Francesca Cavallo and Elena Favilli, creators of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, were named PW Star Watch Superstars at a party at Marquee New York in Manhattan on September 12.
"It's an incredible honor to receive such a prestigious award, coming, as we have, from such an unusual path," Favilli said in her acceptance address. "During this journey, we had many moments of fear, despair, profound self-doubt. But we welcomed those moments as part of the conquest of something bigger."
Cavallo added: "When we got started, it was just the two of us.... Now we have the privilege of working with a team of 20 wildly talented individuals.... And of course, thank you to our incredible readers. You inspire us to keep writing and keep finding ways to bring you beautiful stories, and to continue to elevate the voices of women wherever they live."
Favilli and Cavallo made crowdfunding history in 2016 by raising more than $1.2 million from close to 25,000 backers in 75 countries in a combined Kickstarter and Indiegogo InDemand book ordering campaign for their illustrated children’s book. The book, which they published and distributed themselves through their children’s media start-up, Timbuktu Labs, stayed in the top 10 of the New York Times bestseller’s list for 42 weeks, and in just under two years, combined print sales of the original Rebel Girls volume and a sequel have surpassed three million copies.
"We are delighted to once again host a program that honors the people who are publishing’s future," said Jim Milliot, editorial director of Publishers Weekly.
The Star Watch event was attended by roughly 300 members of the publishing community, according to PW marketing and events director Bryan Kinney, eclipsing last year's crowd of more than 200 book business insiders. The event marked the fourth anniversary of the PW Star Watch program.
As a consequence of the success of the Rebel Girls books and the demand for them, Favilli and Cavallo have grown Timbuktu Labs from a two-person operation and brought in 17 additional full-time employees, and have added offices in New York City and London. Rights have been licensed in more than 45 languages and 70 countries—and the latter number continues to grow.
As part of winning the award, Cavallo and Favilli will travel to the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany—one of many countries where their books are in stores—this October. The trip to the fair is underwritten by FBF, partners with PW in the Star Watch program.