Macmillan’s Imprint Adds Mysticons

Macmillan Children’s Book Group has signed a licensing deal with Nelvana that gives it world English-language rights to publish tie-ins for Mysticons, an animated action-fantasy TV series that airs on Nickelodeon in the U.S. and YTV in Canada.

“All of our younger licensed content so far focuses on positive representation for girls, and that’s definitely a big part of why we loved Mysticons,” said Erin Stein, publisher of Macmillan’s Imprint. “The girls are confident and bold. It’s great to be working with a girls’ action show where the characters get to kick some butt.”

Two books will be published per season starting in June 2018, with one being a paperback novelization and the other a paper-over-board original novel. Additional formats such as journals or activity books are possible in future seasons, depending on what characters or storylines break out.

The original novels complement what is happening on-screen but can go in different directions. For example, the first novel, The Fifth Mysticon, features a villain that appears only in the books. Some of the characters developed for publishing could cross over into the TV series in the future, Stein said. Meanwhile, the novelizations do not adhere strictly to individual shows; the initial release, Quest for the Codex, covers several episodes.

Imprint has already had meetings with toy licensee Playmates and trading card licensee Topps, according to Stein, as well as a story summit with the show’s writers and comic book licensee Dark Horse. The partners are in talks about potential cross-promotions as well.

Skyhorse Prepares for a Line of Boy Scouts Books

Eleven-year-old Skyhorse Publishing’s list includes many books about the outdoors, from fishing, hiking, and camping, to boating, hunting, and survival skills. Over the years, it has partnered with the likes of Trout Unlimited, Outdoor Sportsman’s Group, and Orvis for branded titles touching on outdoors topics. Most recently, it has added to that roster by partnering with Boy Scouts of America for a line of licensed titles on basic survival, first aid, knots, and other topics for which both Skyhorse and the Boy Scouts are known.

“Boy Scouts of America teaches young men to be good citizens, and part of that is getting them outdoors,” said editorial director Jay Cassell. “These are not typical Boy Scouts Handbooks. They’re all color, 5x7 hardcovers with high-quality paper, and 160 pages.”

The target market for the Boy Scouts titles, which will include about three releases per season starting in fall 2018, will be broad. The books will appeal not just to the 2.5 million current Scouts but to the more than 100 million boys and men who have participated in Scouting over the years, according to Cassell, as well as anyone else who enjoys the outdoors. “Take knot-tying,” he said. “If you’re 12 or 72, it will apply.”

Skyhorse’s distribution infrastructure includes strong placement in special sales channels like Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, and Tractor Supply, as well as traditional trade channels.

Cottage Door Joins Daniel Tiger’s Family

Cottage Door Press is the latest publisher to partner with the Fred Rogers Company as a licensee for the preschool TV series Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, which airs on PBS Kids. Cottage Door will publish three books in summer and fall 2018, with more to come. This is the company’s third licensing deal, following Smithsonian and Kids II (owner of Baby Einstein and Oball).

“Daniel Tiger is a great fit for us,” said marketing manager Melissa Tigges. “It hits our core preschool market and it has this whole learning, family values platform that fits with what Cottage Door Press is about. The imagery is gorgeous. And who would not want to partner with the Fred Rogers Company?”

Initial formats will include an electronic songbook incorporating five tunes from the show that help teach young readers social-emotional and life skills; another electronic book that will feature sound effects and perhaps a song; and a Think and Find book. Retail prices will likely range from $9.99 to $16.99. The deal marks the first time that Cottage Door has applied a license to its sound/song books, and it is using the Daniel Tiger license to launch the Think and Find format.

Other publishers working with Daniel Tiger include Simon & Schuster, which serves as master licensee, and Bendon for coloring and activity books. Out of the Blue Enterprises serves as Fred Rogers’ licensing agent.

Willy Wonka Comes to America

The Roald Dahl estate has named Brand Activation Consulting as its licensing agent for North America. This will be the first time Dahl’s characters will be available for licensing on a wide scale in this territory; there have been some movie tie-in products and a few items imported from the U.K. over the years.

“This is a dream, to work with a 50-year-old brand with the kind of equity this has, and without any licensing having been done,” said Bob Traub, BAC’s principal. “It’s a chance to be creative and do the whole gamut of licensing, from adults where the books are their favorite stories of all time, to kids who are reading them now in school.”

Penguin Random House’s core publishing program serves as a strong launch platform for merchandise. “Despite all the challenges in the literary market and the traditional bookstore market, and the challenges of digital media, the Roald Dahl business in traditional publishing continues to increase,” Traub said. “Last year, Dahl’s 100th birthday year, was the best year for Roald Dahl in the U.S. ever.” Globally, more than 250 million books have been sold to date, including 15 million in 2016.

Licensed products featuring feature the classic Quentin Blake illustrations along with Dahl’s stories, will cross all merchandise categories, ages, and distribution tiers, with quick-service restaurant and retail promotions also planned. Traub expects to announce the first licensees soon, in apparel, gifts, fabrics, sleepwear, and stationery.

The program will focus initially on four brands: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, and The BFG. “Those are the best-known and best-selling properties,” Traub noted. “That said, I do get a lot of requests for Fantastic Mr. Fox and some of the others. But we want to focus on the core properties for at least the first couple of years.”

In Brief

Egmont Publishing has acquired licensing rights to the user-generated social gaming platform Roblox, with plans to publish books for all ages starting in the second half of 2018…. Sony Pictures Consumer Products named Simon & Schuster, Bendon, and Papercutz as the publishing partners for Hotel Transylvania, the TV and film franchise. The TV series airs on the Disney Channel…. Highlights for Children signed a licensing deal with Haba USA for a Highlights toy line…. Joe Books entered into a co-publishing and distribution partnership with Imagination Agency, a company founded by Green Bay Packer Martellus Bennett. Joe Books will launch comics and graphic novels based on Bennett’s Hey AJ character…. Bonnier Publishing secured the publishing rights from Disney for a range of formats in the U.K. market, featuring the Disney Baby, Disney Princess, Frozen, Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse & Friends, and Jungle Book brands, as well as the upcoming film Coco…. Valiant Comics partnered with licensing agencies in the Nordic region, Netherlands, India, Brazil, Spanish-speaking South and Central America, Germany, and the U.K., to assist it in expanding its merchandise efforts globally…. Rizzoli International Publications is the first U.S. licensee for The Great British Baking Show, represented by Spotlight Licensing and Brand Management. Rizzoli will produce wall calendars starting in 2018…. The Joester-Loria Group, licensing agent for The World of Eric Carle, appointed GZ Art-land as its sub-agent to handle licensing for the property in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau…. Dreamtex will sell home textiles based on The Elf on the Shelf.