North Star Editions first attracted attention in children's publishing circles when it acquired the Flux imprint from Llewellyn Worldwide last July. Three months later it followed up that purchase by acquiring Jolly Fish Press, which was on the verge of closing down. Mari Kesselring, managing editor of North Star, declined to identify the two primary investors who started the new company, only telling PW that the publisher's cofounders are business people living in Minnesota "who want to support the publishing industry" and feel strongly that "reading is important," especially during the teen years. "Providing high-quality fiction is important in serving this market," Kesselring said.

Although North Star has kept in print the titles it acquired from Flux and Jolly Fish, it will release its first original books early this year. The focus at the publisher will be on publishing trade fiction under the Flux and Jolly Fish imprints. Flux, which launched the careers of Maggie Stiefvater, A.S. King, Laura Faria Stolarz, and Simone Elkeles, is already a young adult imprint that specializes in "alternative voices," and it will continue in that direction. Jolly Fish, which for five years published a wide range of fiction for both children and adults, will stop acquiring adult books and narrow its focus to YA and middle grade fiction.

"Jolly Fish is the sister of Flux," Kesselring said while discussing the acquisition of Jolly Fish during a recent visit by PW to North Star's offices in suburban Mendota Heights, close to the Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport. Negotiations between North Star and Jolly Fish were completed within a week of Jolly Fish's initial announcement that it was planning to close. "We knew Jolly Fish would be a good companion to Flux. Flux is more edgy, while Jolly Fish is more family friendly and G-rated," Kesselring noted, disclosing that North Star had no knowledge of Jolly Fish's financial problems prior to the announcement.

North Star has three full-time employees in addition to Kesselring, who had worked at the book-packaging company Red Line Editorial before moving to North Star. Joe Riley, a sales and marketing veteran who has worked for Fortress Press, Liturgical Press, Hazelden Publishing, and Creative Publishing, is North Star's sales manager, while Megan Naidl, whose background includes serving as communications manager at e-book distributor Big Timber Media, is its publicity manager.

North Star's spring list will be made up of four YA titles. Two titles will be published under the Flux imprint: The Edge of the Abyss (Apr.) by Emily Skrutskie, a sequel to The Abyss Surrounds Us, and Seeking Mansfield (May), a debut novel by Kate Watson. The other two spring 2017 titles will be published under the Jolly Fish imprint: The Fall of the Dragon Prince by Dan Allen (Feb.) and The Black Tempest (Apr.) by Ryan Dalton, the second in a trilogy. Print runs have yet to be determined.

Although only two additional titles have been scheduled for release in fall 2017, Kesselring said that North Star expects to publish 20 new books this year. To augment its own list, starting this month North Star will begin distributing nonfiction MG titles published by Focus Readers to the school and library market. Focus Readers, which has separate ownership from North Star, will launch with 50 titles for students in grades 3–7.

At the moment North Star is building up its 2017 list, introducing itself to the trade, negotiating representation with commission reps, and making sure that its titles are made available through all of the major wholesalers. However, at some point in the future, North Star is considering publishing nonfiction for the teen market in addition to fiction. "It's a market that isn't tapped," Kesselring said. "That would be great, to create a YA-friendly imprint to disseminate facts."