Harper Collins, the internationally-renowned children’s book publisher, has just announced a major five-book deal with the #1 New York Times best selling and Newbery medal award-winning author Neil Gaiman.

Since 1991, Gaiman has received many internationally-acclaimed awards for his short stories and novels for children and adults. His works are known worldwide, especially his popular novels, including Stardust, The Graveyard Book, Odd and the Frost Giants, and Coraline, which was also made into an animated film.  Gaiman was the first author to win the Newbery medal and the Carnegie medal for his book, The Graveyard Book.

Now, with the new multi-book deal with Harper Collins, Gaiman will be focusing his works more on children. Toddlers will be fascinated by his two upcoming picture books, which center around an adorable little panda named Chu, who has a big sneeze. The storyline was inspired by Gaiman’s visit to China.  The first book, Chu’s Day, features illustrations by Adam Rex and will be published on January 8, 2013.

Gaiman will also be writing three comedic novels for middle school-aged children.  The first novel, Fortunately, will showcase illustrations by Skottie Young, and the second novel will be a sequel to Odd and the Frost Giants. The title for the third novel has not yet been announced.

-Julie Griffin
Author of the upcoming book
Cristina Gradina, The Girl With The Ten Busy Toes

In line with their continuous advocacy to provide support and assistance to indie booksellers, Massachusetts-based children’s book publisher, Candlewick Press, is launching a picture book project, by which indie booksellers will be provided with a picture book boutique complete with merchandise.

The Candlewick Handselling Indie Recognition Program (CHIRP) will be providing generous assistance to indie booksellers in launching their fall 2012 front list picture books, beginning in August.  The benefits will include order discounts, collateral merchandise like standees, bookmark holders, shelf talkers, consumer giveaways, and incentives to frontline staff.

CHIRP was launched in 2010 in an effort to support independent booksellers throughout the country. Candlewick Press provides participating booksellers with CHIRP boxes, which include display materials for the titles published by the company. There have also been several drawings held for participating booksellers, which give them a chance to win various prizes, such as scholarships and free trips.

In addition to the CHIRP box and generous terms offered by Candlewick Press to indie booksellers, the publishing company will also be featuring one video each day for the entire year. These will showcase how picture books have touched the lives of different illustrators, teachers, readers, and authors. Booksellers who participated in that aspect of the project will be entered into a drawing for a free trip to the ABA’s Winter Institute 8 in Kansas City in February 2013.

-Julie Griffin
Author of the upcoming book
Cristina Gradina, The Girl With The Ten Busy Toes

Book authors will be likely to see an increase in their social media fans and followers thanks to a new Facebook app recently launched by HarperCollins. Called Like to Read, the new app is designed to better promote books – especially new releases – by making more excerpts available to readers.

The Like to Read app works by providing a Facebook page of a new book for fans to Like each time they want a new excerpt to be released. Facebook users will simply Like the page, and if a certain numbers of Likes is achieved, an excerpt of the book will be released. Each time that happens, a new Likes goal is established in order to release the next excerpt.  So, ultimately, users will be in charge of determining if and when new book excerpts are released.

The first book that HaperCollins launched to initiate the new Facebook app was Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes.  The book was launched in May and so far has earned 7,324 likes and 18,630 total views.

HarperCollins plans to launch more books soon to help authors gather an increased online fan base and spread the word to more audiences.  By putting fans in charge of the release of excerpts, they are become excited and help to spread the word so they can read more.

-Julie Griffin
Author of the upcoming book
Cristina Gradina, The Girl With The Ten Busy Toes

Teen and YA books have been growing in popularity as more and more young people are becoming enthusiastic about reading books. In order to strengthen their connection to their growing teen market, internationally renowned publisher HarperCollins recently launched a teen interactive platform called Epic Reads.

The goal of Epic Reads is to connect teen readers to the different authors and books under the HarperCollins name. It is an online community that makes it easier to establish a reader-author connection because young readers can learn more about the books they are reading and get to know the authors behind each one.

Epic Reads is comprised of three channels. Epic Reads, the first channel, is the main landing page, where all the books and authors are featured. The second channel, Pitch Dark, centers on dystopian and paranormal books, and the third channel, Story Crush, features realistic fiction and romance books.

Users who want to be a part of the new platform can sign in on the website or through Facebook or Google. Once they have registered, they can start interacting with other users as well as authors. They will be able to join chats and forums and even chat with the authors themselves. In addition to user interaction, they can also upload photos and videos and participate in contests and polls.

Authors can also register and participate on the Epic Reads website to foster relationships with their fans.  In addition to interacting and chatting with them, they can also link their blogs and social media accounts to the website.

-Julie Griffin
Author of the upcoming book
Cristina Gradina, The Girl With The Ten Busy Toes

One of the most beloved children’s book classics from the 1970s will soon come to life on screen. The Jim Henson Company has announced that it will be turning Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad into an animated feature film.  Frog and Toad is a four-book series that was penned between 1970 and 1979, and it follows the adventures of two amphibian friends.  Despite their different personalities and appearances, Frog and Toad share a friendship that results in many funny and sentimental stories.

The Jim Henson Company, an internationally acclaimed leader in family entertainment and the creator of The Muppets, will produce an animated version of the books to bring their great values and entertainment into the present day for today’s generation to enjoy. The Jim Henson Company’s very own CEO, Lisa Henson, will produce the animated film with Adam Lobel and Adrianne Lobel as executive producers.  Cory Edwards, director of the 2005 animated film “Hoodwinked”, will direct the film and Craig Bartlett, creator of “Dinosaur Train” and “Hey Arnold”, is the screenwriter.

Aside from the animated film feature, The Jim Henson Company also announced the licensing and merchandising programs for Frog and Toad after signing a deal with HarperCollins Children’s Books. The company will be offering licensed products featuring the two main characters in the forms of toys, home furnishings, clothing, accessories, and other gift items.

-Julie Griffin
Author of the upcoming book
Cristina Gradina, The Girl With The Ten Busy Toes

A simple act of kindness will go a long way to combat the increasingly heightened bullying that occurs at schools.  In line with this, Random House has launched a kindness campaign called “Choose Kind”, which encourages students, teachers, families, and readers of different age groups to participate in battling bullying through everyday acts of kindness. Chip Gibson, President of Random House, recently announced the launch of the campaign, and it will be supported by Random House UK as well.

Choose Kind advocacy was inspired by the debut novel of R.J. Palacio entitled Wonder. It tells the story of a fifth grade boy named Auggie, who has a facial deformity, and his experiences while attending a mainstream school for the first time. The children’s book was first released last March but an adult version will be published by Random House UK on June 6, 2012.

Choose Kind is an online campaign, where users can share their experiences about being bullied, connect with other users, sign pledges to end bullying, and access resources on anti-bullying efforts.  The website also features a trailer of Wonder, book reviews, and information about the author and how to connect with her.

-Julie Griffin
Author of the upcoming book
Cristina Gradina, The Girl With The Ten Busy Toes

Cartoon Network’s hit cartoon series, Adventure Time, will soon surpass the limitations of the TV screen. Starting in July, kids ages 6 to 11, teens, and young adults will get to see more of their favorite characters, Finn the Human and Jake the Dog, in a new book series.

Adventure Time is an animated TV series about the adventures of a 14-year-old boy and his best friend, who happens to be a magical dog, in the Land of Ooo.  This hit animation was made into a full-length series by Cartoon Network in 2010, after starting off as a short series in Nickelodeon’s Random! Cartoons.

Penguin Young Readers Group has been licensed by Cartoon Network to publish the Adventure Time books.  Penguin will retain all the rights to publish the Adventure Time book series in all formats, including novelty, storybooks, and activity. The books themselves will come in unusual trip shapes and sizes.

Four titles are already in line for the July launch date, including a storybook (Adventure Time Mad Libs), a journal (Dude-It-Yourself Adventure Journal), and two sticker/activity books (It’s a Slamacowtastic Story Mix-Up and Righteous Rules for Being Awesome).  Penguin said that two to four new titles will be launched every season.

Aside from the book series, Cartoon Network is planning additional products with the Adventure Time theme, including interactive games, apparel, accessories, and calendars.

-Julie Griffin
Author of the upcoming book
Cristina Gradina, The Girl With The Ten Busy Toes