Abrams will welcome a new children’s imprint in fall 2020, when the company becomes the North American publisher of Magic Cat, an independent, London-based publishing house recently founded by Rachel Williams and Jenny Broom. Magic Cat titles will debut next spring in the U.K., where its titles will be distributed by Abrams and Chronicle, and in Australia and New Zealand, where Walker Australia will distribute the list. Additionally, Magic Cat will be published as a new imprint of Ronshin Group in China.
Magic Cat will focus on illustrated nonfiction and gift books that will, according to Abrams, “encourage children to dream big and celebrate the art of storytelling in innovative formats.” Innovation is a hallmark of the publishing careers of Williams and Broom, who previously helmed Big Picture Press (for Templar) and Wide Eyed Editions (for the Quarto Group), and who are both children’s authors themselves.
“We have long admired the beautiful, wide-ranging books Rachel and Jenny have published throughout the years,” said Andrew Smith, senior v-p and publisher of Abrams Children’s Books, noting that in the past his company has bought North American rights to books published by the duo, including The Boy and the Giant by David Litchfield, T-Veg by Smriti Prasadam-Halls and Katherina Manolessou, and Grandpa’s Stories by Joseph Coelho and Allison Colpoys.
A New Collaborative Chapter
“When we recently began having conversations with Rachel and Jenny, we were very impressed by the list they had conceived for Magic Cat,” Smith said. “We knew there was an instant synergy between the two companies in our approach to publishing beautifully illustrated books that resonate with readers. The exciting new list they’re developing for Magic Cat is a perfect complement to our existing publishing program.”
Smith explained that Abrams’s strength in illustrated nonfiction “is with picture book biographies for young readers, as well as photo essays and narrative nonfiction formats for older readers. The Magic Cat publishing program will bring us older, illustrated nonfiction books.” As examples, Smith cited two of the six titles on the inaugural list: Slow Down: Discovering the Extraordinary in the Ordinary, written by Williams and illustrated by Freya Hartas, a picture book that meshes mindfulness and natural history; and Old Enough to Save the Planet by Loll Kirby, illustrated by Adelina Lirius, introducing 12 real-life children who have taken action to combat climate change.
Smith anticipates that the Magic Cat imprint will release between 10 and 12 titles annually, and, though its launch list will consist of books acquired by Magic Cat in the U.K., he said,“We hope to eventually publish select titles simultaneously in the U.S. and the U.K. in order to make larger marketing statements in both territories, and we’ll work together on any titles that might originate in the U.S.”
The Magic Cat moniker is apropos and reflective, Smith, observed, “of the magic that happens when the creative team is front and center. Jenny and Rachel have a great love of business and numbers but are also editors, and they understand that the real ‘magic’ happens when members of the creative team are empowered to pursue ideas they are most passionate about.”
Integral to Magic Cat’s mission, Broom noted, is building a list created by a wide array of writers and illustrators. “More than half of the contributors on our launch list are from a diverse or international background, and all our books embrace diverse themes, including the environment, mental health, and female empowerment,” she said. “The founding partners of Magic Cat are British, Australian, and Chinese, and the list has a very global feel. We look forward to reaching out to readers and inspiring them to live out their dreams, whatever their background, gender, or ethnicity.”