Pet Hospital

HarperEntertainment will publish a series of Beginner Reader Books, starting in May, based on the toy brand Li'l Pet Hospital, created by Kenn Viselman presents.... KVp was founded in 2002 by high-profile licensing executive Viselman, known for his work on Teletubbies, Eloise and Thomas the Tank Engine. The award-winning plush toys and accessories, based on the concepts of nurturing and healing, premiered in fall 2002 at FAO Schwarz and quickly rolled out to Toys 'R' Us and K•B Toys. More licensing plans are in the works.

"It always amazes me when someone takes a classic and interprets it in a new way," said Hope Innelli, v-p and editorial director, HarperEntertainment, who says Li'l Pet Hospital puts a new spin on nurture toys. "It's a great starting point for a book." The first titles will be The Great Race and The Peanut Garden, with additional releases every other month. HarperEntertainment and KVp intend to cross-market the books with the toys.

Also new from KVp is a series of preschool books, starting with I Love You Bunches, written by Viselman and published by KVp's new publishing imprint, Barron Printing Press. Toy stores launched the rhyming and counting book in January. "I wanted it to be completely about love," said Viselman of the series. A sequel, My Special Gift, is planned for fall; licensed plush, candy and gifts will be available at FAO Schwarz and Zany Brainy.

In Brief

Big Tent Entertainment and Barnes & Noble are teaming up for in-store boutiques and a gift-with-purchase promotion focused on Dick Bruna's Miffy & Friends, starting this month. Products featured include 15 Miffy & Friends book titles, plush and gift items.... Marc Brown Studios named Cinar the Canadian licensing agent for Arthur. Cinar produces the Arthur TV show.... Nelvana announced a five-day-a-week TV series based on The Berenstain Bears, which premiered in January on PBS Kids. Meanwhile, George Shrinks expanded from weekly to daily airings.... HBO Family will premiere a weekly animated series based on Stuart Little, produced by Sony Pictures Television, in March.... Tokyopop releases a manga series based on the Japanese-origin TV series Digimon, as well as Cine-Manga (full-color books in storyboard format) based on the Lizzie McGuire and Kim Possible TV series. All three properties are licensed by Disney.... Candlewick Press and RJM Licensing authorized Mudpuppy Press (a division of Galison) to produce puzzles and Genius Products to create music CDs and cassettes based on Guess How Much I Love You. Characters and text from the book will appear on a 2×3—foot floor puzzle.... Nickelodeon granted videogame rights to ActiVision for Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, which it is developing as a feature film with Paramount Pictures.... Scholastic publishes chapter, coloring, activity, picture and novelty books tied to the animated series Hamtaro, under license from ShoPro USA. Hamtaro launched on Cartoon Network in June 2002.... Sesame Workshop launched a three-month exclusive promotion with retail chain Mervyn's in support of Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat. A sweepstakes tied in to Chinese New Year.... Nick Jr. introduced Max & Ruby online three weeks prior to its January 6 TV premiere. The site featured an interview with Rosemary Wells.... Fremantle Media is in talks with publishers about a companion book to the second round of American Idol, which premiered in January. Last August, Bantam released a companion book for young adults tied to the first series.