Penguin Young Readers is acquiring Eric Carle LLC, the asset holder of the IP rights for beloved picture-book creator Eric Carle, whose books have sold more than 145 million copies worldwide.

The deal—which includes the global publishing rights to Carle’s more than 70 children’s books, along with the substantial Eric Carle licensing business—is expected to close on January 1, 2020. The news was announced today by Madeline McIntosh, CEO of Penguin Random House U.S., who made the acquisition with Jen Loja, president of PRH’s Penguin Young Readers division.

Carle’s association with Penguin Young Readers began 50 years ago with the publication of one of his best-known books, The Very Hungry Caterpillar acquired by Ann Beneduce for World Publishing (later bought by Putnam). The author and publisher have partnered on numerous projects, extending the Eric Carle brand across retail and entertainment channels.

For the past 25 years, the Eric Carle studio, under the leadership of CEO Jack Fortier and creative director Motoko Inoue, has managed the business assets of Carle’s work. With the studio’s guidance, the Eric Carle brand has grown to include live children’s theater adaptions, interactive apps, direct-to-retail license and “good for you” food- and beverage-licensing, making it one of the biggest book-based preschool brands in the world. Beginning in January, all domestic and foreign business operations for what has previously been the Eric Carle studio will be overseen by Stephanie Sabol, v-p of business development at Penguin Young Readers. Penguin will continue to work with the Joester Loria Group, licensing agent for the Eric Carle brand since 2011.

Carle, who celebrated his 90th birthday in June, said in a statement, “My son, Rolf, and I have decided to transition the management of my books to the most logical and appropriate place: Penguin Random House. I know they will continue the work of the Eric Carle studio with creativity, integrity, and care. I feel confident that entrusting Penguin Random House with my life’s work is the right direction for me, and will benefit many future generations of readers for my books.”

Penguin’s Eric Carle publishing will continue at the World of Eric Carle imprint under Francesco Sedita, president and publisher of the Penguin Workshop imprint. Penguin Young Readers will carry on the publishing-partner relationships for the Carle books with sister company Penguin Random House Children’s UK, where Puffin has published Eric Carle since 1969, as well as with Carle’s other domestic and international publishing partners.

Following a transitional period, Inoue will retire and Fortier will take on the role of president of the Eric and Barbara Carle Foundation. Mary Mekarnom, currently senior designer of the studio, will assume the title of creative director, newly reporting to Stephanie Sabol. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Mass. will remain a separate entity.

Loja said in a statement, “Eric Carle’s iconic picture books have long been part of the fabric of Penguin Young Readers. Generations of readers, myself included, grew up with Eric’s innovatively designed books. And his signature collage artwork and introductions to early concepts are as resonant today as they were 50 years ago. After years of working closely with Eric, Jack, Motoko, and their brilliant team, we are honored to continue their work to grow and expand this treasured preschool brand.”