Beginning in spring 2014, Walker Books will group all its media-related and media-inspired publishing, including TV and film tie-in titles and celebrity publishing, under the new imprint Walker Entertainment.
The imprint will be known as Candlewick Entertainment in the U.S., with Australia carrying both lines.
The new imprint will report to Helen McAleer, head of the Walker Group’s new global rights and development division, which was established last year.
The group rights and development division already houses Walker Productions, founded by McAleer in 2007 to develop Walker and Candlewick-owned content for other media platforms. Walker Productions has since gone on to successfully develop and sell three TV series which are currently on the air in the U.K.: “Henry Hugglemonster,” “Tilly and Friends” and “Fleabag Monkeyface.” Walker Productions, Kindle Entertainment and DHX Media are also currently in production on “Hank Zipzer,” a live-action series that will air on CBBC next year. The group rights and development division is also home to the group’s licensing activity across major brands such as Guess How Much I Love You, Tilly and Friends and Maisy.
“We’re excited about launching the new imprint next year as a natural extension of our growing media rights development business,” says Karen Lotz, managing director, Walker Books Group, and president and publisher, Candlewick Press. “We see our opportunities for targeted tie-in and licensed publishing continuing to grow, and wanted to give this publishing a designated home under our group publishing umbrella. Our talented publishing team has already secured some exciting new projects, including Mossy Bottom Farm from Aardman Animations, which will join our own group content on the new list.”
Mossy Bottom Farm will be the first addition to the new imprint. Through an agreement between Aardman Animations and Walker Entertainment, the fiction titles will be based on the Aardman character Shaun the Sheep.
“We are delighted to be working with Walker Books at such an exciting time for them and for Shaun the Sheep,” says Rob Goodchild, head of licensing, Aardman Animations. “The Mossy Bottom Farm series will bring brand new stories and characters from Shaun’s world to a range of young fiction books. We know how much families enjoy watching the TV show and are sure they will take the same pleasure from reading these books together.”
Walker’s existing media-related brands such as Abney and Teal will also migrate to Walker Entertainment, and all Walker Productions projects will become part of the new imprint including the Tilly and Friends TV tie-in books. Walker Entertainment’s launch line up will include new titles from both of these brands, as well as four tie-in editions of the Hank Zipzer novels originally published by Walker Books, to coincide with the CBBC show.
Joan Powers, group editorial director, will have editorial responsibility for the list and will work closely with Kristen Nobles, group art director, reporting into Powers, and an in-house team of editors and designers based in the U.K. and the U.S. Powers will report directly to Helen McAleer, and will work with the publishing and commercial teams within the Walker Group on developing a global list and bringing Walker’s traditional publishing strengths into this new area of focus and expertise.
“Walker Entertainment and Candlewick Entertainment will open up new commercial channels for us and also strengthen our opportunities for brand management in-house,” says Helen McAleer, chief global development officer, Walker Books Group. “We look forward to shaping a list that embraces the heritage, quality and original publishing experience that Walker is renowned for, and combining it with passion, understanding and expertise in delivering into the mass market.”