Quarto Adds Wee Gallery for the Wee Ones

Quarto’s QEB Publishing imprint is launching a line based on the Wee Gallery design brand: two slide-and-play board books, two cloth books, and two activity books for children up to 5. The books’ author is graphic designer Surya Pinto, who in 2003 founded Wee Gallery with her husband David Pinto; the Florida studio sells art cards, greeting cards, and tiny activity books, and has a handful of licensees that produce products such as ceramics, fabrics, rugs, and throws.

Zeta Jones, the U.K.-based group publisher of four children’s imprints at Quarto, first saw the property at the Top Drawer gift show in London. “It was lovely,” she said. “It’s very aesthetically pleasing to adults, and the high contrast and bold graphics really appeal to the babies. The black-and-white will really help us stand out in the board book section, which is full of color.”

The books represent a number of firsts for QEB. It is the first time it is producing books for babies, and the first time it has included cloth books in its portfolio. Wee Gallery is also the imprint’s inaugural license. “I like it because it’s not a big license,” Jones said. “We can bring an original brand to market and help build it up. This is a husband and wife team who are really passionate about the product, they have bags of energy, and they’re doing everything that can to grow the brand. At the same time, they were looking at doing books, but didn’t know how, so it was perfect timing, really.”

After the initial introduction in the U.S. and U.K. this month, QEB will add two more slide-and-plays and two sound books in the fall, and expects to expand the program further in 2017.

Parragon Mines YouTube for Little Baby Bum

Parragon is moving into books for infants with its new global license for Little Baby Bum, a fairy tale-inspired YouTube series represented by Surge Licensing. “For us, this is a really important acquisition. It fit a niche we were looking for, since we haven’t had much in the 0-2 age bracket for licensed product,” said Amy Jarashow, Parragon’s licensing director for North America. “The reach of the fan base is enormous. It has a crazy number of subscribers.” The property boasts 3.4 million YouTube subscribers and 14 million daily views. “We also like their approach to content, with two new episodes posted each week,” Jarashow added. “And it’s adorable.”

Little Baby Bum is Parragon’s first license from the digital realm. “Content is coming from all places these days,” said Jarashow, noting that the company continues to work with the likes of Disney, Nickelodeon, and Mattel. “We look for content wherever good content is coming from, and digital is part of that.” The first list will likely include traditional activity-based formats for younger children, such as lift-the-flap board books, but some digital elements are possible in the future. “The kids are already technologically advanced, since they’re watching it on YouTube, so we’ll look to expand on that platform,” Jarashow explained.

Parragon also has a new North American license with eOne for the preschool TV show Peppa Pig. It will produce coloring, sticker, and activity books, along with some tinned sets and gifts. “For a book to be a hit, even if it’s based on the best property, it has to have that emotional connection for the child,” Jarashow said. “Peppa’s creators and brand owners have done a great job of keeping her relevant and establishing that emotional connection.”

Both licenses will debut in the fall, representing a very fast turnaround between license-signing and launch. “We’re working to make improvements to the time it takes to get to market, without sacrificing the quality or innovation,” Jarashow reported.

Pan Macmillan, Sourcebooks Sign on to Little Legends

Pan Macmillan signed a global license with digital producer Made in Me for four Little Legends chapter book titles by illustrator Tom Percival. The first two books, The Spell Thief and The Great Troll Rescue, came out this spring – simultaneously with the release of e-books and a gaming app from Made in Me – with the third and fourth to follow. Sourcebooks is rolling out all four books in the U.S. market.

“We do very well with re-told fairy tales or fairy tale mash-ups,” said Steve Geck, editorial director of children’s books at Sourcebooks, citing the Fairy Tale Reform School series for middle schoolers, by Jen Calonita, and Spelled by Betsy Schow, for teens. “We were looking for a chapter book series in a similar vein.” He added that Sourcebooks has had previous success with a number of projects acquired from Pan Macmillan. “We also look for properties with platforms from which we can build, so this was a really good fit for us,” he said, citing Little Legends’ website, along with the e-book and game. “It already had a lot of components that were very appealing.”

“Our direct-to-consumer platform helped sell it,” agreed Eric Huang, development director at Made in Me. “It’s easier for publishers to sign up if you already have a platform to reach consumers.” Made in Me, the author, and the publishers are promoting the books and the franchise on social media as well.

New Horizons: Noodle & Boo Launches Your Buddy Boodles

Noodle & Boo, a decade-old marketer of natural skincare products for babies and their mothers, is expanding into children’s books with the launch of a publisher, Purposeful Goods, and a character, Your Buddy Boodles. The first three books, We’re Having a Baby, Being Adopted Is Super-Duper Special, and What Does a Family Look Like?, all written by Noodle & Boo founder Christine Burger and illustrated by Frank Endersby, will launch in June. Let’s Be Friends will release in the fall, followed by later titles on divorce and death.

“Your Buddy Boodles is a good launchpad to start a conversation on these difficult topics, like adoption or non-traditional families,” Burger explained. “We want to be the place families can go to help bring up these issues, and serve as a catalyst for them to talk about it.”

Both the cosmetics firm and the publisher share a charitable component. “The mission of both Noodle & Boo and Your Buddy Boodles is to bridge the gap for kids who don’t have parents to take care of them,” Burger said. A portion of all Noodle & Boo sales go to five charities the company supports, while Purposeful Goods has partnered with First Book to sponsor a leveled reading program in San Francisco.

There are also business synergies; Noodle & Boo’s 100 sales reps and eight showrooms will handle distribution of the books to the high-end gift and department stores where the cosmetics line is sold, while Bookmasters is distributing to the book trade.

“Everybody needs a buddy some time,” Burger said. “Your Buddy Boodles is a safe character who can be a buddy for every child.”

Toy Fair Highlights New Mad Libs, Haynes Products

Two new book-based toy products – one based on Mad Libs and the other tied to Haynes’ technical guides – were being exhibited at Toy Fair in February.

The Mad Libs Flip ‘n’ Check is a spiral-bound activity game with a clear dry-erase sheet, which allows single users to play Mad Libs on their own. The reader slides a sheet of paper asking for the parts of speech under the clear plastic, fills in the blanks, then flips the paper over to see the words inserted into the story.

Flip ‘n’ Check was invented by Howard Wexler, creator of Connect 4, who donated the idea to the Teen Entrepreneur Boot Camp at Stuyvesant High School in New York City, according to Pam Chmiel, president of Flip ‘n’ Check Activity Games and head of the school’s entrepreneurship program. The students handled everything from creating the business plan and putting together the launch press release, to writing the story and helping design the graphics. They visited Mad Libs publisher and licensor Penguin to learn about the publishing process and how to incorporate a licensed property into the product. The program pays a royalty to Penguin for each sale, and is considering adding other licenses to the product line.

Mad Libs Flip ‘n’ Check has been sold through retailers such as Learning Express and Zulily and received a positive response at Toy Fair, Chmiel reports.

Meanwhile, a company called Worx Toys, founded by Paul Roberts, introduced a line of book-and-toy vehicles, including fire trucks, helicopters, motorcycles, and space shuttles, each of which includes a 34-page Official Kids Manual under the Haynes brand. The books are story-based, conveying basic knowledge about the components of each vehicle and serving as a springboard for discussion. Kids receive a “certification” at the end of each book, just as adults do when they complete one of Haynes’ technical and repair manuals. Worx developed the content, under license from Haynes.

In Brief

North American Bear introduced its first soft toys based on the books of Todd Parr, starting with Doggy Kisses 123 and Animals in Underwear ABC, at Toy Fair.... Egmont introduced a new book series under license from Disney/Lucasfilm called Star Wars: Adventures in Wild Space. The first title, The Escape, was released as a £1 World Book Day title; two other titles, The Snore and The Nest, were released simultaneously at retail. The series includes new characters that live in the period between the films Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: A New Hope.... North South Books and RJM Licensing signed MindWare for a line of Rainbow Fish educational activity books, toys, and games.... Mongoose Press, a publisher of books on chess and other board games, signed a license with Boy Scouts of America.... Macmillan/Imprint will publish two young adult novels based on The X-Files, under license from 20th Century Fox, that will serve as origin stories for the characters Mulder and Scully, respectively.... Random House is expanding its Wild Kratts! series, adding 12 titles to the initial four readers, including a Little Golden Book and deluxe 8x8s with stickers. The PBS Kids series is licensed by The Kratt Brothers Company.... Hal Leonard developed an instructional book on the Loog method of learning guitar, under license from Loog Guitars, a line of small, three-string instruments that kids and parents build together.... Bendon Publishing has added The Elf on the Shelf to its list of licensed coloring and activity titles and craft items.... Hasbro granted IDW the rights to produce comic books based on the classic toys ROM: SpaceKnight and The Micronauts; the latter will include a story tied to the classic Action Man toys.

Viz Media is releasing a cookbook inspired by Bee and PuppyCat!, a web-based animated series created by Natasha Allegri and licensed by Frederator. Easy Eats: A Bee and Puppycat Cookbook will debut this summer.... Cartoon Network extended IDW’s rights for The Powerpuff Girls comics to include titles based on the new TV series. Meanwhile, Oni Press’s first Rick and Morty comic, based on the Cartoon Network show, hit the New York Times bestseller list.... The Queen’s Treasures, a collectible doll company, licensed the Little House on the Prairie brand for a Laura Ingalls doll, as well as clothes, furniture, and accessories. Knockout Licensing represents the property.... Hasbro is selling a series of Nerf Rebelle soft bows and arrows tied to the book-based Divergent movies.