Board books, picture books, activity books, and novelty books are among the array of formats that will be released by Little Genius Books, an independent children’s publisher that will roll out its debut titles next April. Jeremy Nurnberg, a former v-p at Igloobooks and v-p of sales at Sterling Publishing, is the publisher of Little Genius, whose list will be distributed in North America by Simon & Schuster.
Nurnberg’s book publishing career spans 25 years, but the industry has been part of his life for much longer than that. “I grew up in the publishing business—books have been in my blood since the day I was born,” said Nurnberg, whose father, Charles Nurnberg, was CEO and publisher of Sterling Publishing for three decades, beginning in the late 1970s.
In recent years, children’s books have played a new, pivotal role in Jeremy Nurnberg’s life. “I have two children, ages five and seven, and there is no shortage of books in our home,” he said. “During the pandemic, we have been spending a lot of time together, playing among our bookshelves, so to speak, and my kids have served as my focus group as I pulled together the Little Genius list.”
Nurnberg, who works in close collaboration with teammates Sean Sullivan and Colleen Fitzgerald, noted that the company’s spring list reflects Little Genius’s focus on “a diverse range of titles with innovative formats, vibrant color palettes that really pop, and compelling fictional and nonfictional content for children, from infants to age six, with ages three to five as our sweet spot.” Nurnberg estimated that the company will eventually publish 35 to 40 books annually and said that the list may include books for older readers in the future.
First out of the gate are Hello! Hometown Heroes by Toni Armier, a board book introducing workers who improve our neighborhood and lives; Get Ready for Preschool and Get Ready for Kindergarten, workbooks containing 150 activities and two wipe-off activity boards; Little Genius: Solar System by Joe Rhatigan, a rhyming board book introduction to the night sky; and I Love You More Than… and My Best Friend Is…, two board books featuring pictures of young animals and full-page flaps that reveal messages of love and friendship.
Further expanding Little Genius’s publishing scope is a second wave of titles, due out in summer, which include Can You Find It? Cars and Trucks on the Road, a counting search-and-find board book with a six-page gatefold; two titles in the Extended Nursery Rhymes series by Rhatigan, The Itsy Bitsy Spider and Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, re-imaginings of these rhymes; Bumpy Rumps: Farm Animals and Bumpy Rumps: Jungle Animals, board books featuring various textures; and Rhatigan’s What Makes Me Happy, which imparts the message that lasting happiness depends more on who you are and what you believe in than what you have.
Nurnberg called launching a publishing company in these times “a little daunting, but very exciting,” and said he is grateful for the depth and breadth of his experience. “I am fortunate to have grown up in the business, and to have had the opportunity to work in so many areas, from sales and marketing to editorial, production, and warehousing, and even retail,” he noted. “I think I have a pretty good understanding of the entire organizational process, and I’m happy to be involved with all of it now. I am also excited to be partnering with Simon & Schuster. Over recent years, I have been impressed with the growth and commitment Michael Perlman and his team have made to the distribution model. Simon & Schuster has shown a commitment to true partnership with all of their publishers, and I could not imagine a better team to help launch Little Genius Books into the hands of children everywhere.”