Promoting Girl Power at Random House
Random House Books for Young Readers is publishing a series of middle-grade novels tied to the new DC Super Hero Girls brand, aimed at girls 6-12. The franchise, developed by DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, and Mattel, focuses on DC Comics characters Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Bumble Bee, Poison Ivy, and Katana during their formative years, as they discover their unique superpowers.
“There’s no more iconic character than Wonder Woman, followed closely by Batgirl and Supergirl,” says Dennis Shealy, editorial director, licensed publishing, at RH, which has long worked with Mattel, DC, and Warner Bros. on other licensed publishing programs. “We’d been talking about doing similar sorts of things for a while when this came out,” he notes, stating that the company had added Wonder Woman into some of its younger formats featuring DC characters. “It’s the right thing happening at the right moment and we’re happy to be part of it. This is a series that will help girls build character and confidence.”
The franchise will launch in fall 2015 with original online content developed by Mattel, DC, and Warner Bros. The first book from Random House, focusing on Wonder Woman, will follow in 2016, along with graphic novels from DC Entertainment, TV specials and direct-to-video productions, and toys and other consumer products (including Mattel’s first-ever action figure line for girls). The publisher hopes to release two middle-grade readers per year, along with supplemental formats such as journals and activity titles.
The core novels will be written by an as-yet-unannounced “name author,” with the first titles hewing closely to the webisodes and later titles featuring more original content. “At first we’re keying off and expanding the story arc of the animated shorts that that they’re creating,” Shealy says. “The books are designed to complement and expand on that universe.”
Scholastic Bewitched by Little Charmers
Scholastic has acquired world English rights for preschool formats tied to Little Charmers, a TV series produced by Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana division and toy company Spin Master that airs on Nick Jr. The books will debut in the U.S. and Canada with storybooks, followed by other formats, potentially including 8x8s, readers, activity books, and e-books.
“The characters are funny, smart, appealing girls,” says Debra Dorfman, Scholastic’s v-p and publisher. “The art is so adorable, and the show has humor, magic, and friendship – everything girls this age look for.” The initial two storybooks, Meet the Charmers and Double Trouble, will be sold exclusively in Toys ‘R’ Us stores from fall 2015 through the end of the year, followed by wider distribution starting in January 2016.
The show has been highly rated on Nick Jr. and has seen increased airings since its January 2015 premiere. “This has long legs,” Dorfman believes. “It’s going to be around for a while.”
Some of the Little Charmers books will feature extras such as foil on the covers. “We think this property could hold a slightly higher price point,” says Dorfman, noting that the company has been following a similar strategy successfully with its slightly younger-skewing Peppa Pig titles. “Peppa has been amazing for us.”
Miffy Helps Mark Milestones
Milestone Cards has added the Miffy license to its line of Milestone Baby, Pregnancy, and Mini Cards. The product allows prospective and new moms to easily record milestones in their child’s life (such as the first time their baby rolls over) by selecting the appropriate card, adding the date, placing it next to the child, and snapping a photo.
“You take pictures of everything now, so the whole value of pictures has changed,” says Milestone Cards founder Gemma Broekhuis, who launched the company after creating handwritten cards and inserting them into milestone photos of her son Mikkel. “With this, the pictures become special again. People have written to us and thanked us for helping them create these memories.”
Milestone is based in the Netherlands, which is also Miffy author Dick Bruna’s home country. “We approached [Miffy licensor] Mercis and they were very enthusiastic,” Broekhuis said. “As we were looking through their image bank we were surprised by how well the images fit with the different milestones.”
The company’s original, proprietary line of products, which launched with Baby Cards in 2012 and expanded into Pregnancy and Toddler editions in 2014, is available in 33 countries and 11 languages. In the U.S., it is sold in such stores as Nordstrom and Barney’s. The Miffy editions were available first in Netherlands and Belgium and are now expanding into the U.K., Denmark, Singapore, and Japan as well as the U.S., where they made their debut at the National Stationery Show in New York earlier this month.
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