Hasbro is turning the page and taking a publishing-first approach for the first time with its upcoming book The Welcome Wagon: A Cubby Hill Tale. A market demand for kid’s picture books drove Hasbro to partner with New York-based publisher Abrams Children’s Books to launch its new Cubby Hill franchise with a book, which hits stores March 3, 2020.
Cubby Hill is a community of animals who celebrate values of inclusivity and acceptance, and in the upcoming book a curious young bear gathers his friends to welcome a new family moving into the neighbourhood. Written and illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld (Little Bunny Foo Foo: The Real Story, Matilda in the Middle), the book is aimed at kids three- to seven-years-old, in order to reach independent readers and parents reading to kids.
The publication marks the first time Hasbro has launched an IP through books, says Hasbro’s VP of global publishing, Michael Kelly. Although digital content is so prominent in today’s market the company still sees a demand among parents for books they can hold and read with their kids, he adds.
“We’ve seen many studies that tell us parents want to have the experience of reading a book with their children,” Kelly says. “A lot came together with Cubby Hill to make it the right property to launch first as a book. With it, we can reach out to our audience who want to read books about acceptance and being friends, and its simple character designs work well in the picture book format. Also, picture books let children engage with the brand in a special way because kids can pore over the illustrations and the art, which they can’t do with other mediums.”
The brand’s themes of learning to be a good neighbour and empathy are what parents want to read about and will be what helps the brand eventually expand beyond books, says Kelly. Hasbro sees potential to bring the franchise to the screen and launch new consumer products, though to begin with, its focusing on the book market and is in the process of getting another book deal finalized for Cubby Hill, Kelly adds.
This process is an experiment for the toy and entertainment company, but if the book-first approach is a successful way for Hasbro to build a franchise, then the company could certainly do it again, says Kelly.