Phyllis E. Grann, who retired from publishing in 2011 after holding such executive positions as CEO of Penguin Putnam and senior editor for Knopf Doubleday, is trying on a new professional hat for size: children’s book author. Her new book, I Will Talk to You, Little One, is illustrated by award-winning children’s book author and illustrator—and longtime member of the Putnam stable—Tomie dePaola.
The project, Grann said in a statement, was inspired by the work of her late sister Mary, an early childhood educator. “Many years ago, she was working on her master’s degree at Columbia University when a study was released proving that parents who name objects to their newborns, before the baby can respond or even smile, change the way neurons connect in the brain and expose the baby to many more words, giving their child a head start that lasts for life. This book is my tribute to Mary and my gift to parents of newborns.”
The choice of illustrator was likely an easy one, as Grann and dePaola share a rich publishing history and friendship. “It was such a great pleasure to collaborate with my dear friend Phyllis, creating the art to support her powerful message,” said dePaola in a statement about their new endeavor. “I hope parents will take this book to heart and help their children begin their journey in life with the words and the love that will lead to literacy. My mother read to me every day, igniting my interest in books, art, and stories.”
On May 9, Grann announced that she had donated more than 250,000 copies of the title to City’s First Readers, which is an initiative of the New York City Council that features nonprofit organizations working in collaboration to foster the literacy development of New York City children up to age five. Literacy, Inc., the New York Public Library, and Reach Out and Read of Greater New York are among the numerous partner groups. The books will be given to families of newborns at 27 hospitals in high needs neighborhoods throughout the city during the discharge process.
I Will Talk to You, Little One was custom published by the Little Simon imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.