TDmonthly Magazine!
June 2006 | Vol. V - No. 6


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Do Judge a Book by Its Cover

Color and Fun Make Kids Books a Smash


“The cliché is not to judge a book by its cover, but in today’s market, the cover is the first most important step, coupled with a timeless story to create a best seller.”Dee Ann Grand, Tommy Nelson
As holiday season 2006 nears, book publishers attempt to bring new products to market that will catch young readers’ eyes. While no one has the recipe for “instant classic,” many have managed to stay profitable by producing everything from trend-setting hits to useful, educational materials that delight and teach at the same time. What’s their recipe for success, and what’s new on the scene this holiday season?

According to Susan Raab, president of Raab Associates Inc., knowing what’s already on book shelves and what’s selling is important, though following trends is not always the best advice. “What can be very effective is to look for holes in the market — look to fill those gaps,” she explained. “These can be in a particular genre, age bracket, format or writing style.”

Also, it can never be stressed enough that what it comes down to is a good writer, and increasingly in today’s fast-paced culture, a good illustrator. Vice president and associate publisher for Tommy Nelson, Dee Ann Grand, put it this way: “The cliché is not to judge a book by its cover, but in today’s market, the cover is the first most important step, coupled with a timeless story to create a best seller.”

Ted Parkhurst, president of August House Inc., said that when it comes to producing popular children’s picture books, “color is the number one thing.” An eye-catching bright red covered book is the company’s all-time best seller. “The second thing is a story that’s fun to read and fun to hear.” Finally, a child protagonist seals the deal, if you’re lucky, he said.

However, Melissa Nowakowski, publicist for Kids Can Press, would argue that the list doesn’t stop there: “The title is another way to make the book stand out,” she said. “A clever or crafty title will pique the curiosity of the consumer, making them want to find out what the book is about and how that title fits in.”

“I always look for an innovative format,” added Julia Sabbagh, creative director of Readers Digest Children’s Publishing. Her company’s focus is novelty books, and licensed products are their bread and butter. While Disney Princesses continues to be strong, other licensed products, such as those related to the “Pirates of the Caribbean,” are expected to be big draws. “We’ve come up with a book and DVD package we’re hoping to be very popular,” she said.

Products that go beyond the printed page cause a big sensation, Jeffrey Assisi, spokesperson for Silver Dolphin Books, agreed. “The majority of our books fall within the ‘books plus’ category — they come with various tchotchkes and doodads. … Everything we come out with has added interactive value.”

The following is some detailed information on new products coming out just in time for the 2006 holiday season.





MSRP: $15.99
Launch Date: May 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Books



In the heart of New York City, beneath a venerable old Broadway theater known as the Sovereign, there sits a long-forgotten architect’s model — the Sovereign’s miniature replica. In this secret space, a troupe of theater mice busily prepare to stage their own show, “Broadway Airs.” Rehearsals are in their usual state of chaos when suddenly the production is threatened by the imminent destruction of the theater and the disappearance of its star. As the clock ticks toward opening night, everyone is worried — will the Sovereign survive? How can they pull off the most important night in mouse theater without the star? Somehow, the show must go on! Theater fans young and old will delight in this humorous insider spoof — written and illustrated by a best-selling team (Julie Andrews Edwards and Emma Walton Hamilton) that has firsthand experience of this much-adored world.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7967      (added 5/24/2006)
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MSRP: $12.99
Age Range: 4 to 6
Launch Date: August 2006
Gender: Girls
Category: Books



In “The Perfect Christmas Gift,” Sheila Walsh has penned a perfectly pink tale of a little princess whose Christmas expectations go a bit over-the-top. As Christmas nears, Gigi is just bursting with anticipation. And when her parents give her a hint about her big gift, "white with a touch of pink," she is absolutely certain she is getting her crown! After days of endless agony, Christmas morning finally arrives, and Gigi searches for a crown-sized box. But there isn't one. Instead, Gigi receives a gift more wonderful than she ever could imagine.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7968      (added 5/24/2006)
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MSRP: $16.95
Age Range: 8 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Books



Did young Henri Matisse create faces out of the peas and carrots on his dinner plate? Probably. Now here’s a chance for kids to release their inner artists and create modern collage masterpieces of their own. Each practical kit comes with a set of basic collage essentials as well as a 48-page book filled with the inspiring stories of famous collage artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Joan Miró, Gustav Klimt and contemporary artists like Nam June Paik. Kids can challenge their creativity with 20 exciting art projects, including their own Matisse-inspired disco dancer collage. The 48-page book is 10” by 10” with full-color illustrations throughout.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7969      (added 5/24/2006)
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MSRP: $9.95
Age Range: 1 and up
Launch Date: October 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Books



Who says “baa, baa?” What does a fish like to do? There are lots of fun, stimulating activities in these new flash cards from the child development specialists at Amazing Baby. The set includes 26 colorful illustrated cards featuring sparkly foil adornments and simple read-aloud text, as well as instructions for simple games and activities. Designed for adults and children to enjoy together, the cards encourage interaction, word association and picture recognition. The pack of 26 cards are 4 ½” by 7 ½” with full-color illustrations throughout.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7970      (added 5/24/2006)
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MSRP: $16.95
Age Range: 8 to 12
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Books



During the Ice Age, woolly mammoths roamed the earth in great herds, but now only their fossilized bones remain. In this all-inclusive kit, young paleontologists can hunt for fossils — and clues — as they attempt to solve a mystery thousands of years old. Utilizing the tools and techniques used by real fossil hunters, kids can unearth the bones of a woolly mammoth and assemble their own museum-style exhibit. This unique interactive kit comes with everything kids need to dig up some fun. The 40-page book is 11 ¾” by 10” with full-color illustrations throughout.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7971      (added 5/24/2006)
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MSRP: $16.95
Age Range: All Ages
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Books



This children's folktale from Panama tells the story of Conejito (little rabbit) who is headed to Tía Mónica's house to get gordito, gordito, gordito from all of her cakes and sweets. Along the way he runs into a tiger, a lion and a fox who all want to eat him, but he explains that he is too flaquito to be any good for eating. He promises that he will be more gordito after he returns from eating yummy food at Tía Mónica's house. Told by Margaret Read MacDonald and illustrated in swooping bright colors by Geraldo Valério, this story introduces kids to Spanish in a flowing, lyrical manner.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 6406      (added 1/9/2006)
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MSRP: $19.95
Age Range: 5 to 8
Launch Date: August 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Books



Wally has made a major scientific discovery: Dinosaurs! With the aid of stunning eyewitness accounts, this book details the habitat, diet, grooming, health and fitness, communication and recreation of dinosaurs, and much more. Wally’s project follows tried-and-true scientific methodology and contains page after page of photographic evidence. But his shocking conclusion is that today’s dinos guard their privacy fiercely. It was written and illustrated by Wallace Edwards, winner of a Governor-General’s Award. The book will be available in stores August 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7972      (added 5/24/2006)
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MSRP: $14.95
Age Range: 10 and up
Launch Date: August 2006
Gender: Girls
Category: Books



With “Stuff to Hold Your Stuff” — the latest addition to the Planet Girl series — fashionable girls can put their creativity to good use and find lots of funky projects that will show off their style. Easy-to-follow instructions lead girls through the creation of satin purses, funky handbags, cool overnight bags, wicked wallets and more. It was written by Ellen Warwick and illustrated by Bernice Lum. The book will be available in stores August 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7973      (added 5/24/2006)
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MSRP: $10.95
Age Range: 4 and up
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Christmas
Books



This book contains many wonderful Christmas songs such as "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," "Up on the Housetop," and more ... all done in color-coded ABC Music. The set includes color-coded ABC stickers that are placed on your keyboard or piano, and then you are off playing right away.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 5266      (added 11/1/2005)
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Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Books



This storybook and movie projector combo pack allows girls to read all about their favorite Disney princesses while watching them on screen at the same time! The set includes one storybook, one portable pink projector and 80 movie images that can be viewed when used in concert with the projector.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7974      (added 5/24/2006)
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MSRP: $17.99
Age Range: 4 to 8
Launch Date: January 2006
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Books
Videos & DVDs



This storybook and DVD set allows boys to read about their favorite Marvel super heroes while they watch classic super hero battles unfold on their television screens! Kids learn about the Hulk, Spider-Man, Wolverine and more. The book is 32 pages and the DVD runs 40 minutes. Launch date: October 2006.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7975      (added 5/24/2006)
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