the things I’d wanted to do for a long time was publish books on STEM subjects for really young ages, and I had been trying to find the right entry point,” she said. She had been contemplating creating an original series, but changed her mind when she found Ferrie’s books online. “I said, ‘He’s really got something here!’,” she recalled. “But I knew that Chris didn’t have the vehicles to make the books look the way they needed to, or to find the distribution they needed.”

A phone call to Australia confirmed the editor’s instincts. “Within five minutes, I realized that Chris is not only a brilliant scientist, but is very funny,” Barrales-Saylor said. “He told me that he had more ideas for books, but it had been difficult to do them while dealing with the back-end details of publishing. So I said, ‘We need to work together!’ and the two of us immediately started brainstorming.”

Although the first Baby University books were originally scheduled to pub next fall, what Barrales-Saylor calls the accounts’ “overwhelmingly positive response” to the pre-pub announcement of the series persuaded Sourcebooks to scramble to get them out this month. “I was, honestly, a bit worried that the series was kind of risky, since there isn’t much that is this specific out there,” Barrales-Saylor admitted. But she said the feedback was positive and the preorders were strong; “we had buyers saying, ‘We need the books now!’ So we had all hands on deck in-house to get the first books flipped around from the self-published versions. The originals were great, but we added some features to make them more baby- and market-friendly.”

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky is launching the series with national print and online promotion, including a social networking push and targeted outreach to parenting media. Nine additional titles are currently planned, including three new books in July, in October, and in January 2018.

And, Ferrie hinted, after they ace the original Baby University curricula, accelerated toddlers just may be able to graduate to another learning level: “I definitely have a few more ideas—and also, the reading level of the books seems to be growing with my children. So definitely be on the lookout for more!”

Quantum Physics for Babies by Chris Ferrie. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $9.99 May 978-1-4926-5622-7

Rocket Science for Babies by Chris Ferrie. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $9.99 May 978-1-4926-5625-8

General Relativity for Babies by Chris Ferrie. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $9.99 May 978-1-4926-5626-5

Newtonian Physics for Babies by Chris Ferrie. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $9.99 May 978-1-4926-5620-3