HarperCollins and ‘Beat Bugs’ Come Together
In May, HarperCollins Children’s Books released the first of its licensed titles tied to Beat Bugs, an animated series inspired by the music of the Beatles, with each episode based on a different song. “We have a lot of Beatles fans here at Harper,” said editor Clarissa Wong, who notes that the group’s famous tunes often touch on topics that resonate with kids, such as friendship. “The lyrics are imaginative and creative,” she added.
Harper released four Beat Bugs titles in May, with four more planned in September and two more in winter. Formats include I Can Reads, 8x8s, paper-over-board picture books, and board books, all hewing closely to the TV episodes, as well as activity books with stickers. The sweet spot of readership is ages 3–5, but the Beatles connection is likely to enhance the books’ adult appeal as well. “We think parents will enjoy reading them and enjoy introducing their kids to the Beatles’ music through the books,” Wong said.
The TV show, created by Josh Wakely, debuted on Netflix in 2016 and is represented for licensing by CentaIP. Target introduced a range of Beat Bugs licensed products, including toys, DVDs, apparel, accessories, and electronics, this month, with books also part of the mix.
Seagrass Goes Prehistoric with YOTTOY Tie-Ins
Quarto’s Seagrass Press imprint is publishing a new series by Pat Brigandi, called Dinosaur Pals, tied to a line of plush called Pocket Puppet Dinosaurs; Maine Diaz is the illustrator. The brand is owned by YOTTOY Productions, a plush maker for the gift market that is best known for its products connected to children’s books, from Mo Willems to Madeline.
Seagrass publisher Josalyn Moran said she reached out to YOTTOY after noticing the dinosaurs while shopping on the YOTTOY website, which she often does when she needs gifts. The first four titles, for ages four and up, are scheduled to release in fall 2017, spring 2018, fall 2018, and spring 2019.
The stories will put the five dinosaur characters in real-life situations such as the first day of school, with a focus on how they meet new people, embrace differences, and deal with emotions. The characters’ personalities reflect the real-life attributes of the dinosaur on which they are based, from the nature-loving stegosaurus Kayla to the rambunctious T-Rex Ty, according to Quarto Group’s director of children’s marketing Diane Naughton. “They’re fun characters and kids can relate to them,” she said, adding that the property “doesn’t scream ‘licensing.’ It’s a story first.”
Because of the tie-in to a giftable toy line, Quarto’s sales team is focusing more than usual on the gift market, using YOTTOY’s customer list, and is working with retailers to cross-merchandise the books and the plush in stores.
The Little Prince and Paddington Come to America
Two classic children’s book properties from across the pond are boosting their U.S. licensing efforts.
Licensing agent Licensing Works! has signed a group of U.S. licensees for The Little Prince, in anticipation of the property’s 75th anniversary in 2018. The products rolling out in fall 2017 and spring 2018 include infant apparel, blankets, and other items from Finn and Emma; infant and toddler towels, sheets, quilts, and other bed and bath goods from Little Unicorn; infant caps and blankets from Storiarts; calendars from Rizzoli; bags, socks, and onesies from Out of Print; bookmarks, mugs, prints, and other gifts from Culturenik; jewelry from Vince; fabrics from Riley Blake; t-shirts, posters, and bags from Litographs; men’s and women’s socks from Socksmith; wood products such as lights and clocks from G. Arts; and wall graphics from Walls 360.
Not much merchandise has been on the market for the past two years, according to Jill Collins, who handles licensing, retail partnerships, and promotions at Licensing Works! The agency is creating a special logo for the anniversary and is funneling some of the royalties to charity. U.S. master publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt also has anniversary plans for the book, which continues to sell two million copies a year globally, including 300,000 in the U.S. All told, there are 200 merchandise licensees worldwide.
Separately, Paddington Bear retained new U.S. and Canadian licensing agency representation in May of this year. Bravado, the licensing arm of the Universal Music Group, is charged with handling brand extension in both countries, thanks to a deal with the Copyrights Group, the property’s longtime global agent. The agreement keeps all Paddington activities under one roof, since French media and content company Vivendi SA owns Paddington (excluding publishing rights), the Copyrights Group, and Universal Music Group.
Parragon is introducing a line of coloring and activity books this summer and fall for the preschool TV show PJ Masks, under a license signed last November with Entertainment One. Simon & Schuster is the master publishing licensee for the property.... Lerner Publishing Group is releasing two series of early learning books tied to Crayola, with 10 titles scheduled for this fall and nine more for spring 2018. Simon & Schuster is also this brand’s master licensee.... Kids Preferred has acquired rights to The Rainbow Fish from RJM Licensing for a line of bath books and bath toys.... Titan Comics licensed the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine from Apple Corps for an illustrated adaptation of the film, timed to its 50th anniversary.... Dynamite Entertainment is the new comic book licensee for Elvira, through a deal with Queen “B” Productions and the Devlin Agency. Dynamite also has rights to produce merchandise such as board and card games, posters, lithographs, and trading cards.