Random House Children’s Books disclosed on Thursday that it has teamed up with American Ballet Theatre to launch a publishing program in September, to coincide with the opening of ABT’s 80th anniversary fall season. Spanning a range of ages and formats, eight titles will be released under one of three imprints: Doubleday Books for Young Readers, Random House Studio, and Random House Graphic. Mallory Loehr, senior v-p and publishing director of Random House Books for Young Readers Group, and Lee Wade, v-p and publisher of Random House Studio, negotiated world rights to the books with Trina Storfer and Erica Kane at Orchard Street Ventures.
Loehr said of the new partnership, “We celebrate and support ABT’s dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and those tenets will be reflected in the stories we publish for young readers, with guidance and support from the team at ABT. It is our hope to educate children and foster a love of dance through the powerful medium of storytelling.”
The program will debut on September 22 with two picture books from Doubleday, both edited by Frances Gilbert, the imprint’s editor-in-chief. These are B Is for Ballet, an alphabetical celebration of the world of ballet—its dancers, dances, choreographers, positions, terminology, and history—written by John Robert Allman (A Is for Audra) and illustrated by Rachael Dean; and Allman’s Boys Dance!, featuring art by Luciano Lozano, which introduces boys who take ballet lessons and the dance heroes who inspire them.
“When we first started working on these books, the author and I were invited to hang out with some of ABT’s dancers one evening, to hear their stories about being young boys who loved dance,” Gilbert said. “It was pretty much a highlight of my career to eat pizza and chat with these superheroes. ABT has been incredibly open and generous in creating these books with us, and the results show. So many boys and girls will be inspired to take up dance once they read them.”
Future RHCB/ABT titles include a photographic gift book from Doubleday, spotlighting three children at the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. Random House Studio will publish Gloria’s Promise, a picture book by sisters Robin Preiss Glasser and Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman, starring a motivated girl on the day of her ABT audition; and a sequel featuring Gloria on the night of her first ABT performance. Another Random House Studio picture book is My Daddy Is a Ballet Dancer, written by ABT dancer (and father) Thomas Forster and Shari Loeffler. And contemporary middle grade and young adult graphic novels will be released by Random House Graphic.
“As American Ballet Theatre celebrates eight triumphant decades and looks to the future, we are thrilled to introduce these children’s books to inspire the next generation of artists and audiences,” noted Kara Medoff Barnett, executive director of ABT. “With Random House Children’s Books, we will tell unexpected stories that reveal the adventure and the humanity behind the scenes as dancers pursue their dreams.”