Publisher Profile: Child’s Play
The CBC asks Tracy Grondin, Accounting and Collections Manager, and Amy Griffiths, Education Liaison and Marketing Coordinator, questions about the publisher.
CBC: How did your publishing house start out?
Amy: Michael Twinn founded Child’s Play in the UK in 1972. A year later, Child’s Play Inc. opened its doors in America. One of the first titles we published was There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly’, by Pam Adams, which is still a bestseller today!
What is your publishing house most known for?
Amy: We’ve earned a reputation for creating diverse and inclusive, child-focused books. We were publishing diverse and inclusive books before they became mainstream. Our books aim to reflect our diverse society, not just in terms of ethnicity but also in terms of class, gender, disability, and family. We’re constantly searching for ways to represent experiences that are often overlooked in children’s literature, as everyone deserves to see themselves in the books that they read.
CBC: Where in the country is your house based? What do you love about being based there?
Tracy: Our US division is based in Auburn, Maine. We love experiencing the four seasons here (we can relate to our Seasons series!) and of course, the easy access to lobster!
CBC: How many full-time employees does your house have?
Tracy: In the US division, we have eight full-time employees. Our Maine location has 6, plus we have one in New York and one in Texas.
CBC: How many books does your house aim to publish per season/year?
Tracy: We publish around 40 titles per season/year.
CBC: Which genres does your house prefer to publish?
Amy: We share stories from a wide range of genres, but our favorites are the ones with plots that involve the protagonist’s local community. Errol’s Garden, Big Dance, and Choices are good examples of books where the people around the main character are intrinsic to the story. Later this year, we’ll be publishing The Welcome Blanket, which is about neighbors creating a patchwork blanket for a family that has just moved to the area. They decorate it using techniques from a variety of cultures. We’re excited to share it with everyone.
CBC: Which formats do your house prefer to publish?
Tracy: We publish in a variety of formats, and we don’t really have an internal preference. We publish our picture books in hardcover and softcover and have recently included a downsized edition of our softcover books that have become very popular. Our board books have always been a large part of our range, and we do have a soft spot for our interactive activity books. Our new Tummy Time series, Look Touch Learn, is my newest interactive favorite!
What are some of your house’s publishing priorities over the next few years?
Diversity in children’s literature is improving, but there are still gaps in representation in terms of intersectionality. It’s rare for a real person to only have a single identity, and we’d like our books to reflect that, so we’ll continue including Black characters who use wheelchairs and Deaf characters from Traveler communities in our stories. We are also expanding our bilingual and language program as well. – Amy
CBC: Which upcoming titles is your house buzzing about?
Amy: We’re excited about Life of the River Thames – a cross-curricular journey along a well-known English river. On each page, you’ll find gorgeous watercolor illustrations of wildlife and information on how aspects of the river relate to history, geography, conservation, nature, or other STEM subjects.
We’re also looking forward to releasing Tree Whispers, a poetry collection all about the trees that sustain us, which features scenes from a range of countries.
We’re re-releasing four of our bestselling Flip-Up Fairy Tales with new artwork this year – children love lifting the flaps to move the action forward.
CBC: Which of your frontlist titles would be great for a school or public library?
Amy: For the Love of Lettuce can be used to introduce a topic on the lifecycle of a butterfly in an engaging way. Courtney Dicmas is popular for her charming characters and great sense of humor, both of which shine through in this adventure about caterpillars with clashing personalities!
CBC: What else would you like to tell us about your house and the amazing work you all do?
Tracy and Amy: We love not only the publishing work that we do but also giving back to the community and supporting organizations that support children. Every year we send corporate holiday ecards to help the environment, and then we make a donation to a charity with the money we would have spent. This year, we donated to Project Gambia. We are also active in several community organizations, such as the Dempsey Center for Cancer Care and Support, where we have sponsored and run a “KidZone” activity center with story times during their annual fundraiser, and they also utilize several of our books in their Healing Tree program.
We’re also still celebrating our 50th anniversary; we hope you’ll join our celebrations on social media! – Tracy and Amy
Thank you, Child’s Play!