A Frankenweenie First

Frankenweenie: An Electrifying Book marks the first time Disney Publishing has done a “making of” title in digital form, as well as the first time it has used Apple’s iBook Author to create a digital movie tie-in. The book features original sketches, animated storyboards, interviews, a documentary on stop-motion animation, and other elements.

“We wanted to leverage Apple’s iBooks Author software to create a robust, interactive, behind-the scenes look into the making of Tim Burton’s stop-motion animated film,” says Yves Saada, v-p of digital media. “To do this, we partnered with Walt Disney Studios and Disney Music Group to compile interviews, images, music, and other items from their archives.”

The title will be followed up with a more traditional deluxe “making of” gift book, Frankenweenie: The Visual Companion, in February 2013. Other print tie-ins include Frankenweenie: A Monstrous Menagerie of Stickers!, Frankenweenie: A Novel, Frankenweenie: A Cinematic Storybook, and Frankenweenie: A Graphic Novel.

Who Wants to Be a Secret Millionaire?

When Wiley’s general interest group received a book proposal tied to a children’s animation property, it took the unusual step of turning it over to its business and finance division.

Debra Englander, editorial director, business and finance, went online to investigate the show, A2 Entertainment’s The Secret Millionaires Club, which features a cartoon version of Warren Buffet and airs on The Hub TV network and online. “I thought, this is sort of cute and interesting,” she says. “It’s very accessible, and Buffet is very involved in the program.”

One element that appealed to her was the wide potential audience. “Kids will read it, but it will also be a gift for high school students and graduates,” she says. “It’s good for people just entering the workforce who want to understand business and financial literacy concepts.

“There’s ongoing, global interest in Buffet,” Englander continues. Wiley has published many Buffet-related books, which Englander calls “a really strong category for us,” and often introduces new titles at the annual meeting of his company, Berkshire Hathaway. This book will launch in time for the April 2013 event.

Top That! Steps Into Licensing

Top That! Publishing has signed a global licensing agency deal with U.K.-based JELC to expand the Froobles, which debuted at Frankfurt last year, into preschool products. Twelve storybooks and 12 educational activity books are on the market in the U.K. and several other territories; they were introduced at Jo-Ann stores in the U.S. this fall. Froobles storybooks have sold more than 400,000 units globally in print, audio, and e-book form.

Top That! is known for supplying books for Disney, Warner Bros., and other companies through Scholastic Book Fairs, club stores, and Barnes & Noble. “We wanted to create brands for ourselves,” says editorial director Dan Graham. To that end, the company came up with a group of fruit and vegetable characters in 2010 and tested the concept with 500 kids in six U.K. preschools. Their ideas about character names and other attributes were integrated into the final version. “They were 100% interested in the concept, and we were deluged with pictures of their own characters,” Graham says. “We took the brand from there, and after 18 months of creative blood, sweat, and tears, the Froobles were born.”

Licensing plans include toys and games, electronic learning aids, apparel, food and drink, and arts and crafts.

B&H Kids Debuts with Two Movie Tie-Ins

The first two books from B&H Kids, the new children’s imprint of B&H Publishing (a division of LifeWay Christian Resources), are tie-ins to inspirational films.

Firebird is a picture book for ages 4-8 linked to the September 2012 limited release Unconditional. It is a physical version of a book that plays a central role in the film, about a writer and illustrator of children’s books. B&H’s adult division was working on Unconditional tie-ins for adults and brought the property to the attention of the children’s division. The movie is not for kids, but its message lent itself to the picture book format, according to Dan Lynch, acquisitions editor for B&H Kids. “We think it will also have life as a gift book purchased by adults for adults,” he says.

The second tie-in, Courageous Teens, is a spin-off of several trade books published last year by the adult division, including Courageous Living, The Resolution for Men, and The Resolution for Women, all tied to the movie Courageous (2011). Courageous Teens is co-authored by Michael Catt, senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church, one of the producers of Courageous. “We get a lot of requests from churches asking for material for this age group,” Lynch says.

B&H Kids has just contracted for another movie tie-in, a middle-grade reader based on The Lost Medallion, a children’s film set for a spring 2013 release.

In Brief

Random House is publishing six titles tied to the Disney animated feature Wreck-It Ralph, set for a November release, as well as four titles tied to The Secret of the Wings, the newest Disney Fairies DVD.... Egmont U.K. acquired rights to Rovio’s Angry Birds for children’s books in the U.K. and Commonwealth countries, as well as rights to publish books and magazines tied to Mojang’s Minecraft, an online game, for worldwide distribution outside the U.S.... Top That! Publishing also secured a license for Angry Birds, for creative play books for children ages 3 and up in the U.K.... New licensees for Scholastic’s Clifford include Hybrid and JCorp for apparel in the U.S. and Canada, respectively, and Young Scientists Club for science kits.... Target’s See Spot Save section featured 20 World of Eric Carle products in September, including stationery and bags from Innovative Designs, socks from PS Brands, and feeding accessories from Zak Designs.... The Collective and its U.K. agent, Rocket Licensing, granted Egmont U.K. the rights to create annuals for Annoying Orange.... Penguin has signed Carson-Dellosa for classroom bulletin board sets and bookmarks tied to Corduroy, Otis, Ladybug Girl, Froggy, Skippyjon Jones, Llama Llama, Every Girl, and Jan Brett’s The Mitten.... Lawless Entertainment licensed Galison Publishing’s Mudpuppy Press division to create puzzles, diaries, colored pencils, and stencils tied to The Little Prince.... Jim Henson Company licensed N-Fusion Interactive foriOS apps based on Pajanimals, its preschool series on PBS Sprout.... Fox licensed iStorytime for an Ice Age movie storybook app collection timed to the film Ice Age: Continental Drift....
Knockout Licensing has signed six new licensees for BOO: The World’s Cutest Dog, featured in two books from Chronicle. They include Calendar Holdings (puzzles and playing cards), FouFou Dog (luggage tags, keychains, pet blankets), Innovative Designs (school supplies and stationery), License 2 Play (disposable cameras), Mighty Fine (girls’ t-shirts and tops), and Paladone (novelties).... Mick Inkpen’s book and TV character Wibbly Pig will be featured in the picture book-themed virtual world Magic Town.... Rocket Licensing signs U.K. retailer Marks & Spencer for a line of sleepwear tied to Hodder Children’s Books’ Princess Pearl by Emma Thomson.