freaky for Sixth Sense
Now kids can read about those cranky, vomiting corpses ad nauseam. Scholastic has inked a multititle deal with Spyglass Entertainment to develop an original book series based on last year’s feel-good fright flick The Sixth Sense. Scholastic will release the first book, Survivor (US$5.99), in September, and will follow it up with regular quarterly releases. (Can the TV series be far behind?) As part of the deal, last month Scholastic also published a novelization of the movie, which includes a Q&A with the film’s director and writer M. Night Shyamalan.
Scholastic has also added another title to its historical/fiction franchise of Dear America books. The new series, called My America, will also be written in a diary format, but will target readers in the seven to 10 age range, which is slightly younger than the core readership for the DA books. The first two titles (US$8.95 each) will both hit stores in July. My Brother’s Keeper by Mary Pope Osborne is about a young girl who lives with her brother during the time of the American Revolution, while Patricia Hermes’s Our Strange New Land tracks the progress of a young pioneer as she struggles to survive in 17th century Virginia. Scholastic plans to market the titles through targeted print advertising on the DA Web site (dearamerica.com) and via an on-line contest. Scholastic will also ship Dear America locket premiums along with the books to retailers, while supplies last.
Dark Horse corrals
Digimon comic license
Saban Consumer Products has licensed Dark Horse Comics to create a series of comic books based on anime TV show Digimon: Digital Monsters, which currently airs on Fox Kids Network in the U.S. The deal calls for Dark Horse to publish and distribute 12 books initially, though there are discussions underway to produce additional titles. Starting in May, Dark Horse will distribute the first four Digi comics at mass outlets (where they will be bundled together in polybags) and at specialty comic book and convenience stores (where the issues will be sold individually). The first four Digi titles will feature stories adapted from episodes of the TV show, with the subsequent eight titles featuring all-original stories. Saban, which handles all North American merchandising rights for Digimon, except video games, toys and trading cards, will market the comics through the trade and consumer press, on its Web site (foxkids.com) and via on-pack advertising on various Fox Kids/Saban licensed merchandise.
In an unrelated deal, Saban has also licensed Scholastic to create two Digimon activity books-Digimon: The Official Picture Scrapbook (US$5.99) and Digimon: How to Draw Digimon (US$4.99). Both books will ship to retail in May.
PBS puts its stamp on kids books
In a bid to extend its reach to children beyond the small screen, PBS has partnered with Simon & Schuster imprint Simon Spotlight to create PBS Kids, a new imprint under which it will publish books based on select kids TV shows that air on the U.S. pubcaster. According to Ann Blakey, VP of licensing and distribution at PBS, the company expects to release one new project every year, though she wouldn’t confirm whether the company would publish multiple titles for each program.
The first title PBS has slated for release, based on the preschool wildlife program Zoboomafoo, will hit stores in 2001; the second title, based on Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat, will follow in 2002. Originally based on the picture book by Amy Tan, Sagwa is currently being developed into an animated series by Montreal’s Ciné-Groupe, CTW and Encino, California-based IF/X Productions and is scheduled to air on PBS in fall 2001.
Simon & Schuster will work with show producers to develop content based on the TV programs and will also oversee marketing and distribution of all the PBS Kids books at retail.
Blakey says PBS will also promote the titles on its Web site, through contests and via a PBS Kids Readers club, which it will establish before the books’ retail launch in 2001. The company also plans to cross-promote the books with PBS videos and other licensed PBS Kids-branded product.
hops on the wagon
Penguin Putnam has signed a four-book deal with Radio Flyer, a Northbrook, Illinois-based manufacturer of upscale red wagons for kids. Under its Dutton Books imprint, Penguin will publish one full-color picture book, two board books and a lift-the-flap book that will feature stories on the Radio Flyer Wagons. The titles, which are targeted to kids in the three-to-seven age range, will retail for US$6.99 to US$12 and will hit book specialty and mass outlets in fall 2001.