Detroit-area publisher children’s book publisher Cardinal Rule Press has just doubled in size after its acquisition of the assets of Bucket Fillers, a children’s publisher headquartered in Venice, Fla., that also publishes puzzles and educational materials, including multimedia teaching tools. Bucket Fillers will become an imprint of Cardinal Rule.

According to a release, the deal includes the transfer of “all book sales, presentations, and permissions” from Bucket Fillers founder and publisher Carol McLoud to Cardinal Rule publisher Maria Dismondy as of July 1.

"It is time for me to step away from running a business in order to concentrate on writing," McCloud told PW . "Cardinal Rule is a perfect fit. Their cardinal rule is kindness. They publish amazing children’s books that teach values. Maria Dismondy is young, energetic and passionate about kids reading great books. She is highly qualified to continue spreading our message through books, sessions and activities."

Founded in 2015, Cardinal Rule’s mission is to “publish high-quality children’s literature that empowers children through timeless messages of hope, courage, and the Golden Rule." One of its bestselling titles is Chocolate Milk, Por Favor! by Dismondy, a 2015 release with sales that spiked during the Black Lives Matter protests following George Floyd’s murder. Cardinal Rule, which publishes four titles each year, has 25 titles in print.

Launched in 2006 with the release of McLoud’s book, Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids, Bucket Fillers’s mission is “to help all ages grow in kindness, self-control, resilience and forgiveness, all leading to a happier life by teaching the three rules that lead to greater happiness: be kind; don’t be mean; protect your bucket and the buckets of others.” According to McCloud's books, one's bucket is a metaphor for one's mental and emotional health and well-being.

In addition to its educational materials, there are 10 Bucket Fillers titles in print, all written by McCloud. Dismondy said that Cardinal Rule will update the covers on the Bucket Fillers bestsellers and “modernize” the content with such tweaks as adding a feature that Cardinal Rule is known for: questions for parents to ask their children before, during, and after reading the book.

Describing the events leading up to the acquisition as “serendipitous,” Dismondy told PW that she and McLoud have been friendly professional colleagues since 2016, when their distributor, Partners Book Distributing, declared bankruptcy and closed. “We were both in search of what to do next. I went to IPG, and she followed me over there,” Dismondy said.

With three million copies of its books sold, Bucket Fillers is, Dismondy said, “about three times as big as Cardinal Rule Press. We’re at the million copy mark. We are both very dedicated to the idea of empowering children with positive messages. Carol was very comfortable in selling her company to me as she knew I was going in the same direction as where she built her legacy.”

Noting that Bucket Fillers publishes educational materials in French and Spanish, Dismondy said that she was excited to move Cardinal Rule “more into that area" of foreign languages. She also, she said, is establishing a speakers program similar to one that Bucket Fillers used to sponsor, with speakers presenting in schools and to organizations on such subjects as team-building and the importance of kindness in one’s dealings with other people. “Covid really stopped Bucket Fillers’s speakers program,” Dismondy said, “And we are bringing that back.”

Bucket Fillers’s three employees have received severance pay, and Cardinal Rule’s 16 part-time employees will assume responsibility for the Bucket Fillers list and other assets as well as Cardinal Rule’s list. Cardinal Rule intends to hire four new part-time employees.