Sales in Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s trade division rose 5% in the first quarter ended March 31, 2105 over the first quarter of 2014. Revenue in the unit hit $34 million in the most recent period, while the net loss was trimmed to $4.9 million from $5.2 million.

HMH attributed the improved quarter to strong backlist sales of books by J.R.R. Tolkien and Lois Lowry, and continued success with What if? and the Newbery medal winning children’s book, The Crossover. In addition, HMH’s culinary line also had a strong start to the year with the release of The Whole30, The Real Paleo Diet Cookbook, and Cake My Day.

For the entire company, total sales rose 6% in the quarter, to $163 million, but the net loss increased to $160 million from $146 million in the prior year quarter.

Earlier this year, HMH agreed to acquire Scholastic’s educational technology publishing division and the sale is still expected to close soon.