Nosy Crow, an award-winning children’s book publisher based in the U.K., is expanding into North America with the 2023 launch of Nosy Crow Inc.
The new company will continue to publish vivid, expertly designed, and delightfully written and illustrated books for infants through middle graders.
Nosy Crow team members John Mendelson, president; Allison Hunter Hill, editor; Avery Cook, marketing associate; and Ally Russell, marketing manager, chatted with PW about their hopes and expectations for the new Boston-based publishing venture, and offered some sneak peaks at upcoming titles.
What can readers expect from Nosy Crow Inc.?
Hunter Hill: Readers can expect to feel welcome! Our goal is for our readers to feel at home the instant they see a Nosy Crow U.S. book. Readers will recognize the creative joy and captivating design quality that make Nosy Crow books household treasures. It's our privilege to invite more readers into the Nosy Crow family by exemplifying what Nosy Crow U.K. already does so well—warm, inclusive, diverse, child-focused books—but with a distinctly North American perspective.
What can you share about the Stories Aloud audio program and its launch in the North American market?
Russell: These days, there’s a podcast for every topic and audience. The art of audio storytelling isn’t novel. It’s ageless. Stories Aloud is for the parents and guardians who’ve had a long day but still want to share a bedtime story with their little ones. It’s for those who are still learning how to read. It’s for all readers whose tote bags aren’t big enough to carry an entire library. We also want Stories Aloud to complement our books. You'll notice that the landing page is fairly basic. This is intentional. A simple landing page allows younger readers to better focus on the audio they're hearing.
Hunter Hill: Early literacy is about more than learning to read—it's about learning to love being a reader. Stories Aloud is made to complement and enhance how we (children and adults) engage with language and stories. For example, we have a gorgeous, musical audio collection that accompanies Ingela P. Arrhenius's Lift-the-Flap Nursery Rhymes. Children can hold the book, play with the felt flaps, and hear language and music rhythms working together, culminating in a truly magical, developmentally rich reading experience.
From board books to educational nonfiction, what are some shared characteristics across all the titles published by Nosy Crow?
Cook: When readers hold a Nosy Crow book, they are first going to recognize the incredible craftsmanship that goes into every title. Whether you are sinking into the hair-raising, unanswered questions of The Big Book of Mysteries, or meeting a triple-pancake-flip-acorn in This Is NOT A Unicorn, your book will have been meticulously designed, down to the tiniest felt flap and ribbon.
But readers will find the real soul of Nosy Crow in an overarching, deliberate optimism. The worlds inside are unrelentingly hopeful, despite engaging less-than-hopeful topics head-on: forthcoming Everything Possible (May 2023) celebrates LGBTQ+ identity while acknowledging the discrimination that still persists; Grandpa and the Kingfisher (July 2023) welcomes discussion of deep loss, all to demonstrate the warmth that exists in remembering. Nosy Crow characters uncover joy on the silliest, loveliest days, but also on the gray days and okay days that come in between, too.
What are a few of the biggest challenges you face as you’re expanding to North America? How do you plan to conquer these challenges?
Russell: There are many, but perhaps one of the biggest challenges is the crowded market. It’s full of excellent children’s books that delight readers, so we’ll have to create space for ourselves. We’re new-ish and our team is small, which means we’ll have to be resourceful in our approach to getting our books in front of readers. We also have the added task of establishing our brand. When readers see our gruntled crow on the spine of a book, we want them to associate our brand with humor, curiosity, and charm, and it will take some time to educate readers about Nosy Crow. However, we’re ready to tackle these challenges.
Tell me about the Nosy Crow Inc. team and the new community you’re building.
Russell: I think our shared goal is to create a harmonious environment where everyone’s ideas are considered and celebrated. I really appreciate that our team is highly collaborative and that everyone feels encouraged and empowered to speak. Marketing ideas, editorial thoughts, and sales strategies can come from any team member, and our books are stronger for it. How we approach Nosy Crow teamwork trickles down to our books. When everyone feels seen and heard—that’s community.
Hunter Hill: Our team has a focus on collaboration and respect. After all, how can we ask these things of our littlest readers without trying to exemplify the qualities ourselves? We strive to be good sharers and better listeners, and there’s a specific joy that arrives when coworkers start to become friends. I also feel it’s important to mention that we have a group chat entirely devoted to our cats.
Can you share a few highlights from your upcoming list?
Cook: I am really looking forward to the nonfiction series that we create in collaboration with the British Museum in London. Goddess, the first, will be out in September, and it explores the mythology and imagery of women deities throughout different eras and parts of the world. Dr. Janina Ramirez chooses engaging touch points from each figure's story to illustrate who these women were and what they have symbolized for thousands of years. As Sarah Walsh's art breathes further life into each portrait, readers will find themselves coming away with favorite pages printed into their minds, and a new literacy in faiths from around the world.
Russell: Office X-Files nerd here, so I’m very excited about The Big Book of Mysteries. It’s exactly the kind of book that I would have pored over for hours during my childhood. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I’m an adult and I’ve spent hours oohing and aahing over Yas Imamura’s ethereal illustrations while learning about new mysteries of the universe. I’m also very excited about Granny Came Here on the Empire Windrush. Patrice Lawrence’s story is tender, and Camilla Sucre’s illustrations are so warm and immersive. The book piqued my curiosity about a moment in history and made me seek out additional information. Picture books are wonderful in that way.
Hunter Hill: Can I share two? I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of The Wind in the Willows. It's perfect—every single detail by Kate Hindley is a delight, right down to the hilarious statues that adorn the lawn of Toad Hall, and the snug, arts and crafts style of Badger's living room. Lou Peacock's abridgement is meticulous, artful, and true to the heart and soul of Kenneth Grahame's original British classic. The book itself is just a beautiful object, with a cloth cover, foil jacket, and a ribbon page marker.
Speaking of classics, the picture book version of Fred Small's song Everything Possible is just luminous. I love folk music, and this true classic is coming up on its 40th anniversary. Alison Brown's art is painterly and warm, and is filled with characters of different races, ages, abilities, and family types—everything is possible for everyone. Reading this book gives you this amazing, cozy feeling of being tucked in.
Mendelson: I am a sucker for an unreliable narrator and, likely due to my somewhat obsessive personality, I’ve always been drawn to the structure and order of counting books. With the brilliantly funny picture book How to Count to One, Caspar Salmon, and Matt Hunt, I get all of the above! This book is filled with humor, both in the text and the art. Overall, it is just a brilliant bit of book making where each page turn will keep both kids and adults laughing throughout. And if you are not careful, you might just learn something!