Also published on this date: Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Tuesday, July 7 Dedicated Issue: Magic Cat

Abrams Introduces: Magic Cat Publishing!

Editors' Note

Introducing Magic Cat

With the help of the publisher, Shelf Awareness celebrates Magic Cat, the new Abrams Children's Books imprint headed by Rachel Williams and Jenny Broom that publishes family-friendly nonfiction and gift books for readers of all ages.

Abrams Introduces: Magic Cat Publishing!

Books & Authors

Andrew Smith on Magic Cat

Andrew Smith
(photo: ©Ari Scott)

Andrew Smith is Senior Vice President and Publisher of Abrams Children's Books and Abrams ComicArts. Andrew oversees the list from acquisition through publication with the goal of making Abrams the destination for beautifully designed books for all ages and ground-breaking graphic novels on the ComicArts list--creating lists that are inclusive and support and celebrate the creative vision of its authors and illustrators. Andrew has spent his more-than-25-year career in the children's publishing industry and has had the privilege of working with some of the most beloved and bestselling creators and brands across all age groups. Before joining Abrams in 2016, Andrew was the SVP and Deputy Publisher at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and prior to that held positions as VP, Sales at Candlewick and VP, Marketing for Random House Children's Books.

Dear readers,

The team at Abrams Children's Books has long admired the work of Rachel Williams and Jenny Broom, the founders of our newest imprint, Magic Cat. We've had insightful conversations with them at book fairs and bought North American rights to a number of the books they published in the UK, and, as book lovers ourselves, we adore their beautiful backlist. We're thrilled to now be working with Rachel and Jenny directly. Their brilliant and innovative vision for Magic Cat is a perfect complement to our existing publishing program.

Magic Cat publishes family-friendly nonfiction and gift books for readers of all ages, with the belief that the stories you are told in childhood shape the person you grow up to be. Rachel and Jenny are both great businesswomen, but they're also incredible editors and authors in their own right and they understand the magic that can happen when a creative team is empowered to pursue the ideas they're most passionate about. At its heart, this imprint is about cultivating and encouraging a childlike wonder of books and a belief that stories can make a change--both in children's lives and in the world around us.

We think the launch list embodies this mission perfectly, and we're so proud of the work this diverse group of talented creators has achieved. Slow Down: 50 Mindful Moments in Nature feels especially relevant, as we've all been forced to slow down and cherish quieter moments amidst everything that's going on around us. Old Enough to Save the Planet shows us that even the smallest voices can make a change and invites kids to stand up for what's right, like the 12 young climate activists profiled. In a more fantastical vein, The Dragon Ark is an oversized book that readers of all ages can pore over for hours looking at the stunning illustrations of all sorts of dragons, and Magical Creatures and Mythical Beasts is a unique book that uses a UV flashlight to reveal hidden creatures in historical landmarks around the world. And finally, Goodnight, Little Bunny and Goodnight, Little Llama are beautiful bedtime stories, perfect for gift giving, that provide uplifting messages--like believing in yourself and accepting differences--to the youngest readers.

We hope you and your little ones are inspired by the magic in these books, and we can't wait to see how stories like these shape the next generation of readers and leaders.

All the best,

Andrew Smith

Abrams Introduces: Magic Cat Publishing!

Rachel Williams and Jenny Broom's Magic Cat: Timely, Child-Friendly and Visually Compelling

Rachel Williams and Jenny Broom
(photo: ©Erik Niemi)

Rachel Williams grew up in Melbourne, Australia, studied literature at university and received a Masters in Business and Publishing at RMIT University. She began her book-making career at Lonely Planet. Emigrating to the UK in her mid-20s, she fell in love with children's books at Templar Publishing, where she met her business partner, Jenny Broom, and Magic Cat's chairwoman, Amanda Wood. At Templar, she and Broom launched the Big Picture Press imprint. In 2014 she and Broom moved to The Quarto Group to start Wide Eyed Editions and Williams subsequently also became Publisher of Frances Lincoln Children's Books. She also writes, authoring titles like Atlas of Adventures, Illuminature and more recently, Slow Down.

Jenny Broom studied at the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art at University College London before taking up a career in children's publishing. She cut her teeth at packaging company Brown Wells and Jacobs before moving to Bonnier-owned Templar Publishing, where she met Williams and helped found the imprint Big Picture Press.

In 2019, Broom and Williams together embarked on their third and most exciting venture, founding an all-female-led independent publishing house, Magic Cat Publishing, featuring nonfiction and gift books for children.

Rachel Williams: How would you sum up our launch list for Magic Cat?

Jenny Broom: For me, the list is built on three pillars: each book is timely, child-friendly and visually compelling. I feel our launch list stakes out the parameters of where we hope to take Magic Cat. We cater to preschool through middle grade, with a list of illustrated non-fiction and gift books that includes one stand-out innovative novelty title, Magical Creatures and Mythical Beasts. The advances have just come in on that.... It's pretty spectacular to have these imaginary beasts appear from nowhere under the UV flashlight!

Williams: Do you think that Magic Cat feels different to what we have done before?

Broom: Magic Cat feels like an evolution to me built on our 10 years of making illustrated children's books together. Part of the difference, I think, is how we've commissioned the list with more of an awareness of important issues, focusing on how to make books for children growing up now, trying to make sense of a complicated world. Our industry as a whole is having really big conversations around diversity and the human impact on the planet. We've talked about how we're keen not to shield young readers from these issues but instead find ways to open them up in an accessible and responsible manner. 

Williams: Yes, Old Enough to Save the Planet is a good example of how we address a big issue like climate change from a child's perspective, showing how even the smallest of us can make a big difference. And now, of course, we are commissioning as parents, too, making it our mission to find ways for families to connect both head and heart around a non-fiction or story book.

Broom: Starting up two new imprints with you for Bonnier and Quarto over the last decade has helped me understand how important it is to pour your heart and soul into a list.

Williams: And commissioning a series like Little People Big Dreams helped me see the value in giving an imprint a really distinct brand ethos that readers can relate to and remember. Our mission statement at Magic Cat--to make books with the belief that the stories you are told in childhood shape the person you grow up to be--feels like an extension of that; recognizing that behind each book there has to be a consciousness about each one's reason for existing, and that each individual title contributes to the list's credibility as a whole. 

Broom: The Magic Cat dream was born out of a series of conversations reflecting on past successes and failures, and thinking about how we might reimagine our working practice through setting up an independent publishing house--as women, and as mothers--to better reflect the world we live in. Although our London-based team is small, we have a broad perspective with more than half of us originally hailing from overseas, and all of us bringing our own varied personal experiences.

Williams: A huge part of achieving that has been establishing who we could work with overseas to ensure we retain the integrity and agility of an indie whilst amplifying our reach.

Broom: The collaboration with ABRAMS has felt like a real meeting of minds, hasn't it?

Williams: Yes, for so long I have admired the ABRAMS list and their approach to making and selling great books, but also to building brands with longevity and purpose. Their commitment to innovative formats and design makes them second to none, when it comes to the art of the book.

Broom: Production quality and design have always been really important to us, but this time around I feel so much more child-focused. ABRAMS really understands that perspective: they have a sense of responsibility to their young readers.

Williams: And with both of us having kids under the age of 5, we are so focused on the power of storytelling, which I think shows up in all titles on the launch list--whether it's mindful non-fiction, like Slow Down, which was inspired by my daughter who asked me to stop and watch a bee pollinate a flower one day, or a more narrative approach like the Baby Animal Tales, which came about through watching your little boy latch onto photography. 

Broom: Being able to work on a curated list of just six launch titles after overseeing close to 100 new titles a year in past roles has been such a joy, hasn't it? It has allowed us to pay a really high level of attention to each title. I've loved it! 

Coming Spring 2021

Williams: I'm looking forward to fleshing out the list a bit next spring, branching out into new areas including poetry, with If You Go Down to the Woods Today, a search-and-find anthology set in a magical woodland forest, and 365 Words for Clever Kids, a preschool anthology of smart words to dip into every day of the year. There's no doubt though that launching a list in the midst of a global pandemic has had its challenges!

Broom: While the recent events have been difficult to deal with in lots of ways, they have made me grateful for the agility we've gained through being independent and therefore being nimble enough to respond quickly to what we think our readers need and want. Being able to communicate with our audience directly through social media and sharing learning activities and creative projects has been so rewarding. I've loved watching our relationship grow over the last few weeks.

Coming Spring 2021

Williams: Old Enough to Save the Planet has really tapped into an amazing community, hasn't it? I have to say, that is probably my favorite title--the kids in the book inspire me to get off my butt and do something for others and the world around us! Have you got a favorite on the list?

Broom: Mine is probably The Dragon Ark. On the one hand, it's fantasy escapism at its grandest, drawing on folklore and mythology from centuries back; and on the other, it's an up-to-the minute analogy for the world we find ourselves living in today. Plus, the chance of working with a talent like Tomislav Tomić is something I've waited basically my whole career for!

Williams: Working with passionate contributors on books that help us to reflect on the world we live in.... I guess that is what we set out to do with Magic Cat in a nutshell, isn't it?

Broom: That's it!

Magic Cat Publishing: Enter to Win the Complete List!

A Sneak Peek at Magic Cat's Launch List

Goodnight, Little Bunny by Amanda Wood, illust. by Vikki Chu, photographs by Bec Winnel (Magic Cat, $12.99, hardcover, 24p., ages 2-5, 9781419748400, February 9, 2021)

Goodnight, Little Llama by Amanda Wood, illus. by Vikki Chu, photographs by Bec Winnel (Magic Cat, $12.99, hardcover, 24p., ages 2-5, 9781419748417. January 5, 2021)

Perfect for bedtime or naptime, Baby Animal Tales are sure to soothe your little one to sleep.

In Goodnight, Little Bunny you'll meet Little Bunny on the day that she ventures out of the burrow for the first time and learns she has everything she needs to be the perfect bunny. In Goodnight, Little Llama, you'll meet Little Llama, who is about to make a very special friend: a lively chinchilla. A blend of photos and illustrations, Baby Animal Tales are perfect for bedtime or nap time, with simple stories sure to give little ones sweet dreams.

Slow Down: 50 Mindful Moments in Nature by Rachel Williams, illus. by Freya Hartas (Magic Cat, $24.99, hardcover, 128p., ages 8-12, 9781419748387, September 1)

Slow down to watch 50 nature stories that command calm and foster mindfulness. In this beautiful illustrated collection, 50 moments in nature are paused for you to watch them in detail. Then you should go outside, and explore, and see what you find when you take the time to slow down. Gorgeously illustrated, this charming collection celebrates the small wonders happening all around us every day.

Old Enough to Save the Planet by Professor Mortimer, illus. by Victo Ngai (Magic Cat, $16.99, hardcover, 32p., ages 8-12, 9781419749148, February 9, 2021)

An inspiring look at young climate change activists who are changing the world. Meet 12 young activists from around the world who are speaking out and taking action against climate change. Learn about the work they do, the challenges they face and discover how the future of our planet starts with each and every one of us.

Magical Creatures and Mythical Beasts by Professor Mortimer, illus. by Victo Ngai (Magic Cat, $29,99, hardcover, 48p., ages 8-12, 9781419748394, November 10)

Use your magic flashlight to reveal magical creatures and immerse yourself in a world of mythology. Discover the fantastical creatures that inhabit real, famous historical landmarks around the world using the UV flashlight included with the book. With more than 50 mythical beasts from around the world, this collection is perfect for any fantasy fan or history lover!

The Dragon Ark: Join the Quest to Save the Rarest Dragon on Earth by Curatoria Draconis, illus. by Tomislav Tomić (Magic Cat, $29.99, hardcover, 80p., ages 8-12, 9781419748370, October 20)

Curatoria Draconis, also known as the Dragon Protector, is on a mission to find the rarest dragon on Earth: the Chinese Celestial Dragon. Aboard the Dragon Ark, you'll travel all over the globe to see some of the most incredible dragons and protect them in their natural habitat.

Magic Cat: Slow Down: 50 Mindful Moments in Nature by Rachel Williams, illustrated by Freya Hartas

Archaia: Slaughterhouse-Five by Ryan North and Kurt Vonnegut, illustrated by Albert Monteys

Magic Cat: Old Enough to Save the Planet by Loll Kirby, illustrated by Adelina Lirius

Magic Cat: Baby Animal Tales, Perfect for Bedtime!

Magic Cat: Magical Creatures and Mythical Beasts by Victo Ngai and Professor Mortimer

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