Also published on this date: Shelf Awareness for Monday, February 1, 2021

Monday, February 1 Dedicated Issue: Running Press Kids

Running Press Kids: Self-care for kids with a playful point of view

Editors' Note

Running Press Kids

With the support of the publisher, Shelf Awareness celebrates Running Press's children's imprint and its works designed to encourage self-care for kids.

Running Press Kids: A Small Kindness by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Wendy Leach

Books & Authors

An Introduction to Running Press Kids from Publisher Kristin Kiser

Kristin Kiser

I am proud and excited to share how Running Press Kids is building a publishing program dedicated to children's wellness and self-care, a growing area of need for children, educators and parents during these turbulent times. Guided by the vision of our Editorial Director, Julie Matysik, and Creative Director, Frances Soo Ping Chow, our titles tackle issues such as mindfulness, meditation, inclusion, identity and self-love. All our books incorporate a sense of play driven by carefully crafted art and meticulously edited text.

Some of our ideas are born in-house or come to us via authors like mindfulness leader Mallika Chopra, who is publishing her third "Just Be" book for middle-grade readers with us this year. We also work collaboratively with many licensing partners such as Bob Ross, Sesame Street and Crayola, which allows us to bring our distinctive perspective to renowned brands. Running Press Kids is dedicated to helping children become the best version of themselves, and I believe you will see that reflected in all that we do. Thank you so much for spending time with us today and learning more about our publishing program. We hope you come away inspired, rejuvenated and with a sudden urge to go outside and play! --Kristin Kiser

Before joining Running Press, Kristin Kiser was Deputy Publisher at Rodale, Associate Publisher at Hyperion/ABC-Disney and Editorial Director of Crown Publishers. Kiser is now Vice President and Publisher of Running Press and Black Dog & Leventhal. Running Press, which is headquartered in Philadelphia and has four imprints--RP Adult, RP Kids, RP Minis and RP Studio--publishes books and book products that amaze, delight, inspire and entertain readers with beautifully designed and creatively packaged formats. New York publisher Black Dog & Leventhal specializes in thoughtfully designed, immersive illustrated nonfiction for adults and children.

Running Press Kids: The Junior Astrologer's Handbook: A Kid's Guide to Astrological Signs, the Zodiac, and More by Nikki Van De Car, illustrated by Uta Krogmann

Mallika Chopra: A Messy, Meditative Journey

Mallika Chopra

Mallika Chopra is a mom, media entrepreneur, public speaker and published author. She is the author of children's books Just Breathe: Meditation, Mindfulness, Movement, and More, Just Feel: How to Be Stronger, Healthier, Happier and More, and the upcoming Just Be You and My Body Is a Rainbow. Chopra has taught meditation to thousands of people and enjoys speaking to audiences around the world about intention, balance and living a life of purpose.

Would you please tell readers a little bit about your journey?

I am a natural entrepreneur so have had many, many projects--I refer to my work, like my personal life, as a messy journey!

In my book for adults, Living with Intent, I share insights I learned while seeking meaning and balance as a mom and entrepreneur--overwhelmed often by work, family and too many responsibilities! As I began to speak to audiences around the world, the most common question I received was, "How do we teach meditation and mindfulness to children?" I learned how to meditate when I was nine years old from my father, Deepak Chopra, so I feel privileged to be able to share my own experiences with others. The Just Be Series--which includes Just Breathe, Just Feel and Just Be You (coming out in March)--share many of the tools, lessons and insights that I learned as a child, and have had the opportunity to teach throughout my life.

Just Breathe and Just Feel were directed at the 8-12, middle-grade audience. Why did you choose that age range?

I love writing for middle graders because this is an age when kids are curious, aware, ask tons of questions, love to be silly, are open about how their bodies react to situations and express feelings innocently. My books are written to guide an experience: when children breathe deeply, name feelings, explore their likes and dislikes or feel connected to nature, the experience belongs to them. It is not intellectual, but rather about their individual insights and knowingness.

Just Be You is also for the middle-grade audience. It is dedicated "to you, the reader. You are the inspiration, the hope, and the light of the future." How do you think children approach a book like this?

Just Be You is about asking questions, setting intentions and celebrating your special self. My intent with this book is to honor children's natural inclination to explore, dream, wonder, imagine and think about the values they want to live by. Children are living in a hyper-stimulated world where we often put too much pressure on them to achieve goals or define (often by adults) who they are early on. Hopefully this book gives children (and the adults in their lives) space to embrace uncertainty, possibilities, belonging and the lifelong journey of self-discovery. In my personal experience, when you know yourself beyond the labels, then you feel more secure, belonging, and confidence.

Your other upcoming title with Running Press Kids, My Body Is a Rainbow, is a picture book about feelings for ages 4-8. Why a picture book?

I often speak at schools. The Just Be Series has been a great curriculum of sorts to use in middle schools because I can engage with kids who love sharing how their body feels, how their mind races and how they can calm down with a tree pose or silent meditation. (Middle school kids love to demonstrate!)

With the younger children, I have found that colors, movement and imagination get them really engaged in the experience. My Body Is a Rainbow helps guide kids into using color, breath and attention in the body to become familiar with feelings, control overwhelming emotions and dream infinite possibilities.

What are you up to next? Is there anything else you'd like to tell Shelf readers?

I am so excited to be a "mindfulness consultant" on Stilllwater, a new, animated children's series on Apple TV+. The show, based on Zen Stories by Jon Muth, aims to teach subtle life lessons through a wise panda (Stillwater) who develops a special friendship with three siblings who live next door. This series is so well done--it's joyful, beautiful, insightful! I feel lucky to be linked to it, as it's another offering to teach kids how meditation, mindfulness, self-reflection and service can help them be resilient, purposeful and happier.

Running Press Kids: Creativity and comfort with Bob Ross!

Julie Matysik: Cultivating a Sense of Play

Julie Matysik

Julie Matysik is the Editorial Director of Running Press Kids. Prior to working at Running Press, Matysik was the Editorial Director of Sky Pony Press, which she helped found in 2011. She has worked with a number of bestselling and award-winning authors and illustrators, including Mallika Chopra, Beth Vrabel, Stacy McAnulty, Robb Pearlman, Thrity Umrigar, Charles Santore, Elly MacKay and Iza Trapani.

Would you tell us a little bit about what the job of Editorial Director entails?

Of course! Like many jobs in publishing, I do feel that my role as Editorial Director is constantly evolving and changing. My main focus, however, is to ensure the quality and consistency of our list while encouraging our small-but-mighty kids' team.

In an average week, I'm likely working on reading and/or acquiring new projects from agents, licensors and ideas generated in house by our team. I am usually editing a manuscript (or two) or even writing some of our early concept board books. I'm reviewing various illustration sketches or final art with our Creative Director, Frances Soo Ping Chow, and authors, making sure our books maintain an element of play in both the text and the illustrations. I'm also often in the midst of preparing copy or presentation materials for various sales meetings. One day never quite looks like the other. But that's the best part of working in publishing, at least for me. I like turning on my computer each morning and discovering challenges to solve and amazing projects that I cannot wait to see in print.

When you moved to Running Press Kids, did you have in mind a specific kind of program you wanted to develop or expand?

In my move from Sky Pony, I wanted to help make the Running Press Kids list more cohesive in its publishing program. My goal was to work with Frances to bring the kids list more in line with its parent imprint, Running Press's, dedication to publishing books that "amaze, delight, inspire, and entertain"--and to try to achieve this across all age groups we publish for (toddler through young adult). I've also always been a strong advocate for books--especially picture books--that encourage kids to engage with the world. Running Press Kids already had some beautiful books with this focus, so together with the creative team, we were able to grow the list in that direction.

The picture book program is one of your particular focuses. This includes upcoming titles like I Affirm Me: The ABCs of Inspiration for Black Kids and Dolls and Trucks are for Everyone. Would you please tell our readers a little bit about these books?

Absolutely! Nyasha Williams's I Affirm Me: The ABCs of Inspiration for Black Kids is a book of affirmations for young Black children to help nurture and embrace their authentic selves and to find self-acceptance amid strong role models. In a similar way, Robb Pearlman's Dolls and Trucks Are for Everyone, illustrated by Eda Kaban, reassures preschoolers that they can be whomever and whatever they want and feel themselves to be.

Is there anything new coming up that you're especially excited about?

This month we have a fabulous picture book publishing by Stacy McAnulty and illustrated by Wendy Leach titled A Small Kindness. The book follows a group of children starting their first day of school and, like a game of tag, each does one kind thing for another. As the kindness spreads, so does the color, moving the book from a monochromatic palette to a bright, vibrant rainbow. And of course, we have two new books by Mallika Chopra publishing this year!

While I've focused mainly on picture books here, we are publishing a fantastic group of books across age groups from toddlers to YA. I especially hope middle-grade readers will feel empowered by two of our upcoming illustrated anthologies: Earth Squad: 50 People Who Are Saving the Planet by Alexandra Zissu and illustrated by Nhung Lê, and We Got Game!: 35 Female Athletes Who Changed the World by Aileen Weintraub and illustrated by Sarah Green.

A Peek at Future Titles with Creative Director Frances Soo Ping Chow

Frances J. Soo Ping Chow

Frances J. Soo Ping Chow is the Creative Director for Running Press. In her decades' long stint at the publisher, Soo Ping Chow worked closely with the editorial team to develop and grow Running Press Kids as well as create an RP spin on licensed programs. While her focus is the kids list, Soo Ping Chow oversees all Running Press and Black Dog & Leventhal imprints.

Hidden Treasure by Elly MacKay (Running Press Kids, $16.99, hardcover, 32p., ages 4-8, 9780762463015, June 1, 2021)
When a young treasure hunter goes to the beach for a day of playing in the surf, she dives deep under the waves to find treasures of all kinds. 

Soo Ping Chow's note: Years ago, when we acquired If You Hold a Seed, I was stunned by the serenity that Elly's art invoked. I've always wanted to work with her on a seaside book and with Hidden Treasure, Elly surpassed my expectations. My favorite illustration is the one of the girl reaching up to the whale-shaped clouds. Elly perfectly captures that early morning light glistening off gentle waves--absolutely stunning.

Sesame Street: Breathe, Think, Do with Elmo by Robin Newman, illus. by Ernest G. Kwiat (Running Press Kids, $12.99, hardcover, 48p., ages 4-8, 9780762470389, July 6, 2021)
Based on Sesame Street's popular Breathe, Think, Do app, this book helps teach essential problem-solving skills that will serve little monsters well at daycare, school and beyond!

Soo Ping Chow's note: Working with Sesame Street is always a great deal of fun, even more so when I get to art direct an illustrator named Ernie! Like his namesake Muppet, Ernie (the illustrator) added cheekiness and humor to an already wonderful book about teaching kids how to deal with problems.

The Junior Astrologer's Handbook by Nikki Van De Car, illus. by Uta Krogmann (Running Press Kids, $13.99, 168p., ages 8-12, 9780762499557, July 20, 2021)
Learn how to read your (and your friends') signs and to interpret the zodiac in this beautifully illustrated follow-up to The Junior Witch's Handbook.

Soo Ping Chow's note: One of the most fulfilling parts of my job is working with talented illustrators and Uta Krogmann is incredible. She makes this appear effortless. Uta did an amazing job capturing kids of all ethnicities and genders, adding light touches of intrigue and mysticism while keeping the crafts practical.

This Is Your World: The Story of Bob Ross by Sophia Gholz, illus. by Robin Boyden (Running Press Kids, $17.99, hardcover, 40p., ages 4-8, 9780762473564, September 7, 2021):
This delightful and reverent picture book biography tells the story of a gentle soul who loved painting and teaching others how to paint too.

Soo Ping Chow's note: I've learned so much about Bob from this picture book. I've always been a fan of his and love this story with its adorable illustrations. It is the perfect introduction to a young reader--truly touching and inspirational.

Running Press Kids: Enter for a chance to win our '21 self-care bundle!

Running Press Kids: My Body Is a Rainbow: The Color of My Feelings by Mallika Chopra, illustrated by Izzy Burton

Running Press Kids: I Affirm Me: The ABCs of Inspiration for Black Kids by Nyasha Williams, illustrated by Sóf'ya Glushkó

Running Press Kids: Pink Is for Boys by Robb Pearlman, illustrated by Eda Kaban

Running Press Kids: Sesame Street: Breathe, Think, Do with Elmo: Problem Solving for Little Monsters by Robin Newman, illustrated by Ernest G Kwiat

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