Month9Books, a publisher of dark and gritty YA fiction and the Swoon Romance line, is targeting a younger audience with its new middle-grade imprint, Tantrum Books. The imprint, whose tagline is “Let’s make some noise,” focuses on speculative fiction “full of adventure and whimsy.” Aimed at readers ages 7-up, Tantrum will release four to six titles a year. Like the rest of the Month9Books list, the new imprint will be distributed by IPG.

Tantrum Books launches October 21 with three novels: Krystalyn Drown’s Tracy Tam: Santa Command, a fantasy told from the perspective of a 10-year-old Chinese-American girl who doesn’t believe in Christmas magic; King of the Mutants by Samantha Verant, centering on a mutant boy who goes on a quest to find his maker and stop him from exploiting mutants for profit; and Curse of the Granville Fortune by Kelly Hashway, in which a nine-year-old boy must right the wrongs of his ancestors in order to break the curse on his family.

Georgia McBride, who founded the Raleigh, N.C.-based company in 2012, said the new imprint marks a departure for the company, with its concentration on books she called “lighter and more fun” than the publisher’s usual fare. “I found myself rejecting a lot of great submissions because they didn’t fit in with our YA list, so I began thinking about publishing for younger readers as well,” she told PW.

McBride also had a personal incentive for starting up Tantrum. “I have a son who is seven and a daughter who’s 11, and I want to be able to share books that I publish with them and their friends,” she added. “I visit a lot of schools to talk about writing, and I was eager to introduce – and donate – books to teachers and librarians that fit the bill for independent classroom reading. That is personally gratifying to me as a publisher.”

McBride has already acquired books for Tantrum’s 2015 and 2016 lists, and noted that her three inaugural releases reflect the upbeat and eclectic nature of future lists. The publisher expects that 80 to 85 percent of the novels released under the imprint will feature boy protagonists, in keeping with her personal interest in hooking boys on reading.

“Teachers are always shocked when I say my son is an avid reader, since they are quick to say that boys don’t read,” she said. “I cringe when I hear that. If we give them books that interest them, with fun adventures and boy characters, I’m convinced we can get boys to start reading at a young age and change that perception. That’s a key mission of Tantrum Books.”