Cherry Lake Publishing, a Mankato, Minn.-based educational publisher, has acquired Sleeping Bear Press from Gale, a Cengage Learning company. Sleeping Bear Press, which is based in Ann Arbor, Mich., is known for its illustrated state alphabet series of 50 books for emerging readers. Sleeping Bear’s 10 employees will remain in their Ann Arbor offices, as Cherry Lake has assumed the lease on the space.

Cherry Lake Publishing and Sleeping Bear Press will become two imprints of the Cherry Lake Publishing Company. Educational titles will be distributed through Cherry Lake’s K-12 distribution model, and trade titles will be available through all the wholesalers.

Sleeping Bear was launched as a regional press in 1994, and moved exclusively into children’s book publishing in 1998. In recent years, the company has expanded beyond picture books to include chapter books for middle-grade and teen readers. Most of Sleeping Bear’s 360 titles in print are marketed to both the trade and educational markets.

Cherry Lake Publishing was founded in 2008 by Minnesota native Ben Mondloch and has 600 titles in print. The company specializes in nonfiction books for the educational market, with its list aligned around the Common Core State Standards initiative. In an interesting twist of fate, Mondloch was employed by Thomson/Gale in the sales and marketing department when that company acquired Sleeping Bear Press in 2002. Gale was itself acquired by Cengage in 2007; Mondloch left Cengage the following year. Mondloch currently lives in Ann Arbor.

Mondloch told PW that Cherry Lake is headquartered in Mankato because he started out in his publishing career there, at Creative Educational, a division of the Creative Company. Due to several leading children’s book publishers being headquartered in Mankato, or having a presence there, the city’s infrastructure is receptive to such enterprises.

“Mankato is a comfortable environment in which to start a business,” Mondloch explained. Approximately 20 contract employees work for Cherry Lake. Mondloch is the sole fulltime employee.

In a statement, Sleeping Bear publisher Heather Hughes said, “Cherry Lake Publishing will provide us with direct access to the school and library markets and we will provide them with more visibility into the trade and gift markets. We are thrilled to be once again working with Cherry Lake’s President Ben Mondloch and the Cherry Lake team.”