All About the Emberleys

Ed Emberley, author of 100 books including Go Away, Big Green Monster!, along with his wife Barbara and daughter Rebecca, have sold a majority interest in their existing intellectual properties to International Literary Properties. ILP will relaunch the catalogs of all three creators under the cohesive Everything Emberley brand.

“It just felt like the right time and the right people,” said Rebecca Emberley, who negotiated the deal, advised by agent Rick Richter of Aevitas Creative Management, on behalf of the family.

The Everything Emberley brand will focus on promoting creativity and confidence among children ages 3–12. “What I love about the Emberleys is their belief that through the teaching of art we can engage the development of social-emotional learning,” said Molly Cusick, v-p literary at ILP. Describing the new brand as in the tradition of The World of Eric Carle and The Busy, Busy World of Richard Scarry, she also noted the appeal of the imagery: “It feels so very now, but it’s also very timeless.”

ILP, as a global company that invests in, acquires, and manages literary estates, plans to make a substantial investment in developing Everything Emberley. The first initiative planned as part of the new venture will be a website containing materials for teachers, parents, caregivers, and other adults in the lives of the target audience, launching in early 2022.

Ed Emberley illustrated or contributed to more than 100 books, especially in the 1960s through 1980s. Many of his works were in collaboration with Barbara and later Rebecca, who has written more than 40 books of her own as well, including a series of bilingual board books. (Her future work is not included as part of this deal.) In addition to Go Away, Big Green Monster!, which has sold more than a million copies, Ed is known for illustrating the 1968 Caldecott winner Drummer Hoff (written by Barbara), as well as his 1970s Drawing Book series. All told, the Emberleys’ work has sold more than 10 million copies.

An announcement about new Everything Emberley publishing will be forthcoming, Cusick said. The program will focus on giving a lift to titles that remain available, bringing back titles that have gone out of print, and creating new formats and characters, as well as working with existing publishers on synergies and brand consistency across the Emberleys’ diverse publishing ventures.

ILP has a first-look deal with BBC Studios, and animation is also part of the vision for the new brand. “We have lots of great material for animation that can help us keep things alive and fresh and reach more kids,” said Rebecca Emberley. Licensed merchandise, including apparel, toys, and art supplies, is also under consideration.

The signature Big Green Monster, whose image is peeking over the new Everything Emberley logo and has social-emotional learning at its core, will be a focal point of the program, but ILP plans to mine the entire portfolio. Cusick said, “We’re looking at the catalog holistically for every possible opportunity to unearth unknown gems and bring them to a new audience.”

From December 18, 2021, through June 12, 2022, the Eric Carle Museum is featuring an exhibition of Ed Emberley’s art and work.

Ladybird Is Ready to Learn with Peppa

Hasbro, the licensor of Peppa Pig since its acquisition of Entertainment One (eOne) in 2019, is launching an early-years educational initiative called Learn with Peppa. The program includes a Hasbro-produced app and an extensive global publishing program from Penguin Random House U.K.’s Ladybird imprint, Peppa’s master publishing licensee outside North America.

While most Peppa Pig publishing incorporates an element of learning, as the long-running TV show does, this is a more formal program crossing multiple subject areas that children progress through, step-by-step, at their own pace, measuring their results along the way. “It’s sort of a hybrid that lies between formal curriculum and soft learning,” said Michael Kelly, v-p global publishing. “The intent is to provide children and parents with a more structured learning experience.”

“There is all the excitement of reading and engaging with your favorite characters, along with an age-appropriate pedagogic structure,” said Amy Anderson, editorial director at Ladybird. “You’re steadily building skills in an age-appropriate way.”

The app will be the first component introduced, in late 2022, and complements the books. “We wanted a broad program people could interact with in different ways,” Kelly said, noting that parents can make the decision about whether to use books, audio, the app, or some combination, depending on their child’s learning style and interests.

Ladybird’s publishing program will include 80 titles within the first year. The company’s Peppa Pig list is the largest licensed preschool publishing range in the U.K., with more than 15 million books sold in that country as of September 2021. The new initiative will be differentiated through its own distinct look-and-feel, according to Anderson, and will use the character of Madame Gazelle, Peppa’s teacher, to help guide children through the books and highlight learning opportunities.

The program will feature formats including five levels of phonics books—set for a January 2023 release and accounting for 70 of the initial 80 titles—with 10 activity, audio, board, and novelty books to follow in spring 2023. In addition to reading, the books will cover academic subjects such as basic math, exploration of the world (basic science), and handwriting; concepts such as colors; and social-emotional learning topics such as friendship and sharing. Content across subjects will integrate life skills, such as getting dressed; creativity and imagination; and physical activities when possible. There will also be cross-curricular links between the different subjects as well.

“It’s a big launch to be sure,” Kelly said. The reason is twofold. First, the partners wanted to introduce a full program out of the gate so parents and children could have options and decide what subject and level is right for them. Second, Peppa’s popularity can sustain a large program. “Parents and kids love Peppa and want to interact with her,” Kelly explained.

Ladybird has English-language rights, excluding North America, and will manage rights for most other languages. Anderson said Ladybird is working to make the program flexible enough to work in different markets, as well as collaborating with its publishing partners to ensure the educational content is tied to early-learning norms in their respective regions. Learn with Peppa does not yet include North America, but Kelly said an announcement about that market is likely forthcoming early next year.

The hope is that educators as well as parents and caregivers embrace the program. Ladybird is developing supporting materials such as PDFs and blog posts, not just to guide parents but for teachers to use in the classroom. “We’re thinking about it as broadly as possible,” Anderson said.

Run-DMC Co-Founder and Random House Publish Picture Book

Random House Children’s Books is releasing a new picture book by Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, founding member of the rap group Run-DMC. The title, Darryl’s Dream, will come out in print and ebook form under the Random House Books for Young Readers imprint on January 4, 2022, as well as in an audiobook edition, read by McDaniels and offered through Listening Library.

The book is based on McDaniel’s childhood and is about a shy third grader who wears thick glasses and, despite being teased, wants to share his talents in rhymes. Its themes include creativity, confidence, and finding your voice, as young Darryl learns to celebrate himself.

“Darryl is a music pioneer and legend and has been doing a lot to improve the lives of children,” said Chris Angelilli, Random House’s v-p and editor-in-chief of licensed publishing. Some of McDaniels’s achievements include launching the Felix Organization, a nonprofit supporting kids in foster care, appearing before Congress on behalf of adoptees and foster kids, working with Michelle Obama on her Let’s Move! campaign, and speaking on respect and responsibility. He also owns a comic book company called Darryl Makes Comics and has made appearances at Comic Con. “He’s a real humanitarian and renaissance man,” Angelilli said.

ViacomCBS and McDaniels developed the project and presented the finished book to Random House. “We liked the story and the message, and the illustrations,” said Angelilli, who added that serious discussions are ongoing about more books for 2022 and into 2023, including more titles featuring the young Darryl character as well as other formats.

Random House is one of the first licensees of ViacomCBS and Nickelodeon’s new cross-category licensing program centered on McDaniels, who is also providing his voice for the literacy program What’s the Word? on the company’s Noggin interactive leaning service. Books from Random House, one of Nickelodeon’s longtime publishing partners, join other McDaniels products including apparel and accessories available through the Nickelodeon store on Amazon.

In Brief

Dr. Seuss Enterprises paired with rental-management platform Vacasa for a limited-time experience that brings to life the Grinch’s cave north of Who-ville. Visitors can book a stay at the cave, in a mountain near Boulder, Utah, for $19.57 per night (a nod to the book’s publication year) over a 10-day period in December. Décor includes Max’s drum set; Seussian gadgets and appliances; and supplies to make real roast beast, Who-pudding, and Who-hash. Separately, DSE announced new licensing deals in Canada, through agent Segal Licensing, including Bioworld Canada for accessories and bags, home goods, and stationery; Palmula CD Group for fruit bars and bites; and Aquarius Entertainment Merchandising for games, puzzles, and playing cards.... MerryMakers is launching a new phase of Pete the Cat licensing with products based on the animated TV series produced by Alcon Television and Amazon Studios, which has aired on Amazon since late 2018. The new look will give the property entry into mass-market retail channels, complementing the classic Pete the Cat products. The latter feature artwork from the books created by author-illustrator James Dean.... Ninja Life Hacks, a book-based property focused on social-emotional learning, was licensed to Fathead for vinyl wall graphics, cutouts, and wall hangings.... Barefoot Books partnered with Julian Lennon’s White Feather Foundation for a “Planet Protector Pack” containing several books on environmental topics, a tote bag, a photo print contributed by Lennon, and a live plant, with $10 from each purchase going to the foundation.... Some literary licensing news from the U.K. and Europe: Wimpy Kid, Inc. retained Brands with Influence as its licensing agent in the U.K.... Penguin Ventures has retained Caravanserai as its licensing agent for Classic Peter Rabbit in Spain and Portugal, as well as launching a new Peter Rabbit attraction with Merlin Entertainments on the seashore in Blackpool, England.... McDonald’s U.K. featured Mr. Men and Little Miss in a Happy Meal promotion to mark the property’s 50th anniversary.