Penguin to Publish ‘Ella the Elephant’ Tie-Ins

DHX Brands and its licensing-agency division Copyright Promotions Licensing Group have signed Penguin Young Readers Group as the publishing licensee for the preschool TV series Ella the Elephant, based on the books by Carmela and Steven D’Amico. The initial list, launching in fall 2015 under the Grosset & Dunlap imprint, will include two 8x8s and one leveled reader, all based on episodes, as well as a sticker book, retail priced from $3.99 to $6.99.

“The show is beautiful, and the storytelling lent itself to our younger formats,” says Lori Burke, executive director of licensing acquisitions and media, Penguin Random House. “We also loved that Ella was already rooted in picture books, and that it’s different from anything else we have on our preschool list. So it ticked off a lot of boxes.” The show’s high ratings on Disney Junior – a platform that is driving strong sales for other licensed book programs from Penguin, such as Octonauts – was also a draw. “We find that a highly rated series on a well-promoted TV platform, like Disney Junior, really makes people look for the books.”

One or two books per season are likely to follow the first four Ella titles. “We’re offering retailers a little bit of everything in terms of format diversity, and it gives us a platform to build from in future seasons,” Burke says.

National Geographic Celebrates National Park Centennial

The National Geographic Society has been a friend to the National Park Service since before the NPS was founded in 1916. Then-editor of National Geographic magazine, Gilbert Grosvenor, joined 14 other influential men on a 1915 expedition to the Sierra Nevada mountains organized by National Parks head Stephen Mather, who wanted to drum up support for a cohesive National Park Service. After the trip, Grosvenor became a key proponent, even helping write the legislation that led to the establishment of the NPS. So it is fitting that the Society is marking the NPS’s 2016 centennial celebration with editorial content in the magazine, television shows, expeditions, and books.

National Geographic Kids plans to publish four titles in February 2016, including a fiction title in conjunction with the National Park Trust, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the National Parks and turning kids into the park stewards of the future. The Trust’s mascot, Buddy Bison, who is featured in educational programs and embodied in plush toys sold in National Park gift shops, will star in the title, Buddy Bison’s Yellowstone Adventure. Aimed at four- to eight-year-olds, the book “is very National Geographic,” says senior editor Erica Green. “It will have character illustrations on top of a photographic background, and very rich back matter.” The latter will include current and historical facts about the park system, maps, and information on how to protect the parks.

The other three books include an extensive update of The National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide USA, first published in 2012; a standalone Junior Ranger activity book with crosswords and other activities featuring National Park content; and a National Park-themed title in the Funny Fill-Ins series.

Llama Llama Heads to Hollywood

Genius Brands International has signed up to create entertainment vehicles and consumer products tied to Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama. “It’s a terrific brand, not only in the quality of the storytelling, but the artwork as well,” says Amy Moynihan Heyward, GBI’s president. “We love what Anna has done with it, and we saw this as a big opportunity to tell stories beyond the printed books.”

Plans include all forms of media, from music recordings to long- and short-form animation, distributed globally through both traditional and digital channels. A holiday TV special is being considered as the first release. Merchandise, including toys, apparel and accessories, bedding, and snacks, is expected to reach the market in 2016 to coincide with the launch of the entertainment.

“We were looking for a meaningful way to expand the readership of Llama Llama, and TV is a natural extension,” says Lori Burke, Penguin’s executive director of licensing acquisitions and media. Penguin Young Readers publishes the books, which have 9.4 million copies in print to date. “We’ll be able to continue reaching new fans through the books, and now also through TV.” She adds that GBI was attractive as a partner in part because it shared Dewdney’s and Penguin’s vision for the property. “They were great at explaining the process to us, and they wanted to work closely with the author.”

“Anna has thoughts down to who is the voice of Llama Llama,” Heyward says. “She’ll be greatly involved all along the way.”

In Brief

Macmillan Children’s Books U.K. secured publishing rights to four books under the Little Legends brand, created by author-illustrator Tom Percival and Made in Me, a digital media company and distributor of e-books. The first book will launch simultaneously in February 2016 as a digital book in the Me Books app, a physical paperback, and an e-book.... Random House is releasing the first book tied to Wild Kratts, licensed by Kratt Brothers Company and 9 Story Media Group. The title is part of the Step into Reading program.... Simon & Schuster is releasing four titles tied to the DreamWorks film Home, which premieres in theaters March 27, based on the book The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex.... Bendon acquired the license for Power Rangers Dino Charge, licensed by Saban Brands, for coloring and activity books, stickers, and puzzles. The company is also moving further into the craft category, focusing on a slightly older demographic, with the Lisa Frank and Glamour Girl brands. The latter was created by Australian publisher Hinkler Books.... Encyclopaedia Britannica and its agent JRL Group licensed Great Big Canvas for a series of wall art and canvas prints featuring EB images and illustrations.... Titan Books is publishing a series of Adam Christopher-penned original mystery novels tied to the CBS show Elementary.... Scholastic Media announced its first group of licensees tied to Sony Pictures’ October 2015 Goosebumps movie; they include Berkshire, C-Life, and Cotton On for apparel and accessories, Rasta Imposta for costumes, Cosmic Forces, GameMill, and Outset Media for digital and physical games, GB Eye, Katalyst, and Trends International for posters and stationery, for payment cards, and SRM Idea Lab for novelties. Scholastic will release five movie tie-in books as well as audiobooks.

Painting Lulu, a marketer of augmented reality coloring books, signed Perpetual Licensing as its consultant to secure new acquisitions.... The World of Eric Carle, licensed by the Joester-Loria Group, is being featured on cereal boxes at Whole Foods, under the retailer’s 365 Everyday Value private label.... is launching fine art prints featuring the work of author-illustrator Todd Parr, licensed by Suppertime Entertainment.... Hasbro has renewed its licensing partnership with comics publisher IDW, which has been ongoing for 10 years.... Activision licensed Crayola for Skylanders augmented-reality coloring books and products under the former’s Color Alive brand.... Pedigree Books will publish annuals tied to Pop Cap’s interactive game Plants vs. Zombies and Moose Toys’ Shopkins, represented by Bulldog Licensing in the U.K. Meanwhile, IglooBooks will release titles tied to the London Taxi Company, also licensed by Bulldog.... Parragon is expanding its Disney license into Denmark, Norway, and Sweden this spring, starting with activity books, board books, and hardback storybooks, all with value-added features.... Sesame Workshop and Put Me in the Story introduced a new personalized app, What Makes You Giggle, available in the iTunes Store. The title is also available as a personalized print book.