Candlewick Press will soon be donning a party hat and blowing out the candles on a well-lit cake. This fall, the publisher will mark the 20th anniversary of several beloved books and series: Kate DiCamillo’s The Tale of Despereaux, The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds, the Emily Windsnap series by Liz Kessler, and the Dragonology series. As the company looks back on the past two decades, Candlewick shares how it will commemorate the collective occasion.
The Tale of Despereaux: With more than six million copies in print, DiCamillo’s story of a little mouse who sets out to rescue a young princess continues to resonate with young readers. The novel also earned critical accolades, including the Newbery Medal and spots on the ALSC Notable Children’s Book list and PW’s own Best Books list. “The Tale of Despereaux is such a perfect example of what great storytelling can be,” said executive editor Andrea Tompa, who worked on the anniversary edition. “From the very first page, the writing is confident and confiding and it’s clear that readers are in good hands. Plus, what kid can’t relate to the challenges of being small and the desire to emerge as an unlikely hero?”
The fantasy title has since inspired an animated feature film from Universal Pictures and a video game from Brash Entertainment, both from 2008. A special edition, The Tale of Despereaux Deluxe Anniversary Edition: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread (Sept.), will debut the short story, “The Tapestry at Norendy,” which takes place in the same location as the original and features new black-and-white illustrations by Timothy Basil Ering. This release will be followed by DiCamillo’s first book in the Norendy Tales series, The Puppets of Spelhorst (Oct.)—also set in this fairy-tale world, but in a different time—illustrated by Julie Morstad.
To promote Despereaux’s continued saga, DiCamillo will head out on a book tour this fall, including a visit to South Dakota for the One Book One Reads program in September. She will also write a personal essay about the classic book for the Washington Post sometime that month.
The Dot: Peter H. Reynolds’s picture book made its mark in the children’s book world two decades ago, when it was selected as the Chicago Public Library Best Book for Children and Teens was an Honor book for Bank Street College’s Irma Black Award, and won the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award, among other accolades. With more than 2.5 million copies in print, the tale of a frustrated young artist and the teacher who encourages her work celebrates the power of unleashing one’s creativity. The book’s message inspired the founding of International Dot Day, which will celebrate its 15th anniversary in September. Over the years, it has drawn more than 26 million participants in approximately 200 territories.
Kosman credits social media for helping to promote Reynolds’s book and the global initiative, with Candlewick-created hashtags #TheDot, #MakeYourMark and #InternationalDotDay as the most popular. “Some of the most exciting engagement for The Dot on social media is completely organic, though, and reflects widespread love for the book and International Dot Day,” she said, citing a TikTok of an art teacher’s Dot Day outfit, which drew more than a half a million views.
While Candlewick will not be publishing an anniversary edition of The Dot, the company will co-host a meet-and-greet with Reynolds in Boston at the Boch Center in September. In addition, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts will run a series of Dot-themed events and 125 Little Free Libraries nationwide will promote International Dot Day. Later this fall, the brand-new Dot Dot Dot musical, produced by TheaterWorks USA, will play more than 100 performances in 60 locations.
Emily Windsnap: The “tail” of a girl who magically transforms into a mermaid has captivated readers for the past two decades. The initial story imagined by British author Liz Kessler, who originally wrote it as a poem, has expanded into nine middle-grade novels, which have sold 5.5 million copies worldwide. This past spring, the series spawned three new early reader titles illustrated by Joanie Stone, introducing the intrepid character to a new generation. A fourth early reader book, The World of Emily Windsnap: Dolphin Rescue, is due out in June 2024, with a boxed set of the four early readers slated for November 2024.
A deluxe anniversary edition of the first book, Emily Windsnap (Sept.), is designed with a ribbon bookmark and decorative stained edges. Kessler’s story will be prefaced with an author’s note, along with mermaid fun facts and a personality quiz to help readers determine their sea creature type. Candlewick will also be releasing a video from Kessler and hosting virtual events to commemorate the anniversary.
Dragonology: What began as the publication of a single title, Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons by Dr. Ernest Drake and art directed/paper engineered by Nghiem Ta, has since morphed into a bestselling series by Drake, the pen name for Dugald Steer, under the Ologies umbrella. The oversized novelty book, sporting a faux leather cover encrusted with fake jewels, contains tactile features and extras—from a packet of dragon dust to a booklet of riddles. Containing fun facts and dragon expert research, this title snagged an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award, as well as a spot on the International Literacy Association’s Young Adults Choices’ Reading List.
Dragonology spawned 14 additional volumes in the Ologies collection, with themes ranging from dinosaurs to pirates. To date, more than 18 million copies in 17 languages have been sold globally, and the books has been optioned for a film and television series. Further leveraging the Ologies brand are handbooks, fiction titles, coloring books, and models.
Although Candlewick is not planning a revised edition, newly printed copies of Dragonology will be affixed with a 20th anniversary sticker, and activity kits will be available. The company’s social media team are keeping a close watch on BookTok creators, who are helping to maintain the series’ visibility. “The entire Ologies series, starting with Dragonology, began a new era of deluxe and interactive novelty books and publishing production and engineering that new adults and young parents are very nostalgic about,” Kosman said. “It’s exciting to see these iconic books continue to be discovered by a new generation of readers."