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Publisher Profile: Sleeping Bear Press

The CBC asks Julia Hlavac, Marketing Director, questions about the publisher.

How did your publishing house start out?

It all began in 1998 with the release of our inaugural picture book, The Legend of Sleeping Bear by Kathy-jo Wargin and illustrated by Gjisbert van Frankenhuyzen. We soon established ourselves as a well-respected regional press. With the success of our Discover America State-by-State series, which subsequently grew into our unique Alphabet Book series that encompasses an array of themes, Sleeping Bear Press gained a national presence in the children’s marketplace. Over the years, our offerings have grown to include board books, beginning readers, middle-grade fiction, and e-books, but we remain true to our mission of providing books that engage, entertain, educate, and provide opportunities for students and children to explore the world in educational, library, and home settings.

Has your house ever gone through a merger? If so, with whom and when?

In 2012, Cherry Lake Publishing Group (CLPG), an educational publisher that originated in Mankato, Minnesota, acquired Sleeping Bear Press. In May of 2022, CLPG acquired Maine-based Tilbury House Publishers. Our CEO, Ben Mondloch, continues to develop our company into a well-rounded and respected publisher across school, library, trade, and gift markets. We are thrilled to continue to grow and produce titles for children of all ages. All our imprints are now under one roof, headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

How many books does your house aim to publish per season/year?

Sleeping Bear Press publishes roughly 30-35 titles per year. 

Which upcoming titles is your house buzzing about?

We have several titles in our fall season, which we are excited to share. To start with, our Own Voices, Own Stories Award Grand Prize Winner Who Am I?. Written from an Indigenous perspective, Who Am I? tells the story of how we are all connected to our ancestors, our past and future, and the Earth—and how it is everyone’s duty to fend off darkness, connect to the past, offer safety and shelter, and color the world with beauty. 

A great new STEM addition, If the Rivers Run Free, uses rhyming text to showcase the fascinating story of “daylighting,” unearthing and restoring buried rivers to their rightful places.

If you’re a fan of outer space, you’ll love the newest title from retired astronaut Clayton Anderson, So You Want to Be an Astronaut. In this title, wannabe astronauts will learn that many of the skills needed to be a space explorer will help in all walks of life, both on Earth and in space. 

We’re also excited to share that we will be publishing New York Times-bestselling author Kim Michele Richardson’s first children’s book in the spring of 2024. The book titled Junia: The Book Mule of Troublesome Creek highlights the much-beloved book mule from the bestselling The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek series.

Name a few of your favorite backlist titles that people should check out.

From our recent backlist, I would suggest our 2022-2023 Bluebonnet Award Winning title, Memoirs of a Tortoise by Devin Scillian and Tim Bowers. If you need a good laugh, Toby Tootles will do the trick. If you’re looking for books that spark joy, A-Train Allen and City Beet are just the ticket! And for the history buffs, I’d recommend The Peach Pit Parade: A WWI Story or So Much More to Helen: The Passions and Pursuits of Helen Keller. 

What else would you like to tell us about your house and the amazing work you all do?

We have always strived to ensure that all readers can see themselves in the pages of our books, and in recent years we have expanded on those efforts publishing an even more diverse selection of stories and partnering with organizations like Bernie’s Book Bank and Easterseals to ensure inclusivity within our titles and access to those titles. In addition to our robust publishing program, we’re also in the fourth year of our Own Voices, Own Stories Award which is open to new authors from historically marginalized groups with the intention of recognizing and amplifying new and diverse voices with underrepresented perspectives. We might be a small, independent publisher but we continue to set big goals for our growth!

I would recommend that aspiring authors check out our submission guidelines as well as our Own Voices, Own Stories Award criteria. Be sure to follow us on social media (@SleepingBearPress on Instagram, Threads, Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube, TikTok—we’re everywhere, and we’re pretty fun!) for company BTS, new releases, and a peek into our day-to-day.

Thank you, Sleeping Bear Press!

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