Also published on this date: Shelf Awareness for Monday, March 5, 2018

Monday, March 5, 2018: Dedicated Issue: Candlewick Relaunches Judy Moody

Candlewick Press: Judy Moody has a new look! Rare!

Editors' Note

Candlewick Press Relaunches Popular Judy Moody Series

Judy Moody, heroine of 13 books and counting, should be pleased. She's getting a makeover. The well-loved Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald is coming up on two decades in existence--to the tune of 22 million print copies in 17 languages and a feature-length movie. To celebrate and introduce the irrepressible third grader to a new crop of readers, Candlewick Press is relaunching the series with a bright look that will capture the hearts of readers used to quick-paced, rapidly changing entertainment. Look for Judy's familiar tiger stripes, now featured on every cover. In this issue, supported by the publisher, the stories and interviews are by Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor.

Candlewick Press: Download a brand-new Judy Moody Day activity kit!

Books & Authors

Megan McDonald Launches a New Era of Judy Moody--No Lie!

Megan McDonald--Judy Moody author extraordinaire--talks to Shelf Awareness about the relaunch of the 20-year-old series. Megan shares her original inspiration, gives some hints about Judy's future adventures and reveals the amazing things some of her readers have done after reading the series.

What do you think accounts for Judy's continuing popularity after almost two decades in print?

I think readers relate to Judy Moody because she seems real to them. They see themselves in her. Young readers often connect with the character because of her many moods--she's an everykid with a lot of ups and downs, flaws and triumphs and disappointments, just like real life. Only funnier.

What can readers expect from the new "season" of Judy?

A teaser, huh? Coming up next for Judy is a new adventure called Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party. In third grade, Judy is given an assignment to create a family tree. When she looks into Moody family history, she soon becomes convinced that she is related to a queen! No lie!

In future adventures, who knows? She may get a new best friend, or go up against a new rival, Mighty Fantaskey. You'll just have to wait and see.

Was there anyone who inspired the Judy character in the beginning?

Judy Moody is most likely an exaggerated version of myself, remembering back to third grade. We both have messy hair, love to collect stuff and our mood rings prove that we both have a wide range of moods--good and bad, happy and sad, joyful-on-top-of-the-world. Growing up with four older sisters also inspired many of the original Judy Moody stories.

Do you have any great stories about reader response to the books?

So many! Readers have read that a book, for me, often begins with an idea scribbled on a napkin. This has enthused many readers in classrooms and at home to scribble their own ideas on napkins, then write and illustrate their own stories. After reading Judy Moody, M.D., some readers were even inspired to become future doctors and start a club where they operate on a zucchini!

Best of all, I think, are the letters I get from readers who are moved to make a difference after reading Judy Moody Saves the World. Recently, a third-grader spearheaded a whole project to donate books to sick children in hospitals after reading Judy Moody Gets Famous.

What do you think the style of the illustrator, Peter H. Reynolds, adds to the series?

Going way back to the beginning, Peter created a funny, mischievous third-grade Judy Moody in her tiger-striped pajama pants with her "I ATE A SHARK" T-shirt that is now iconic. I'm forever grateful to Peter for his whimsical style that makes the characters of Judy and Stink and their world approachable and authentic to kids. With a simple tilt of the eyebrow or unruly curl of the hair, Peter adds so much humor and expression to the many moods of Judy Moody.

Have your readers changed over the years?

Originally, readers of Judy Moody were third- to fifth-graders. Now many kids are strong, independent readers earlier than before, so they're discovering Judy Moody and early chapter books at a younger age. Humor, I find, appeals to all ages. In fact, I now have college-age readers (and beyond!) who remember Judy Moody fondly from childhood.

Has Judy changed?

Still moody after all these years!

Seriously, though, I think Judy Moody has grown up a bit. She has discovered many more moods, and in Judy Moody, Moody Martian, we even see Judy attempt to stay in a GOOD mood for one whole entire week.

If you could imagine Judy Moody as a grownup, what do you think she'd be like?

I think she would be creative, curious, interesting, artsy-craftsy, fun to be with, someone who shares her love of reading with others, a traveler and a good friend.

Anything else you'd like to share with our readers?

Reading made me a writer. Read, read, read!

Candlewick Press: Judy Moody has a new look! Rare!

Judy Moody Editor Mary Lee Donovan LOLs

Shelf Awareness chats with Candlewick Press Editorial Director Mary Lee Donovan about being "100% kid."

The Judy Moody series is still tremendously popular, almost two decades after its (initial) launch. With 22 million Judy Moody series books in print around the world, available in 17 languages, what do you hope the relaunch will accomplish?

As you note, it's been 20 years now that the Judy Moody books have been putting readers in a joyful mood. But it's important to remember that the window for a particular kind and level of book is a relatively short one in the life of a child. The original readers of the first Judy Moody books have now been officially replaced by a new generation! Lots of young readers are aspirational (eager to get to the next "level" in their reading material), which means we are faced with the almost constant challenge of vying for the attention of a new batch of readers every two to three years. What we are hoping to do with a periodic relaunch and repackage is to make a splash and get noticed by the newly independent readers who have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Judy. We know that once readers are initiated into the relatable adventures of Judy Moody with a single title, they'll be back for more of those bright and appealing packages that promise humor and adventure, telling their friends about their "new" discovery and zooming through the entire series.

What kind of guidance did you give the designers for the new look of the series? What was your goal for the relaunch?

What guided all of us in making this business decision was an accumulation of wisdom from the author, the sales force, the customers, the evolving marketplace and the natural turnover of the young readership of the series. While we all have an incredible soft spot for the original brown-paper packaging and have endeavored to pay homage to it with our previous design refreshes, we knew it was time to make a pretty radical change.

Why do you think Judy Moody has had such sticking power over the past two decades? Although she's a perpetual third grader, has she grown at all with the times?

I think Judy Moody has sticking power because she is so very real and relatable. I wish I'd had a character like Judy to read about when I was growing up. I recognize her as the kid I was. She plays hard, she gets dirty and scuffed up, she has a conflicted relationship with her little brother, she has a messy room, she pursues what interests her, she has an active mind and imagination and she is constantly doing. She is enjoying what I think is an ideal childhood. It's liberating and thrilling to witness that, and I think she embodies what many of today's kids may be yearning for. In Judy Moody, her friends and her brother, Stink, readers have a model for how to be 100% kid.

Which is your favorite Judy Moody book, and why?

I think it has to be the second novel, Judy Moody Gets Famous! Megan wrangled the introductory novel out of an almost absurdly deep and brilliant well of ideas and anecdotes. When the first novel was done, the second one seemed to write itself. Of course, that may not be how it felt to Megan, but for me that manuscript was a clear sign that Megan had found her voice, that Judy was a fully-formed character and that there was no end to the number of adventures that Judy might have. And it was a manuscript that made me laugh out loud--A LOT! It was probably some of the most fun I've had as an editor.

What's your hope for a new generation of readers?

That they have the joy and delight of discovering Judy Moody, if they haven't heard of her before through older siblings--or even parents who grew up reading Judy! My hope for those readers is that, at least vicariously, they can see and feel what it's like to have the freedom to be a kid, to be real, to be themselves: moods, messy hair, muddy sneakers and all.

Anything else you'd like to share with our readers?

This may not matter as much to kids, but to the gatekeepers and to the publisher, it is an exquisite and RARE fact that Megan McDonald is still entirely and completely the writer of planet Judy Moody. While it may mean 14 Judy Moody books instead of 40 after 20 years, the slow build means that Judy Moody books are still as freshly observed, expertly comedic and smartly written as they were in April 2000.

Candlewick Press: Calling All Educators! Check Out Megan McDonald's Totally Rare Teachers' Club!

Judy Moody Book Designers on the 'Reinvention' of the Series Look

Executive Art Director Ann Stott and Assistant Art Director Heather McGee talk shop and tiger stripes.

Ann Stott

How did the two of you work together to come up with a new look? What was your goal?

Ann: We both have advertising backgrounds, so we worked together on a brief that established the design parameters and identified what elements should visually drive the new covers. We did this by surveying the sales and marketing team, as well as gathering information from the editor and the author. We looked at the competition and how these series were being positioned in the marketplace. From there we identified what we wanted to keep from the original design and what we wanted to change. Our main goal was to reinvent the playful spirit of the series and to capture Judy's spunk and determination through the use of more color and updated typography. We each worked up a number of different directions, and over several months of iterations we narrowed it down to our top two. Picking up the tiger-stripe pattern from Judy's leggings and incorporating it into the design was a breakthrough. We thought it made the perfect "Judy" statement and held the entire series together.

Heather: We brainstormed together a lot, looking at competitors' books as well as kid trends and what kids are wearing. Today's kids are very fashion-oriented, so we took another look at Judy's wardrobe to see if we could find some inspiration there. Her tiger-stripe pajama pants and "I ATE A SHARK" T-shirt from the first book are pretty unforgettable, so that sparked the idea of using the tiger print. We have slowly been introducing color to Judy, too, so it seemed a natural fit to utilize the tiger print in various Judy colors. Our goal was to have an eye-catching look that existing and new readers would want to grab to learn more about Judy.

Heather McGee

What are some changes we'll see in the new design of the series?

Ann: The color palette is much brighter, and we've replaced the brown kraft-paper background with a Judy Moody signature tiger-stripe pattern. Megan's name is featured prominently across the top, and we've included catchphrases to bring Judy's voice to each cover. The main art is much larger and features a more active image. The display type was updated with a modern, sans serif font, and we've added more color and design elements to the spines to help differentiate each title.

Heather: We were able to utilize a lot of the existing artwork with a few new pieces by Peter, but rather than focus on Judy's face, we brought forward the artwork that shows more movement. Our last refresh of Judy included only eight books--this one is 13 books with more on the way! Trying to make each book unique while staying within the overall look of Judy tested our design skills.
How has branding for kids' book series changed in the past 20 years?

Ann: Children have become much more visually sophisticated. When the first Judy Moody book came out, most illustrated fiction had the same look: full-color cover art and traditional type design. Back then we wanted the Judy Moody series to stand out from what was on the shelf. Twenty years later, young readers are even more aware of brands. They know what they like and what they don't. Nothing stays the same for long in their worlds. They are used to change, and we have to find ways to capture their attention.

Heather: Branding is much more competitive nowadays; there are so many choices for kids. It's imperative to have an eye-catching design that doesn't look too similar to all the other books that can carry across many covers. Because of this competitive nature, brand refreshes seem to occur much more frequently, and it's sometimes challenging for a designer to come up with a new look that is still true to the brand, yet remains unique.

Candlewick Press: Judy Moody has a new look! Rare!

Candlewick Press: Judy Moody and the Right Royal Tea Party by Megan McDonald

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