Hazy Dell Press, based in Seattle and Portland, Ore., has launched a line of board books, with a five-book gift set and the fifth title in its debut series due out this month and a picture book coming out next spring.
“We started Hazy Dell Press with a simple goal: we wanted to create thoughtful, funny, and engaging children’s books that parents could enjoy as much as their children,” said Kyle Sullivan, co-owner and author of the Hazy Dell titles, who runs the company with his identical twin brother, Derek. “Through humor, thoughtful detail, and a catchy read-out-loud cadence, we hope to inspire exciting and engaged story time interactions between adults and children.” Kyle also serves as a writer and creative director for Cyclops, a Portland -based creative agency; Derek is the agency’s design director.
While Kyle handles the content side of the business, Derek pulls from his background in illustration to create the drawings. “Before we created Hazy Dell Press, I illustrated books for other publishers,” he said. “It was a great experience, but we really wanted to create a platform over which we had full control—from creative conceptualization to composition and marketing, and everything in between.” After a 2015 launch on Kickstarter that funded the first print run of Monster ABC that October, the company took off from there. The company followed up with subsequent releases including Goodnight Krampus in 2016 and Get Dressed, Sasquatch! and Hush Now, Banshee! in 2017. Next month, Hazy Dell Press is publishing Don’t Eat Me, Chupacabra!/No Me Comas, Chupacabra! and a five-book gift set.
The company’s name is a playful nod to the Sullivans’ hometown of Hazel Dell, Wash., and serves as the setting of many of their books. In addition to the stories’ inventive location, the duo focused on distinguishing their books from other titles in the board book space. “These books are much larger than most children’s board books, so they literally stand out on the shelf,” said Renee Yama, co-owner and marketing manager. “They’re 30 pages each and have a pleasing heft to them.” Hazy Dell’s books have been designed with thicker, sturdier pages than most mass-produced board books. While Yama points to the content’s emphasis on humor, which is designed to appeal to both kids’ and adults’ sensibilities, she added that “because there’s an educational aspect to each book, there’s substance there and not just fun for fun’s sake.”
The Hazy Dell Press Monster Series, which is aimed at ages one through seven, and aligns with Common Core standards, has been promoted at several consumer book events, such as San Diego Comic-Con, Emerald City Comic Con, Rose City Comic Con, and the GeekCraft Expo shows in Seattle and Portland, Ore.
“The parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents that come to these shows love nothing more than being able to introduce children to creatures and characters they love,” said Yama. “Events like these are a great way for us to interact with fans and receive direct feedback on what they think of our titles.” Among the comments the team has received from parents are that their child learned the alphabet from reading Monster ABC and that another child insisted on reading the Yuletide-themed Goodnight Krampus every night, regardless of the season. Hazy Dell has also participated in author/illustrator signings at book events, art shows, and street fairs across the Pacific Northwest, including the Oregon Bigfoot Festival, Portland Book Festival, Urban Craft Uprising, and Crafty Wonderland.
Hazy Dell will release its first picture book in spring 2019, along with the next installment in the Monster Series. The company expects to collaborate with new authors and illustrators featuring diverse perspectives and voices. “We’ve grown so much in the past three years, and we’re thrilled to continue on this trajectory,” Kyle said.