Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck, is the latest company to join the growing ranks of children's audio publishers. The kids' audio line will make its debut April 3 with the release of The One and Only Shrek! a compendium of picture book titles by William Steig, narrated by actors--and well-loved audiobook narrators--Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci, who read three stories each.

The audio kick-off dovetails with the launch of Holtzbrinck's Square Fish children's imprint, which will publish the deluxe hardcover edition of the Steig collection. "A children's audio line is something we've been considering since I started here [in 2002]," said Audio Renaissance publisher Mary Beth Roche. "We have such a wealth of spectacular children's books at Holtzbrinck and we were always looking for a way to bring them to audio. The timing, with the launch of Square Fish just seemed right." Also likely to give the Steig recording a boost—and several promotional tie-in opportunities—is the observance of what would have been the late author's 100th birthday this year, and the release of the feature film Shrek the Third on May 18.

Roche said the children's audio line will develop organically at first with no prescribed number of titles. Next up are two high-profile projects planned for fall: a trilogy of Natalie Babbitt novels including her classic Tuck Everlasting (formerly published by Listening Library) and a special 40th Anniversary book-and-CD edition of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin and Eric Carle.

This article originally appeared in the March 15, 2007 issue of PW Daily. For more information about PW Daily, including a sample and subscription information,click here»