Time Traveler Tours & Tales, a newly formed digital-first, multiplatform children’s publishing company headed by writer and educator Sarah Towle, has announced its first acquisition, In the Footsteps of Giants, an interactive treasure hunt set in Renaissance Florence and written by author Mary Hoffman (the Stravaganaza series). Footsteps is scheduled for a spring 2016 release.
Hoffman’s tale goes behind the scenes of the creation of Michelangelo’s David and is narrated by the artist’s fictional foster brother who serves as model for the famous sculpture. Children’s publishing consultant Emma D. Dryden of drydenbks is editing the project.
“I wanted to create a story-based quest through Renaissance Florence that evokes the feeling of seeing something so extraordinary as Michelangelo’s giant sculpture for the very first time,” Hoffman said in a statement. “Who better to do this with than a visionary imprint passionate about making its own unique mark in history, despite being surrounded by giants?”
Hoffman and Towle first met in spring 2014 when they worked as co-teachers at a writers’ retreat in Florence. Hoffman had expressed admiration for Towle’s Beware Madame La Guillotine, an interactive story-driven history of Paris for kids and teens that had initially been released as a series of mobile apps, a Story App Tour. (Madame grew into a suite of educational products in various formats between 2009 and 2014.)
When Hoffman pitched her the Renaissance idea during the writers’ conference, Towle became further committed to establishing a publishing company dedicated to making history exciting for kids and began solidifying the groundwork for Time Traveler Tours & Tales. In addition to Dryden, Towle’s team includes, among others, Dan Blank (WeGrowMedia), marketing and communications; Erzi Deàk (Hen&inkLiterary), rights and acquisitions advisor, and tech partner Bluespark Labs.
Though Towle is located in London, most of the TTT&T team works remotely from different cities Stateside. Towle explained how the group communicates. “We meet weekly as a group via Skype or Google Hangout, from Europe and various points in the U.S., and throughout the week smaller groups of us communicate via email and through a group work flow process app called Jira,” she said. “And those who can meet in New York when I’m there.”
Towle has been securing funding from a number of sources to keep her enterprise running and is planning to launch a new Kickstarter campaign to help finance Footsteps on May 19 at a celebratory event in New York. In the meantime, Towle and Hoffman will be publicizing their new partnership and project at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and the London Book Fair.