Random House Is Sweet on Peeps

Next January, Random House Children’s Books will launch its first four titles tied to Just Born’s marshmallow candy brand, Peeps. The first list includes an 8x8 storybook, The Sweetest Easter, with pull-out egg holders and stickers; a Little Golden Book, Peeps in Pajamas, featuring a bedtime-themed story; a full-color activity book, Peep, Peep, Hooray!, with mini-posters and stickers; and a crossover book for children and adults called Let Your PEEPSonality Shine, which shows Peeps characters Photoshopped into real-world situations, accompanied by inspiring quotes and fun facts.

“This has become an iconic property at this point,” says Andrea Posner-Sanchez, executive editor at Random House. “Peeps are all over Pinterest. People are cooking with them. People are making crafts with them. We thought people would also want to read about them, and Just Born has been open to letting us really run with it.”

Posner-Sanchez says the decision to secure the license was an easy one. “We’re approached with many licenses to consider,” she says. “Often they’re not quite right for us or there’s no market for it. But as soon as I saw this I knew it was right for the company and that consumers would really appreciate it.”

Sizzle Pairs with Sago for Board Books

Sizzle Press has entered the preschool market with a series of board books tied to the preschool app brand Sago Mini. The initial two titles, Jinja’s Surprise! and Cozy Christmas: A Touch-and-Feel Book launched in September, and two more, Wake and Sleep: A Lift-the-Flap Book and More Hugs!, will release in December. Next year will bring two additional interactive board books in spring and two in summer.

“We had heard about Sago Mini and how influential and successful it was in the world of apps,” says Sonali Fry, publisher of Sizzle Press and Little Bee Books. “We look for early success that we can build on. They were also committed to bringing a positive entertainment experience to their audience and wanted books to be key to the brand.”

“At our root we’ve always been a studio focused on open-ended, positive play for kids,” says Jason Krogh, CEO of Sago Mini. “We’ve focused on the screen, but we know that time with a screen is just one touchpoint of kids’ lives.” He notes that Sizzle quickly saw the potential of working with a property that was born as an app. “We really both had the same mindset,” Krogh says.

Sago Mini has 20 apps on its list to date. Collectively, they have been downloaded 15 million times and boast two million active users. The books feature four main and several secondary characters from the apps, and are intended to be as interactive as possible to reflect their roots in the digital world. In addition to design features such as tabs and flaps, “the text invites the readers to go in and anticipate what comes next,” Fry explains.

Sizzle Press launched in early 2016 as a licensing-focused spin-off of Bonnier Publishing USA’s Little Bee Books imprint. Its other licenses to date include Shopkins and Ice Age: Collision Course; Sago Mini is the first of several preschool brands the company hopes to sign.

Do NOT Turn This Page: Sesame’s ‘Monster’ Turns 45

Sesame Workshop and Random House are celebrating the 45th birthday of The Monster at the End of This Book! The original Little Golden Book has not been out of print since it was first published by Golden Press in October 1971, just two years after Sesame Street first hit the airwaves.

“I think of it as the first meta picture book,” says Mallory Loehr, senior v-p and publisher, Random House Children’s Book Group. “It was the first to speak directly to the reader and to bring the reader into the story. If you think about it, Sesame Street did the same thing. The characters are speaking to the camera, to that kid in the living room or at the dining room table, and asking them to participate.” Monster author Jon Stone was a director, writer, and producer for Sesame Street.

The Monster at the End of This Book! has remained the all-time bestselling Sesame Street book, moving an estimated 12 million-plus copies across formats over its lifetime. (The exact number is unknown due to a lack of precise records from the years before Random House purchased the Golden Books publishing rights in 2001.) Moreover, Monster is the second bestselling Little Golden Book title, after The Poky Little Puppy.

“The text and the art [by Michael Smollin] are a perfect marriage, and that is one of the reasons the book has such an important place in people’s lives,” says Jennifer Perry, v-p of worldwide publishing at Sesame Workshop. “It’s about making decisions, tackling your fears, and being resilient. And it’s a real bonding experience for parents and children.”

“The book is very clever, but everyone gets it. It’s not too smart for its own good,” Loehr adds. “I also love that it started as a Little Golden Book, the format of the people, totally affordable.”

There have been a total of six Random House formats over the years, including a Big Golden Book and a board book. Sesame Workshop also released an ebook in 2012, which has generated 45,000 downloads across all core platforms, and an app in 2011, with 500,000 downloads to date, representing the organization’s bestselling story-based app. A sequel, Another Monster at the End of this Book!, was published in 1996 and ranks among the top 10 Sesame Street titles in both print and digital forms. In April 2017, Running Press will publish a mini-kit with a miniature version of the original book and a mini Grover plush.

To mark the 45th anniversary, Sesame Workshop has paired with comic book artist and National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Gene Luen Yang, who helped launch the celebration with an event at the New York Public Library. He also adapted a scene from the book in his own art style as part of an initiative that encourages fans to create their own Monster-related artwork and share it on social media. Through a raffle, some of the participants will receive a code to access the app version of the book.

In Brief

Parragon secured the rights to Mattel’s Bob the Builder for Happy Tins, mega coloring books, jigsaws, and other novelty formats for the U.K., U.S., New Zealand, and Australian markets. The first titles came out this fall.... Separately, Parragon is publishing activity books and gifts in the U.K., U.S., Australia, and Scandinavia for Disney’s Moana.... The Anne of Green Gables Licensing Authority has authorized Breakthrough Entertainment to oversee global licensing and merchandising rights for a new series of Anne of Green Gables films. The first movie in the series will run on PBS in the U.S.... Egmont is launching Marvel author-led fiction titles in the U.K. market, starting with Eoin Colfer’s Iron Man: The Gauntlet this fall, followed in spring 2017 by the first book in Tom Angelberger’s new fiction series, Rocket and Groot: Stranded on Planet Shopping Mall, starring the Guardians of the Galaxy characters. The two titles are published in the U.S. by Disney Publishing’s Marvel Press imprint.... Weldon Owen is publishing The Total Fitness Manual: Transform Your Body in 12 Weeks, under license from Gold’s Gym. Brand Sense Partners, the licensing agent for Gold’s Gym, negotiated the deal.