Also published on this date: Shelf Awareness for Monday, May 8, 2017

Monday, May 8, 2017: Rodale Kids

Rodale Books: Meet Rodale Kids

Editors' Note

Introducing Rodale Kids

With the support of the publisher, Shelf Awareness celebrates the launch of Rodale Kids, a new children's imprint from Rodale Books.

Rodale Kids: I Am Kind / I Am Thankful (Positive Power Series) by Suzy Capozzi, illustrated by Eren Unten

Books & Authors

Rodale Kids: 'Bringing Health, Healing and Happiness' to Children, Too

Maria Rodale

Rodale Inc., the renowned health, happiness and wellness publisher for adults, is launching an imprint for children of all ages called Rodale Kids. As Rodale chairman, president and CEO Maria Rodale says, "It's long been a dream of mine to expand our award-winning and bestselling Rodale Books publishing program to kids, who are most open to learning new things. Our best-in-class books, magazines and products have transformed the well-being of millions of consumers, and we recognize that Rodale's commitment to shaping a brighter future really starts with our youngest generation. It's time to nurture our mission--to inspire health, healing and happiness in the world--among young readers and their families, where it all begins."

Rodale Kids' first list appears this fall and will consist of 10 titles (more on them below). The imprint plans to publish 30-45 titles a year, but may revise that in line with demand (it already has 50 titles slated for 2018). The books will be fiction and nonfiction for children from infants to teens. Rodale Books VP and publisher Gail Gonzales, who is heading Rodale Kids, says, "We're hopeful that reaching kids and teaching them healthy habits, positive thinking, mindfulness and more will improve their lives (and maybe their parents' lives) so that they don't have to learn these things later in life. Our mission of inspiring health, healing, happiness and love isn't just restricted to adults anymore."

In fact, in its name and in other ways, Rodale Kids makes references to its parent. The imprint's logo, for example, has a trefoil leaf with roots that go deep that is part of the traditional Rodale logo.

Gonzales says she has found this all deeply satisfying. "I love being able to put products out into the world that really help people and change their lives for the better," she explains. "I take it very seriously--I only want to be putting out books that have a good energy."

Rodale Kids is functioning much like a startup, Gonzales says, with many staffers working on both adult and kids titles. "We did have people who had previous kids experience so that definitely helps," she adds. "A great thing about Rodale is that when someone has a new creative idea, we try it. We are agile and nimble enough to start up business initiatives pretty quickly."

Gail Gonzales

The company wants Rodale Kids to stand out in the marketplace as "the go-to imprint for people when they're looking for a credible publisher in the health and wellness space," Gonzales continues. Both fiction and nonfiction should be known "as positive, uplifting, and able to teach ideas and concepts that go back to living a happy and healthy life on a happy, healthy planet." The titles will also aim for diversity in everything from illustration styles to the characters in the stories.

Rodale has increased its adult business in indie bookstores, improving its relationships and communications with booksellers, and will continue doing so this year. "We can always do better in this area," Gonzales says, "and the kids books will let us expand that relationship even further." She notes that Rodale Kids has "some fun things planned" around its taekwondo graphic novels for indies that include swag bags and interactive kits.

Rodale is also increasing its support of the library market. It exhibited at the ALA Midwinter conference for the first time, and has exciting plans for BookExpo and ALA in June. "The librarians are so welcoming and supportive," Gonzales says. "We want to be that right back to them."

Rodale Kids: Mrs. Peanuckle's Vegetable/Fruit Alphabet, illustrated by Jessie Ford

Rodale Kids' Creative Direction

Eric Wight

Creator of the Frankie Pickle series and the comic book adaptation of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, among many other works, Eric Wight is creative and editorial director of children's media at Rodale. Here the author, illustrator and animator discusses the creative direction of Rodale Kids.

Having grown up a few towns over from their offices in Emmaus, Pa., I'd known that Rodale was a pioneering health and wellness content company since I was a kid. My grandfather (who lived to 100!) read their books on nutrition from cover to cover, and always had copies of Prevention magazine on hand. Like they did for my grandfather, Rodale has improved the lives for millions of adults around the world. What always surprised me was that they didn't publish books for children. After all, the Rodale mission of health and happiness is exactly what I want for my kids.

As it turns out, publishing children's books was a lifelong dream of chairman and CEO Maria Rodale. It just hadn't happened yet, so I joined the Rodale team to help change that. With the same entrepreneurial spirit that has shaped the long history of the Rodale company, a handful of ideas and doodles has now become a fully functional children's imprint with more than 50 titles in the works.

Prior to coming to Rodale, I spent my days working from home in my pajamas writing and illustrating children's books, such as the Frankie Pickle series (S&S BFYR), the Magic Shop series (Feiwel & Friends), and Everyone Loves Bacon and its sequel, Everyone Loves Cupcake (FSG). One of my favorite parts about being an author is getting to meet your readers. While on book tours, I've visited hundreds of schools across the United States, from castle-sized private academies to Title I schools protected by metal detectors. What I discovered was that regardless of where kids lived, or what they had or didn't have, they all had three things in common:

  • Kids loved to laugh.
  • Kids loved to learn.
  • Kids loved to dream.

Whether it's fun food facts with Mrs. Peanuckle's Vegetable Alphabet, or exploring the digestive system with The Fantastic Body, we strive for our titles to connect with kids about topics that matter to them, and be filled with humor and encouragement to help them achieve their dreams.

Being a part of the author community has also connected me with some extraordinarily talented creators. One such person is Laurel Snyder, the author of The King of Too Many Things. Since the moment we met, we'd been plotting to make a book together. So when I started acquiring titles for Rodale Kids, she was the first person I reached out to. Inspired by her son's request for a book about dragons, robots, superheroes and kittens, Laurel delivered a clever story that balances big laughs with a great message about appreciation. Combined with Aurore Damant's hilarious illustrations, what you see on the page is a genuine reflection of the fun we all had making this book.

Throughout my career, I've also worked as a creative consultant for a diverse variety of clients, some of whom we're now partnering with to create books for Rodale Kids. That's how our graphic novel series Team Taekwondo came to be. ATA International (formerly the American Taekwondo Association) hired me a few years back to overhaul the branding of their preschool program, ATA Tigers, which teaches children important life skills such as confidence and determination. Our shared objective of motivating kids to make positive choices made for an ideal collaboration to create a series of action-packed graphic novels that also encouraged good behavior.

For every title we consider for Rodale Kids, we ask ourselves: How does this help a child? Being a mission-driven company, it's vital for our books to offer a clear benefit to our readers. Whether it's encouraging thoughtfulness with I Am Kind, inspiring young chefs with Taste Test Challenge or calming anxious minds with Breathe Like a Bear, our catalog is filled with laughter, learning and plenty of surprises that will help kids grow a bright future for themselves and the world around them.

Rodale Kids: Team Taekwondo #1: Ara's Rocky Road to White Belt by Master Taekwon Lee & Jeffrey Nodelman, illustrated by Ethen Beavers

Rodale Kids Brands: ATA, Story Pirates, Meddy Teddy, Bloomers

A significant part of Rodale Kids' publishing programs involves working with established brands that share Rodale's emphasis on health, healing and happiness. The four major partners are:

ATA International

ATA International (formerly known as the American Taekwondo Association) is the premier North American organization dedicated to the martial arts discipline of taekwondo and is the founding organization of other international affiliates, including the World Traditional Taekwondo Union and the Songahm Taekwondo Federation. In the United States and worldwide, the organizations have more than 1,500 independently owned and operated schools and clubs and more than a million students registered since ATA International's founding in 1969.

Rodale Kids and ATA International are launching the first book in the Team Taekwondo graphic novel series this fall, Ara's Rocky Road to White Belt (more on this title below), whose life skill lesson focuses on self-esteem. The second and third books in the series, which will appear in spring 2018 and fall 2018 will address respect and honesty, respectively.

Story Pirates

Story Pirates is a media and education organization founded in 2004 to celebrate the words, ideas and stories of young people. It has a popular podcast; had a show for five years called Story Pirates Radio on SiriusXM; performs in schools, festivals and performing arts centers; and has been featured and praised by a range of actors, comedians and personalities, including Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver and Conan O'Brien. A Story Pirates live show is an exciting combination of entertainment and education in which world-class comedians, actors and musicians take kids’ wildest ideas and bring them to life on stage.

The first Rodale Kids book done with the Story Pirates is Story Pirates Present: Stuck in the Stone Age by Geof Rodkey, which will appear in March 2018. Rodkey is the author of the bestselling The Tapper Twins Go to War and its sequels as well as the adventure-comedy trilogy The Chronicles of the Egg. He also is an Emmy Award-nominated screenwriter for movies--including Daddy Day Care, RV, The Shaggy Dog and Good Luck Charlie, It's Christmas--TV, video games and magazines.

The middle grade novel's premise is based on a Story Pirates contest winning entry from Tennessee sixth-grader Vince Boberski, who imagined some modern scientists being transported to prehistoric times where they'd have to use their wits to deal with cave men, saber-toothed tigers and other hazards of the era. The main two scientists at the center of Stuck in the Stone Age have problems: one isn't very good at science and the other isn't very good with people.

Meddy Teddy

Meddy Teddy is a yoga-practicing stuffed animal who was created by Thom Jordan while on a meditation retreat to help teach children (and adults) about meditation and mindfulness. Meddy Teddy can demonstrate yoga poses and is a role model and yoga buddy for children. Meddy Teddy is also a social media star, with almost 30,000 Instagram followers and comes wearing a pair of zen white yoga pants.

Rodale Kids will release two Meddy Teddy books early next year. Meddy Teddy by Apple Jordan (January 16, 2018) allows kids to experience Meddy Teddy in picture book form, following him and his forest friends as they use yoga in their everyday adventures. The Meddy Teddy board book appears in spring 2018.


Founded by Cynthia Wylie, Bloomers! aims to connect children with nature and promote healthy eating using a variety of approaches. Its Bloomers! Schoolyard is a gardening program and curriculum for schools with educator videos, schoolyard products and classroom resources. Bloomers! Backyard includes a homeschool curriculum, outdoor games and activities, a garden guidebook and instructions. Bloomers! Island is an educational online world with hands-on lessons that includes gardening applications and a community garden blog.

Rodale Kids will begin its publishing program with Bloomers! with Bloomers Island, a hardcover title that will appear in January 2018. Then the first two Bloomers! series trade paperback picture books will appear in April 2018. After that, two Bloomers! books will appear in spring and winter each year. The series will follow a featured character of Bloomers Island on a gardening adventure to instill habits of healthy eating in children--and inspire them to actually grow plants.

Rodale Kids: The Fall List

Mrs. Peanuckle's Vegetable Alphabet by Mrs. Peanuckle, illustrated by Jessie Ford ($7.99, 9781623368708, Sept. 19, 2017). This board book brings a whole garden of alphabetized vegetables to babies and toddlers. From asparagus to zucchini, each scrumptious picture is accompanied by easily digestible facts--like "A is for Asparagus, which grows straight up from the ground." Mrs. Peanuckle is a nature lover and grandmother. Jessie Ford is an English illustrator whose work has been commissioned by Volkswagen, Samsonite, Unilever and Westin Hotels & Resorts.

Mrs. Peanuckle's Fruit Alphabet by Mrs. Peanuckle, illustrated by Jessie Ford ($7.99, 9781623368722, Sept. 19, 2017). Mrs. Peanuckle grows a second entry in her ABC board book series with Fruit Alphabet. From the well-known banana to the little-known yumberry, Mrs. Peanuckle gives tasty facts about these sweet treats--such as "R is for Raspberries, which can be red, golden, purple or black, oh my!"--or that watermelon is technically a fruit and a vegetable.

The King of Too Many Things by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Aurore Damant ($17.99, 9781623368746, Sept. 5, 2017). King Jasper's court wizard can conjure anything the young monarch desires: dragons, superheroes, robots and even kittens with rainbow fur. But Jasper wishes for too many things, creating a mess that teaches young children why always wanting more stuff doesn't necessarily lead to more happiness. Laurel Snyder is the author of Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova and Penny Dreadful. Aurore Damant is a French artist who illustrated the Haunted Library series for Penguin Random House.

I Am Kind by Suzy Capozzi, illustrated by Eren Unten ($13.99, 9781623369217, Oct. 10, 2017). The Positive Power Series helps very young readers learn to read using stories with positive values. In this entry, a little girl finds examples of kindness all around her, like the mother who volunteers to help in the community or the neighbor who shares his homegrown strawberries, and learns that she too has the power to commit caring, helpful acts. Suzy Capozzi is a children's book editor and author who has worked for Random House's early reader program, among other projects. Eren Unten is a children's book illustrator who has worked on the Little Golden Books series for Nickelodeon Studios.

I Am Thankful by Suzy Capozzi, illustrated by Eren Unten ($13.99, 9781623369200 , Oct. 10, 2017). This second Positive Power book takes place on Thanksgiving Day, when a little boy learns about many things to be thankful for during his family's holiday activities. Even if the rain might ruin their annual football game, there is still plenty of cooking and playing to do.

Team Taekwondo #1: Ara's Rocky Road to White Belt by Master Taekwon Lee and Jeffrey Nodelman, illustrated by Ethen Beavers ($14.99, 9781623368821, Nov. 14, 2017). This first entry in a new graphic novel series introduces Ara, a timid turtle more interested in collecting rocks than going on adventures. When Ara meets Baeoh, a tiger martial artist, he wonders if he has what it takes to join his feline friend's taekwondo team. Team Taekwondo teaches the importance of coming out of one's shell and persisting through failure. Each book includes a free lesson at one of 1,200 ATA International-licensed martial arts schools across the United States. Master Taekwon Lee is a sixth degree black belt, master instructor and author of the children's book The Legend of Baeoh. Jeffrey Nodelman is a fourth degree black belt, artist and novelist who has worked for Disney, Warner Bros and Nickelodeon. Ethen Beavers is an illustrator whose work has appeared in DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics and IDW Publishing.

Breathe Like a Bear: 30 Mindful Moments for Kids to Feel Calm Anytime Anywhere by Kira Willey, illustrated by Anni Betts ($14.99, 9781623368838, Dec. 5, 2017). Now young readers can practice mindfulness with Breathe Like a Bear, a calming collection of 30 easy exercises. These breath and movement meditations can be performed anywhere, from riding in a car, doing homework and even sitting in school. Kira Willey is a songwriter and kids' yoga expert who was inspired to create Breathe Like a Bear after finishing her previous book, Mindful Moments for Kids. Anni Betts is an illustrator who draws for books, magazines, advertisements and greeting cards.

Chef Gino's Taste Test Challenge: 90 Winning Recipes That Any Kid Can Cook by Gino Campagna, illustrated by Mike Lowery ($18.99, 9781623368869, Oct. 24, 2017). Gino Campagna shows little chefs how to harness big flavors in Taste Test Challenge. These 90 simple recipes teach kid cooks of all skill levels everything from pasta dishes to tacos, pizza, eggs and more, all accompanied by fun facts and charming illustrations. Gino Campagna has been teaching children how to cook for 15 years through shows like Gino's Kitchen on the Disney Channel, Kitchen Kids on YouTube and cooking classes in Los Angeles and Italy. Mike Lowery is the author and illustrator of the Doodle Adventures series, which teaches kids how to draw.

The Fantastic Body: What Makes You Tick & How You Get Sick by Dr. Howard Bennett ($19.99, 9781623368890, Nov. 7, 2017). Practicing pediatrician Howard Bennett teaches kids about their own insides in The Fantastic Body, an illustrated, fact-filled exploration of what makes little hearts tick. Now sick days and doctor visits can be a bit less mysterious or scary with Dr. Bennett's educational and sometimes gross guide. Howard Bennet writes a kids' column for the Washington Post and has 30 years of pediatric experience.

Total Teen: Tracy Anderson's Guide to Health, Happiness, and Ruling Your World by Tracy Anderson ($19.99, 9781623369323, Dec. 26, 2017). Hollywood fitness guru Tracy Anderson combines 17 years of professional experience with her own personal journey into Total Teen, a positive health and fitness guide for teen girls. Anderson's cardio and strength-building workouts, combined with simple recipes, give young women the tools they need to become happy adults. Tracy Anderson is the creator of the Tracy Anderson Method, has five fitness studios, 170 DVDs and has sold more than 60,000 copies of her adult fitness title, Tracy Anderson's 30-Day Method.

Rodale Kids: Breathe Like a Bear: 30 Mindful Moments for Kids to Feel Calm and Focused Anytime, Anywhere by Kara Wiley, illustrated by Anni Betts

Rodale Kids: Chef Gino's Taste Test Challenge: 90 Winning Recipes That Any Kid Can Cook by Gino Campagna, illustrated by Mike Lowery

Rodale Kids: The Fantastic Body: What Makes You Tick & How You Get Sick by Howard Bennett

Rodale Kids: The King of Too Many Things by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Aurore Damant

Rodale Kids: Total Teen: Tracy Anderson's Guide to Health, Happiness, and Ruling Your World by Tracy Anderson

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