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Publisher Profile: Web of Life Books

The CBC asks Madeleine Dunphy, Publisher of Web of Life Children’s Books, questions about the publisher.

How did your publishing house start out?

Before founding Web of Life, I wrote picture books for Hyperion Books for Children and Millbrook Press. When my books went out of print, I decided to form my own publishing company to republish them. Since then, Web of Life has expanded to publish new books created by many talented authors, illustrators, and photographers.

What is your publishing house most known for?

We are best known for publishing high-quality, timeless picture books about the wonders of nature.

Where in the country is your house based? What do you love about being based there?

Our office is located in Oakland, CA. There are three independent bookstores within walking distance from our office. What’s not to love?! Three cheers for Mrs. Dalloway’s, Pegasus Books, and East Bay Booksellers!

What conventions and conferences does your publishing house usually attend?

We often attend the National Science Teacher’s Association’s annual convention. We sometimes have a booth at other conferences with our distributor Publishers Group West/An Ingram Brand.

How many employees does your house have? 

One full-time person (me) and several part-time people who help with anything and everything to do with publishing.

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

We aim to publish two books a year. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is a pretty rigorous endeavor for a tiny publishing company.

Which genres does your house prefer to publish?

We publish non-fiction, creative nonfiction, and realistic fiction picture books about nature.

Which formats does your house prefer to publish?

Books are released in hardcover, and then, if possible, in paperback. We tend to veer away from ebooks.

What are some of your house’s publishing priorities over the next few years?

To continue to publish beautiful, timeless, inspiring, and factually correct picture books about nature.

Which title has your house recently rallied behind? 

We rally behind all of our titles. That’s the beauty of a tiny publishing company. We rally behind books yet to be published, and those which have been published long ago. Our backlist helps our front list stay alive.

Which title does your house feel deserved more love than it got?

We expected/hoped that Bristlecone: The Secret Life of the World’s Oldest Tree, written by Alexandra Siy and illustrated by Marlo Garnsworthy, would get more attention than it received. I am super proud of publishing this book; it tells a story of evolution, resilience, and climate change, all written in the rings of these ancient trees. I am happy it was picked up by the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association and named a 2023 Children’s Book Council Librarian’s and Children’s Favorites Award Winner, but I still don’t understand why a book of this merit did not garner more attention. 

Which upcoming titles is your house buzzing about? 

The sequel to Hawk Mother: The Story of a Red-tailed Hawk Who Hatched Chickens is coming out in May, 2024. The title is Hawk Mother Returns: A Story of Interspecies Adoption. This is a story about an injured red-tailed hawk and her zoologist friend who adopt and raise two abandoned red-shouldered hawk chicks, then return them to the wild. It is a beautiful, true, heart-warming story that will be released just in time for Mother’s Day!

We will also be publishing books by two debut authors in 2025!

Which of your frontlist titles would be great for a school or public library?

Every title we publish would be great for a school or library. One of the terrific things about our publishing company is that we provide free, downloadable lesson plans for each of our books, along with information about which Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards, ELA/Literacy Educational Standards are addressed. This, in addition to providing leveling information for each of our books, helps teachers seamlessly incorporate our books into their curriculum.

Which of your frontlist titles would be great for a classroom? Which grade?

The age levels for our books range from 3-8, 5-9, and 7-12. Hawk Mother Returns: A Story of Interspecies Adoption (to be published in May 2024) was written for 5-9-year-old kids.

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

We would love it if people would check out the books we published during the pandemic. These books didn’t get as wide an audience as we had hoped due to world events. They are The Turtle Dove’s Journey: A Story of Migration by me (Madeleine Dunphy) and Pika Country: Climate Change at the Top of the World by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent and Marlo Garnsworthy.

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

Our hope is that through our books, children will discover that all things are interconnected—and that they, too, are a part of the intricate and complex web of life. Through this discovery, we hope children will then love and protect the Earth with all their hearts.

Thank you, Web of Life Children’s Books!

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