Penguin Young Readers will welcome a new picture book imprint in spring 2021, when Flamingo Books takes flight under the leadership of v-p and publisher Margaret Anastas. Before moving to Viking Children’s Books last October to launch the imprint, Anastas spent 18 years at HarperCollins Children’s Books (most recently as editorial director), where she acquired and published such prominent series as Fancy Nancy and Pete the Cat and numerous other bestsellers, including Dear Girl by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, The Bad Seed and The Good Egg by Jory John, Not a Box by Antoinette Portis, and I’ve Loved You Since Forever and You Are My Happy by Today show anchor Hoda Kotb.

The inaugural Flamingo list encompasses a trio of titles: I Am Smart, I Am Blessed, I Can Do Anything! by Alissa Holder and Zulekha Holder-Young, illustrated by Nneka Myers (Jan.), in which a boy discovers the rewards of having a sunny outlook; Hugo and the Impossible Thing by Renée Felice Smith and Chris Gabriel, featuring art by Sydney Hanson (Mar.), starring a pup who learns that nothing is impossible with determination and help from friends; and Kelly Corrigan’s Hello World, illustrated by Stacy Ebert (Apr.), a story about moving on and the people you’ll meet who will shape who you become.

Anastas credits Ken Wright, president and publisher of Viking Children’s Books and Philomel, and Jen Loja, president of Penguin Young Readers, for inspiring her to launch an imprint at Viking. “I had never thought that I wanted or would have my own imprint,” she recalled. “But Ken told me that he thought it was something I could do, and Jen said that she believed this was the right next step for me. They are so incredibly smart and positive, and this was such an exciting opportunity—why would I say no?”

Landing a Direction, Name, and Logo

Anastas knew from the start what focus she wanted the fledgling imprint to have, noting “my heart is in picture books, and I know what I love and what resonates in the market.” Yet the editor is clearly approaching her new venture with an open mind. “Flamingo also gives me a chance to try something new and learn something different,” she said. “I would love, for example, to publish a young graphic novel. My goal is to create an eclectic list, with both new and familiar voices and some celebrity authors. In selecting books, I plan to do what I’ve always done: go with my gut.”

Anastas did exactly that when she serendipitously chose a name for her imprint. “I definitely did not want to use my own name—instead, I wanted something that felt young and fun and unique,” she said. “When ‘Flamingo’ popped up, I realized that it is such a fun word to write and say and look at—which to me embodies everything a picture book embodies.”

The imprint’s logo—revealed here for the first time—had a similarly propitious genesis, Anastas explained. It was created by Nina Dunhill, a friend from her hometown of Pelham, N.Y., who coincidentally once worked as a children’s book designer at Viking (under Denise Cronin, currently v-p and art director of Penguin Young Readers.). “Nina offered to design the Flamingo logo, and when she sent it to me, I loved it immediately,” Anastas said. “Every time I see it, I am amazed all over again that Nina, who is such a close friend and was part of the Viking family, actually designed it!”

Anastas, who anticipates that Flamingo will release approximately eight titles annually, is grateful that her new position “gives me the freedom to pursue an idea that I love—and go with it. That is my passion.” She is also pleased to have the chance to contribute to the literary legacy of such a storied house. “Viking has such an impressive picture book list of classics like Madeline and Corduroy and more recently, Llama Llama,” she said. “My hope is that the Flamingo list will complement those timeless books.”

I Am Smart, I Am Blessed, I Can Do Anything! by Alissa Holder and Zulekha Holder-Young, illus. by Nneka Myers. Viking/Flamingo, $17.99 Jan. 2021 ISBN 978-0-5932-0660-7

Hugo and the Impossible Thing by Renée Felice Smith and Chris Gabriel, illus. by Sydney Hanson. Viking/Flamingo, $17.99 Mar. 2021 ISBN 978-0-5932-0463-4

Hello World by Kelly Corrigan, illus. by Stacy Ebert. Viking/Flamingo, $17.99 Apr. 2021 ISBN 978-0-5932-0606-5