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Friday, January 31, 2014

Henson Launches New Publishing Division

The Jim Henson Company is launching a new publishing division this fall, leading with a series of seasonally oriented adventure books aimed at a core girls demo. In partnership with publisher Bloomsbury Children’s Books, Jim Henson Publishing will launch the Enchanted Sisters series this August with Autumn’s Secret Gift, the first of four books that will each be released at the start of a new season.

“We have a rich history of creating deep fantasy worlds,” says Halle Stanford, EVP of children’s entertainment at Henson. “Literature and books are great forums to tell longer adventure-quest stories with authenticity.”

The series tells the story of four Sparkles (Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer) who, along with Mother Nature, are responsible for turning the seasons and keeping nature in perfect balance. Adventure, friendship and wonder will all be mined for maximum effect throughout the series, according to Stanford.
The first book tells the story of a gift that Autumn receives from Mother Nature, which she proceeds to lose. She then enlists her siblings to help find it again.

The initial title was written by New York Times bestselling author Elise Allen, with character design by Paige Pooler, known for her work for Disney, Nickelodeon and Scholastic.

Stanford says the illustrations and the story will set the series apart from other girl-oriented fantasy products on the market. “It’s 2D and traditional illustrations, but with very colorful and adorable details,” she says. “The details of the world are as if a nine-year-old girl imagined Tolkien’s Middle Earth.”

While the books are being prepared for publication, Henson is already looking to take its new IP into the TV realm and eventually to a fully realized licensing and merchandising program. “You can imagine the TV series,” says Stanford. “It would be a female-led adventure. We can see how popular something like Hunger Games or Frozen is—the adventure aspect of it would lend itself well to TV.”

Appropriately, the entire creative team behind the new series is comprised of women. “We are all actually the enchanted sisters,” laughs Stanford. “Girl power isn’t something new for us — it’s something Henson has been doing for years.”

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