Last October publisher Daniel Nayeri, editorial director Nathalie Le Du, and creative director Colleen AF Venable left Workman to create an imprint for Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. The three have so many ideas in the works that they haven’t gotten around—until now—to naming their imprint. They work so hard in their space atop the Flatiron Building that they joke about having cots hidden in the corridors.
At BookExpo, Nayeri, Le Du, and Venable are launching their inaugural list and with it a name, at last: Odd Dot. The three, who led the team responsible for Workman’s Paint by Sticker, and Summer Brain Quest franchises, as well as editing the Big Fat Notebooks franchise, chose Odd Dot to celebrate a sense of individuality, while giving a nod to the idea that a color field comprises many distinct dots arrayed together. The imprint will publish a slate of interactive nonfiction children’s books intended to appeal to both academically inclined children and those who struggle with traditional learning.
Although the two types of readers are often seen as vastly different, Nayeri says they share one important trait: they get obsessed. "If you take desire and motivation, and ratchet it up far enough, you get somebody flailing in every direction and somebody else hyperfocusing," he adds.
How Odd Dot intends to reach readers with those profiles is part of the press’s mission, says Le Du. "We take very seriously the mission of inspiring kids to explore the world and understand the world, but then we’re adding on this other part of giving them the capabilities to change the world," says Le Du.
Odd Dot will release its first three titles in spring 2019. One More Wheel is a counting board book with moving wheels built into the book. Code This Game teaches preteen readers to code a video game, then hack their work to develop a game of their own. A TinkerActive Workbook series follows a cast of characters geometrically designed to teach basic math to kindergarten through second-grade readers.
Reflecting on the new name, Nayeri calls the imprint "a shocking commitment to oddity." Not just the books but the way the books are created. Odd Dot’s workspace is as much a laboratory as it is a traditional publishing house. A 3-D printer fashions prototypes, while boxes of materials reflect ongoing experiments with book structures—Code This Game has a foldout easel to support the book upright—and even an attempt to grow a vegetable on the surface of a book.
BookExpo attendees can have what Le Du says is "their own proudly odd moment" at the publisher’s booth (2444), where they can take a photo with their heads sticking out among a 10×10-foot field of brightly colored dots.