As at shows past, BEA 2014 is an occasion for children’s publishers’ to mark memorable milestones. Celebrating anniversaries this year are two companies—DK Publishing turns 40 and Charlesbridge reaches the quarter-century mark—and two picture books that have become modern classics: Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins and Guess How Much I Love You, in print for 25 and 20 years, respectively. Here’s a look at publishers’ plans for commemorating these events during the show.
DK Publishing’s 40th anniversary tagline celebrates “40 Years of Ideas,” and there clearly have been some good ones conceived over the decades. DK’s origins date to 1974, when Christopher Dorling and Peter Kindersley founded the company as a book packager in London. In 1982, DK became a publisher in its own right, and broke into the children’s market with a big splash in 1988 with its first titles in the Eyewitness series of photographic nonfiction books. Other highlights of the publisher’s children’s program were the signings of the DK Star Wars book publishing contract in 1997 and of the DK LEGO book publishing contract in 2009. (A fun tidbit about the second venture: in 2012, the billionth LEGO brick was featured in a DK LEGO book.)
To tout its anniversary, DK company has developed a yearlong, online promotional program providing resources for educators and parents to use DK releases in creative ways, including suggestions for tying the books into such seasonal themes as summer reading, back-to-school, and holidays. At BEA, booksellers can pick up a 40th anniversary tote bag at the booth (1529) and enter the “DK 40 Years of Ideas Grand Prize Trip to London” sweepstakes for a chance to win a three-day, four-night trip to London for two. The raffle (also featured on the DK website) is open to booksellers, librarians, and any others who work in the bookselling industry. In celebration of four successful decades of publishing, DK will host a Champagne toast at the booth today at 3 p.m.
The folks at the Charlesbridge booth (2950) are also making merry this afternoon, and invite booksellers to drop by at 2 p.m., when cake and Champagne will be served in honor of the publisher’s 25 years of independent publishing. In attendance will be author Paul Reynolds and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds, who will sign copies of their upcoming book, Sydney & Simon: Full Steam Ahead!
Over the years, Charlesbridge’s list has diversified from its nature and environmental roots to include storybooks, math adventures, beginning readers, and middle-grade novels. The publisher’s mission is to provide books for children that promote a positive worldview and embrace a child’s innate sense of wonder and fun. Its roster of authors include Jane Yolen, Eve Bunting, Pam Muñoz Ryan, Jerry Pallotta, and Grace Lin. In addition to the Reynolds brothers’ book, highlights of Charlesbridge’s fall list include Lola Plants a Garden by Anna McQuinn and two new board books by David McPhail: Pig Pig Walks and Pig Pig Talks.
Showcased at the Holiday House booth (956) is the 25th edition of one of the publisher’s strongest sellers, Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. What began as an experiment by Kimmel, to see if he could create a Hanukkah story along the lines of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, took on a life of its own after it was first published in the December 1985 issue of Cricket magazine with two-color illustrations by Hyman. In 1989, John Briggs, Holiday House president and publisher and a longtime admirer of Hyman and her work, published Hershel and the Hanukkah with full-color illustrations by Hyman.
Included in the 25th anniversary edition is an afterword with insightful notes from Kimmel and Briggs, recalling their relationship with the illustrator, who died in 2004. “I was overcome,” recalls Kimmel of learning that Hyman was to illustrate his story in Cricket. “Although I had been introduced to Trina on a few occasions, I never imagined she would illustrate a story of mine. I was thrilled at my good fortune.” “Talk about thrilled, “ adds Briggs. “We adored Tina’s art almost as much as we adored her, so as soon as we read Eric’s story, we rushed to sign up the book. Our contract with Eric was the first of many in what has proven to be an especially gratifying relationship.”
Candlewick has devoted a portion of booth 2857 to its celebration of the 20th anniversary of Guess How Much I Love You, Sam McBratney’s story of the deep and tender bond between parent and child, featuring watercolors by Anita Jeram. To commemorate the anniversary, the publisher is raffling off a Guess How Much I Love You gift basket, containing childsize Nutbrown Hare ears, as well as 20th anniversary chocolate bars.
Due in October is a 20th anniversary edition of the book, which includes notes from the author and illustrator. In a 2011 speech at the National Book Festival, McBratney praised both Jeram’s art and the design of the book, which has been translated into 53 languages and sold 28 copies worldwide across various formats, but credited much of its success to another factor.
“I have to tell you that in my opinion, the booksellers of America made this book what it is today,” says the author. “And I don’t just mean the initial big orders from major players in the business. I include the independent bookshops, who awarded the book the ABBY in 1995. The best thing about a book like Guess is this: I know that somewhere in the world a mum or dad will reach for a copy of something I’ve written and read it to the most precious thing they have in the world. That thought really pleases me.”