S&S Gives the Green Light to Crayola
Simon & Schuster has secured the rights to publish preschool books under the Crayola brand. The company had published Crayola titles in the past, until the mid-2000s, and its former list, like the books of other publishers that have been involved with the brand over the years, had primarily focused on activities and concepts. This program offers a different spin. “We’re going to focus on the social-emotional connection people have with color,” said Valerie Garfield, v-p and publisher of novelty and licensed publishing. “The books are about colors and moods and using that as a way to talk about feelings.”
Most of the books center on a Crayola crayon color. I’m Feeling Macaroni and Cheese, to be released this summer, captures the playful feeling of that yellow-orange hue, for example, while I’m Having a Sky Blue Day!, scheduled for 2018, “is about opening up to possibilities, within the realm of a two- to four-year-old,” Garfield said. “[This approach] rings true, and it sets us apart from other books about colors.”
The first round of three books, including Macaroni and Cheese as well as Winter Colorland, about the colors of the seasons, and Chalk It Up, a book on imagination, debuts in August 2017. The following year will bring additional titles, including Sky Blue Day and Colors of Love.
Other new properties in Simon & Schuster’s packed list of licensed tie-ins include Sony’s feature films Emojiville and The Star, the latter retelling the story of the nativity; Jim Henson Productions’ DinoTrain, for which Simon takes over publishing duties from Penguin and which is being refreshed with a new toy line from Jazwares; and two Netflix-distributed series from DreamWorks/Universal, Voltron and Trollhunters. The last, which is based on a concept from filmmaker Guillermo del Toro and is the most successful kids’ show to date on Netflix, is for readers aged 7 to 10. “It has intergalactic action adventure, but it also has a sense of humor,” Garfield said.
Abrams Launches Two Superheroic Series
Abrams Books for Young Readers is debuting two original middle-grade fiction series based on The Flash and Supergirl, live-action TV shows produced by Warner Bros. Television and Berlanti Productions. Both air on the CW network and are based on DC Comics properties. Although Abrams has previously published art books for properties within the DC universe, this is the first time it has offered DC-based titles for children.
“These are the top-rated shows on the CW and the most family-friendly, and we know young fans are tuning in each week to see what happens next,” said publisher Andrew Smith. “We’re thrilled to be able to tell brand-new stories and adventures to expand on the TV show.”
Barry Lyga, author of titles such as I Hunt Killers and The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, will write The Flash, while Jo Whittemore, known for her Confidentially Yours series and the Silverskin Legacy trilogy, will write Supergirl. “They are both huge fans and already had watched every episode,” Smith said. “They’re also friends themselves and are talking about how they can tease each other’s series. They’ve done that with the TV shows, where The Flash crosses over to Supergirl, and vice versa, and we’re exploring doing that in the books, too.”
Both series will be trilogies to start, with the first $13.95 paper-over-board hardcovers launching this fall under the Amulet imprint. The Flash: Hocus Pocus will debut in October 2017, followed by Supergirl: Age of Atlantis in November. The next two titles for each series will come out in spring and fall of 2018.
Covers for both series are by César Moreno, a pop culture poster artist. “We wanted a look that was not just picking up the TV art,” Smith said. “We wanted the books to feel like great objects that kids will want to keep in their libraries. This felt fresh and collectible and something that the fans of the show would appreciate.”
Abrams is finalizing cross-promotional plans with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, which represents both the two CW series and the underlying DC Comics properties for licensing. The publisher is planning to launch at San Diego Comic Con, with limited-edition Moreno posters as giveaways, as well as a presence at New York Comic Con, where authors Lyga and Whittemore may appear.
Scholastic Is Sweet on Molang
Scholastic has joined the list of licensees for the preschool TV series Molang, with its first titles coming to stores in time for the 2017 back-to-school season.
The property was born in 2010 from creator Hye-Ji Yoon’s personal blog, quickly becoming popular in his home country of South Korea through a series of instant-message apps. French studio Millimages secured global rights to the property in 2013, charged with handling licensing and creating an animated TV series. That series now airs on Disney Junior in the U.S., where Licensing Works! serves as the representative for merchandising.
While the property is billed as appealing to a wide range of fans, from preschoolers to teens, Scholastic will focus on readers ages 3 to 6, who comprise the bulk of the TV series’ audience. “Molang is so adorable, so young and sweet,” said Debra Dorfman, v-p and publisher, global licensing, media, and consumer products.
One challenge, she said, is that the characters in the TV series speak a fake language, making it understandable, without translation, to viewers across the globe. “They don’t speak, they make noises,” Dorfman explained. That means that there is no dialogue for Scholastic to use, requiring some creativity to adapt the storytelling from screen to page.
The company’s publishing program is being put together under a short time frame between the recently signed deal and the fall debut. It will start with episode-based 8x8 storybooks featuring sparkle stickers, followed by board books, readers, and novelty books in 2018. Scholastic’s titles will be accompanied by a broad licensing program that includes toys from Jazwares, as well as apparel for preschoolers through teens, DVDs, bedding, headwear, bags, and fabrics, with more categories to come.
In separate news, Scholastic will publish books tied to another preschool series, Ben & Holly, which airs on Nick Jr. in the U.S. Property owner Entertainment One also works with Scholastic on Peppa Pig, a license that is still going strong, according to Dorfman. Early Ben & Holly titles will include a paper-over-board hardcover storybook, which will debut exclusively at Target before going wide, and an 8x8, both launching in September. These will be followed by two more titles, one in November and one in January.
Sesame Street Re-enters Cloth Book Category
Sesame Workshop has licensed Kids Preferred for soft books, bringing the studio back into this preschool format after a gap of at least three years. “Cloth books are a really pivotal format for our audience,” said Jennifer Perry, v-p and publisher, North America Media Products. “Given our early learning focus, they are a perfect learning tool for parents and caregivers, and they’ve been a big part of our history.” Kids Preferred will produce a long list of formats, including emoji books that use familiar characters such as Elmo and Cookie Monster to explore feelings.
In other Sesame Street publishing news, Sesame Workshop and its licensees have released the first two books to feature the show’s new Muppet, Julia, who has autism. Julia was introduced in March as part of an awareness campaign to support families with children on the autism spectrum and to help youngsters understand autism and learn how to relate to friends and schoolmates who have the condition.
In October, Random House is publishing a Big Golden Book version of We’re Amazing 1-2-3, which the Workshop released as a free e-book in March in conjunction with the launch of the campaign and a 60 Minutes segment about it. Studio Fun, meanwhile, is releasing a print book in July that is the first Sesame Street book to feature Julia on the cover. Called Celebrate You, Celebrate Me, the book is about acceptance and inclusion. (Sesame Workshop is now working with Readerlink, the new owner of the Studio Fun imprint, on both backlist titles and new formats.)
The Workshop is also debuting an e-book tied to The Furchester Hotel, marking the first U.S. publishing initiative for that TV series. The show is a collaboration with the U.K.’s CBeebies network and features Elmo, Cookie Monster, and a range of new characters in a setting that Perry describes as “The Muppets meet Fawlty Towers.” It airs on Sprout and Netflix in the U.S.
Finally, on the digital front, Sesame Workshop’s recent partners include the library-focused streaming media distributor Hoopla; the learning platform WriteReader, which allows students ages 3–10 to create storybooks online; and the media platform Kidjo, for animated storybooks.
The Art of Cartoon Network
Cartoon Network has been expanding its activities in the “Art of” format, according to Pete Yoder, v-p of Cartoon Network Enterprises North America. Dark Horse Comics is coming out with three titles, for example. In August, it will release Go Team Venture!: The Art and Making of The Venture Bros., and in September it will introduce The Art of Rick and Morty. Both feature interviews with creators, on-screen talent, and behind-the-scenes creative staff; original sketches and production art; and additional in-depth information about the production and story.
Dark Horse is also publishing The Art of Over the Garden Wall in September. This book is unique in that the property was a mini-series that aired three years ago. While it has a loyal fan base, it does not have the long history of content that other TV series adapted into “Art of” books tend to have.
Yoder notes that the nature of the series gives the publisher opportunities to add storytelling and imagery beyond the show itself, such as more behind-the-scenes details of how the production came about. “We don’t have as many screen assets, so we can do a lot more interpretive art,” Yoder noted, adding, “We’re using publishing to help us tell not only the story, but what happens before and after the story, even without more linear [on-air] content.” In addition to hundreds of images of concept, production, and sketch art, and commentary from the creators, the book includes imagery from the 2013 short film Tome of the Unknown: Harvest Melody, which served as the pilot for Over the Garden Wall.
In addition to Dark Horse’s “Art of” titles, Cartoon Network is working with Abrams on Steven Universe: Art & Origins, which releases on July 11. Creator Rebecca Sugar, who has been active in the development and marketing of much of the publishing tied to this series, was involved in the art book, along with other creatives who make Steven Universe a reality.
Boom! Studios is publishing a 12-issue comic book series called The Power of the Dark Crystal, which serves as a sequel to the classic film licensed by Jim Henson Productions. Henson recently renewed its publishing deal with Boom! for another five years; the agreement includes Labyrinth, Fraggle Rock, and The Storyteller in addition to Dark Crystal.... In other Henson news, Insight Editions is publishing The Dark Crystal: The Ultimate Visual History in September, following the release of Labyrinth: The Ultimate Visual History last fall.... Firefly Books is the new official publisher of the National Film Board of Canada. The first titles, coming out this fall, will include children’s tie-ins to the NFB animated films The Cat Came Back and My Grandmother Ironed the King’s Shirts.... A+E licensed Titan Books to publish books and comics tied to the History channel’s scripted historical drama, Knightfall. The first titles debut day-and-date with the premiere of the show.... The U.S. division of U.K.-based What on Earth Books is publishing three educational timeline books for ages six to adult in association with the American Museum of Natural History. The titles are The Nature Timeline Wallbook (July); The Science Timeline Wallbook (Aug.), and The Big History Timeline Wallbook (Sept.).... Moxie & Co. is representing Quirk Books for licensing, with the initial focus on YA series Warren the 13th and the Worst-Case Scenario brand.... Merrymakers is serving as licensing agent for author-illustrator Mike Curato’s Little Elliot, published by Henry Holt.... Joe Books is now distributing its new and backlist Disney Comics through Comixology. It is also publishing a Cinestory Comic this fall for Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and four titles, two each in 2017 and 2018, tied to the animated TV series Star Wars Rebels.... Running Press’s Skee-Ball minikits debuted earlier this summer; Dimensional Branding Group represents Skee-Ball for licensing.... Quarto’s Walter Foster Jr. imprint is publishing a Moulin Rouge coloring activity book that features classic and contemporary poster art, including famed examples created by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Licensing Works! manages Moulin Rouge licensing.... Scholastic has licensed Pixowl to create a mobile game, Goosebumps Horrortown.... In October, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers is releasing a crossover novel, Monster High/Ever After High: The Legend of Shadow High, by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale. The book, which will have a first printing of 150,000 copies, combines two franchises that Little, Brown publishes under license from Mattel.... Boom! Studios and Dynamite Entertainment are partnering to release a Garfield vs. Grumpy Cat crossover comic this summer, written by Garfield creator Jim Davis. Boom! is Garfield’s comic book licensee, while Dynamite publishes Grumpy Cat comics.... Simon & Schuster has renewed its licensing deal with the Fred Rogers Company for Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood tie-ins, extending the partnership until 2022.... Barnes & Noble is running a promotion this summer featuring The Rainbow Fish, licensed by RJM Licensing; shoppers who buy any children’s book at the store can purchase The Rainbow Fish for $7.99.