Founded in the U.K. in 2019, Welbeck Children’s Publishing Group currently publishes an array of nonfiction in the U.S. under three imprints: Welbeck Children’s, Welbeck Editions, and Mortimer Children’s. The number of titles released in this country, all of which are Americanized from the U.K. editions, will jump from 60 books in 2020 to 80 in 2021. And next year, the company’s offerings will grow further with the introduction of its two inaugural fiction imprints for children, Welbeck Flame and Orange Mosquito, which will debut worldwide in January 2022.

The mission of Welbeck Flame, the publisher explained in a statement, is to “publish middle-grade fiction full of hope, heart, and humor; originality of voice; and above all stories that transport readers to worlds beyond their own.” Welbeck Flame will launch with two series: the After School Detective Club begins in January with The Case of the Smuggler’s Curse; and Luma and Her Pet Dragon is a February release starting up a series of the same name.

A second new fiction imprint, Orange Mosquito, created in partnership with Mosquito Books of Barcelona, will issue approximately 20 books annually for children and teens. Specific titles have yet to be announced.

Jane Harris, Welbeck’s group publisher for children’s books, noted that incorporating fiction into the publishing program “had always been in the plan,” and emphasized the propitious timing of its implementation. “In today’s challenging world, the importance and relevance of storytelling could not be more pertinent, especially for children,” she said. “Developing a new children’s fiction list to complement Welbeck’s existing list of illustrated nonfiction is exciting and one that we believe will intrigue authors, illustrators, and agents. We have a strong and clear vision for growing our children’s business and adding fiction to the division will enable us to reach even more readers in the U.S. and Canada.”

Nonfiction Continues to Flourish

While heralding its move into fiction, the publisher has also announced additions to its nonfiction imprints. Welbeck Children’s, which publishes illustrated nonfiction encompassing STEM themes, history, nature, the environment, hobbies, and mental well-being, has two food-themed lead titles for fall. Due in October is Annabel Karmel’s Fun, Fast & Easy Children’s Cookbook, “a kitchen companion” for children ages five and up and their parents, illustrated by Bryony Clarkson. Karmel’s numerous earlier cookbooks for children include the bestselling Real Food Kids Will Love. And scheduled for December release is My Vegan Year: The Young Person’s Seasonal Guide to Going Vegan by Niki Webster, illustrated by Anna Stiles.

Welbeck Editions, a “boutique” imprint focusing on highly designed, illustrated picture books and nonfiction titles, welcomes a trio of middle-grade titles in the fall. Written by Joe Fullman and illustrated by Rose Blake, The World Book is an almanac highlighting key facts and stats about countries across the world. And Robert Ingpen Illustrated Classics will release reissues of Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.

And next up from Mortimer Children’s, a self-described “trend-led imprint” that taps into popular culture, gaming, and licensing brands, are two board books in the How Many Sleeps ‘til…? series: Halloween and Christmas and Secrets of a Fortnite Fan 3: Llama Drama, a paperback novel written by Eddie Robson and illustrated by Oscar Herrero, in which a Fortnite-obsessed boy deals with his real-life drama.

Getting Up and Running Stateside

Welbeck has hired several publishing veterans to build the business and oversee sales and marketing initiatives in the U.S., and plans to further expand its dedicated publishing team for the U.S. and Canada in 2022. Kim Brown, v-p of sales and marketing for North America, leads the current initiatives for Welbeck’s expansion in this country. She is assisted by Josalyn Moran, director of new business for children’s books, and Michelle F. Bayuk, who heads up children’s marketing. Brown explained that the company has recently lined up “the very knowledgeable and engaged team” at Two Rivers to handle North American sales and distribution for its list, which she described as “broad—with a little something for everyone, including commercial board books for more mass-market accounts, higher end nonfiction books for specialty gift stores, and loads of nonfiction that is perfect for schools and libraries.”

Harris underscored the wide range of talent and experience represented by Welbeck staffers on both sides of the Atlantic. “We have people in all parts of the company who have worked for major publishers on different continents, as well as people who have worked in TV production, recorded music, music publishing, and magazines,” she said. “And we have the size, scale, and reach of a major publishing house with the passion, creativity, and ability to move quickly of an independent publisher.”