Simon & Schuster will publish a series of books tied to Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, under a master publishing license with the Fred Rogers Company and Out of the Blue Enterprises. The preschool series, which airs on PBS Kids, is inspired by the classic series Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.

“Like Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, this show deals with pertinent and timely issues, but in a way that’s gentle and age-appropriate,” says Valerie Garfield, v-p and publisher of licensed and novelty publishing at S&S. “It deals with all the different sides of the emotions that can frustrate or stymie kids of this age and in a way that’s not heavy-handed or didactic. Other shows deal with emotions, but not for such a young audience.”

Garfield also cites Daniel Tiger’s appealing characters and songs among its notable attributes. “This is the whole package,” she says. “It’s fresh and new and really relevant.”

Simon & Schuster plans an aggressive publishing program for the property, with six SKUs on the initial list in January 2014 – ranging from very early pre-readers to a novelty book shaped like Mr. Rogers’s famous trolley – and plans for 20 titles by the end of the first year. The publisher holds rights for story, picture, novelty, activity, and coloring books, along with non-interactive e-books.

The company is working closely with another licensee, Jakks Pacific, to develop joint promotional activity to support both the books and the toys at launch.

The TV series debuted in September 2012 and has been rated in the top 10 among kids ages two to five for the last six months, according to Nielsen. The show’s main character, Daniel, is four years old and the son of Daniel Striped Tiger (one of the puppets on the original Mr. Rogers show), and lives in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

“We knew that the property had so many great qualities when we acquired it,” Garfield says. “But with the events of the last year, from Sandy Hook to the Boston Marathon, there are so many things young kids are dealing with, at least to some extent, and many parents are at a loss about how to handle it. This is a safe place for them.”