Fred Rogers Productions names Scholastic master publishing partner for Alma’s Way

Fred Rogers Productions, the award-winning children’s educational media organisation behind multiple Emmy-winning PBS KIDS series, has tapped Scholastic as worldwide master publishing partner for Alma’s Way, the critically-acclaimed animated PBS KIDS series created by Sonia Manzano (Sesame Street).

The multi-year agreement includes a range of readers and activity books in both English and Spanish, which will begin publishing in spring 2023.

“We are delighted to partner with Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, and welcome them to the Alma’s Way family,” says Matt Shiels, VP of Business and Legal Affairs, Fred Rogers Productions. “The upcoming Alma’s Way titles will provide engaging stories and creative activities that will allow children to fully immerse themselves in Alma’s world.”

“We can’t wait to bring the wonderful role model, Alma, to young readers everywhere with Fred Rogers Productions and the inspirational Sonia Manzano,” says Debra Dorfman, VP and Publisher, Scholastic Global Licensing, Brands & Media. “In every story, children will relate to the everyday issues Alma faces and learn from her thoughtful reasoning as she thinks her way through life’s ups and downs.”

Through the new partnership, Scholastic will have exclusive rights to multiple formats, including: 8x8s; leveled readers; board books; jacketed hardcover picture books; novelty, activity, and sticker books; phonics and bind-ups/box sets; e-books; and audiobooks. In addition, Scholastic holds non-exclusive rights to sticker and activity books outside the U.S.

Aimed at viewers ages 4-6, Alma’s Way follows 6-year-old Alma Rivera, a proud, confident Puerto Rican girl, who lives in the Bronx with her parents, Abuelo, and younger brother, Junior, as well as a diverse group of close-knit and loving friends, family and community members. Each episode models self-awareness, responsible decision-making, and empathy, while encouraging kids to generate and value their own ideas and questions. The series’ 40 half-hour episodes showcase different aspects of Latino culture through music, food, language, and more.

Alma’s Way is created by, Sonia Manzano, best known to generations of kids and families as “Maria” on Sesame Street, and produced by Fred Rogers Productions.

Cyber Group Studios partners with Peacock for animated adventure series Press Start!

Best known for its award-winning preschool show Gigantosaurus, Cyber Group Studios has partnered with OTT video streaming service Peacock for new CG animated comedy adventure series Press Start!

Aimed at children aged 5-7, Press Start! is based on the bestselling and award-winning book series of the same name from Scholastic. Emmy-winning writer and showrunner Scott Kraft (PAW Patrol) is executive producer. The series is in production now and expected to begin streaming on Peacock in Q4 2023.

Press Start! (52 x 11) follows the adventures of Sunny and Rue Zaki, a dynamic brother and sister duo whose mysterious game controller gives them the ability to enter the world of their favorite fast-paced videogame, “24 KARAT QUEST”. Inside the fantastical game world, they team up with their videogame idol, Super Rabbit Boy, and help him save the world one eight-bit villain at a time.

Cyber Group Studios will support Press Start! at retail with a comprehensive merchandising programme. Last year, the company appointed Retail Monster to develop a strategic licensing programme in the U.S. based on the show.

The Press Start! graphic novel-style early-chapter books by author/illustrator Thomas Flintham have sold more than 2 million copies in the U.S. since their 2017 debut. Currently, 11 titles are available with four more in the pipeline. The books are published in 11 international territories.

Karen K. Miller, President & CEO, Cyber Group Studios USA, says:  “Press Start! is an internationally acclaimed book series that has thoroughly captivated readers by immersing them in the dynamic, fast-paced videogaming world led by a brother and sister team who together apply real-life skills to help save the day. This series takes inspiration from the books and will keep new and existing fans on the edge of their seats.”

Kristofer Updike, Vice President, Kids Development Entertainment Scripted & Unscripted Content NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, adds: “As Peacock doubles our original animated preschool content, we are thrilled to be working with such talented partners at Cyber Group Studios on the new, diverse series Press Start!, based on the award-winning Scholastic book series by Thomas Flintham. Our commitment to building a platform of trust, innovation, diversity and a place to call home for preschoolers, parents and caregivers is ever present in everything we create.”


Cyber Group Studios names Retail Monster US licensing agent for The McFire Family and Press Start!

Cyber Group Studios, the international producer/distributor of animated series best known for its award-winning preschool show, Gigantosaurus, has appointed licensing agency Retail Monster to develop strategic licensing programsme in the U.S. for two of its new CG animated kids’ adventure series: The McFire Family, an original production, and Press Start!, based on the best-selling book series from Scholastic.

“Retail Monster has a proven track record of success in developing meter-moving consumer products programmes, and we look forward to partnering with them to help establish and broaden the opportunities for these two new standout brands,” says Karen K. Miller, President & CEO, Cyber Group Studios USA.

The McFire Family and Press Start! are very engaging new series and we’re excited to be working with Cyber Group Studios to build best-in-class licensing programmes that will resonate with kids and their families across the U.S.,” says Michael Connolly, Founder and CEO, Retail Monster. “We expect to make partnership announcements very soon.”

The McFire Family (52 x 11) centres on a family of firefighters whose ancestors were the very first firefighters in history. The legacy continues with three siblings, 12-year-old Tom, 10-year-old Sparkle, and 6-year-old Jax, the next generation of “super-firefighters”, who join their parents and grandpa on exciting rescue adventures. Together, they use cool vehicles and high-tech gear to save the day. The series, for viewers ages 6-9, is created by Sissmann.

Press Start! (52 x 11), picks up where the popular Scholastic book series of the same name leaves off. The show follows the adventures of Sunny and Rue Zaki, a dynamic brother and sister duo who discover a mysterious game controller that gives them the ability to enter the world of their favourite videogame. Inside the game world, they team up with their videogame idol, Super Rabbit Boy, and help him save the world one eight-bit villain at a time. The show, for kids ages 4-7, is developed and executive produced by Emmy-winning writer and showrunner Scott Kraft (PAW Patrol).

Dino Ranch renewed for second season at Disney as its US preschool licensing slate readies for growth

The popular preschool series, Dino Ranch has been renewed for a second season at Disney, with a scheduled broadcast date on Disney Junior and Disney+ in the US and Latin America for the beginning of 2022.

A broad licensing programme is already underway with a master toy line from Jazwares preparing to launch this year, while Boat Rocker is currently working with its master publishing partner, Scholastic, to design and produce a wide range of Dino Ranch readers, sticker story books, novelty, activity books, and audio books with products slated to land this autumn.

Further licensees have been secured in the US for apparel, bedding and bath, watches, Halloween costumes, and costume characters for live events.

Season two of Dino Ranch follows a successful first season, which saw the series premiere on CBC in Canada, and was the number one US cable series among Kids aged two to five at launch on Disney Junior. Season one has also just launched on SVOD service Disney+ and is coming to Disney Junior Latin America in August, and SRC Canada in September.

“Dino Ranch has received an incredible response from kids and parents around the world and we couldn’t be happier to have the opportunity to produce a second season,” said Michel Pratte, president, Boat Rocker Media, and general manager, Boat Rocker Studios.

“The show is a shining example of franchise IP for Boat Rocker and we are looking forward to continuing to build brand affinity and engagement love for ‘Dino Ranch’ with our partners.”

Jon Rutherford, president, Boat Rocker Studios, Kids & Family and Rights, said: “We’re very excited to continue our strong partnership with Disney for Dino Ranch. Disney’s incredible support, along with the show’s ability to resonate with audiences through its unique blend of dinosaurs, family and engaging storytelling has helped us achieve immediate success. With Season two, we plan on deepening engagement with our fans by unveiling new characters and locations, and many new thrilling adventures with the Cassidy family.”

Internationall, the show has seen strong sales, including with Disney+ in the UK and Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. It’s also landed with Super RTL/TOGGO Plus in Germany, Gulli plus TiJi and Gulli Africa in France, Cartoonito in Italy, Hop in Israel, and SVT in Sweden. NRK in Norway, DR in Denmark, YLE in Finland, TVP in Poland, and HRT in Croatia have also picked up the series.

Dino Ranch is created by Matt Fernandes (of Industrial Brothers) and produced by Industrial Brothers and Boat Rocker Studios, in association with CBC Kids and Radio-Canada. Boat Rocker Studios manages global franchise development, including content distribution and consumer products. Animation services for season two of Dino Ranch will be provided by Boat Rocker’s Jam Filled Entertainment.

From the US | Mighty Mojo Toys named plush toy partner for Geronimo Stilton

The Italian entertainment media company, Atlantyca Entertainment has secured a new US toy partner for Geronimo Stilton, bringing its popular children’s book IP into the plush toy sector thanks to Mighty Mojo Toys.

In a deal brokered by the appointed US licesing agency, Firefly Brand Management, the plush range will be based on the series’ cast of characters to the North American market.

Created by Elisabetta Dami, the adventures of Geronimo Stilton and his family and friends have featured across almost 250 volumes, selling more than 175 million copies in 51 different languages around the world. 

In North America, the book series is published by Scholastic for all English speaking countries, making Geronimo Stilton one of the most globally popular kids’ books series.

Meanwhile, Mighty Mojo Toys has experienced its own success on the global stage, having enjoyed a fruitful run of plush lines for the popular children’s YouTube series Booba, PBS’ Super Why, and the Instagram celebrity, Doug the Pug.

The toy firm’s most recent releases include several officially licensed products from Spin Master’s Etch-A-Sketch.

“We’re so excited to be collaborating with the Geronimo Stilton team,” said Arash Maghaddam, CEO of Mighty Mojo Toys. “As fans, we’ve been watching its popularity explode over the years and cannot wait to share what we have in store for Geronimo and his friends.”

Cynthia Modders, president of Firefly Brand Management, added: “We are thrilled to be working on expanding the Geronimo Stilton programme with Mighty Mojo Toys. Geronimo Stilton is one of the best selling children’s books series, the famed mouse journalist is loved by children everywhere, maintaining a huge young fan base who are certainly going to enjoy these devoted character plush and toys.”

Interactive murder mystery brand Hunt A Killer signs global publishing deal with Scholastic

The interactive sci-fi, horror murder mystery entertainment company, Hunt A Killer has forged a new global partnership with Scholastic for launch of a series of novels, ebooks, and audio books, featuring all the characteristic clues of the Hunt A Killer games.

The first title to hit shelves through the global publishing deal will be Perfect Score, written by Angelica Monai, which will land in January 2022. The young adult novel promises to be a ‘mind-bending mystery’ featuring a cast of new characters and pages of intriguing clues.

Founded in 2016, Hunt A Killer began life as a single event that brought together elements from the escpae room, interactive theatre, and live entertainment sectors by engaging participants in a 200-acre living crime scene.

Since then, the entertainment brand has established itself as a premier murder mystery company known for its complex and unpredictable stories. Today, the company ships 150,000 episodic and complete mystery game boxes to its subscribers each month. It also sells purpose-built games through various retail channels.

The brand has, to date, sold some two million games.

Its new partnership with Scholastic – the global children’s publishing, education, and media company – will take the brand in novels, ebooks, and audio books on a global scale.

“We’re excited to partner with Scholastic and to see our brand represented on bookshelves across the nation,” said Hunt A Killer CEO and co-founder, Ryan Hogan. 

“Our mission as a company is to consistently raise the bar with engaging, interactive stories, and we want to continue to do that through new mediums. Working with Scholastic is a great opportunity to grow the audience for our brand of immersive, entertaining, and suspenseful storytelling.”

Following in the style of Hunt A Killer’s bestselling games, Perfect Score readers will be encouraged to use clues throughout the book – including notes, emails, news articles, school records, and more – to help aspiring P.I. Jolene Kelley find the culprit behind her guidance counselor’s death.

Debra Dorfman, vice president and publisher, global licensing, brands and media, at Scholastic, said: “Our team at Scholastic are big fans of the Hunt A Killer games, so we are thrilled to expand its impressive storytelling to a natural new format.

“The Hunt A Killer books are perfect for fans of the murder mystery games, as well as young adult readers who love a fast-paced whodunnit and innovative new ways to tell a story. We can’t wait for readers to get their hands on Perfect Score.”

The Point. 1888 and Moonbug Entertainment sign six new partners for pre-school hit Blippi

The Point. 1888 and Moonbug Entertainment Ltd have secured six new licensing partners for the popular children’s brand, Blippi. The latest raft follows the brand’s recent publishing partnership with DJ Murphy and builds on the growing demand for licensed Blippi products.

The Point. 1888 was appointed in the summer as the master licensing agency across EMEA for Blippialong with other brands in Moonbug’s portfolio, including CoComelon, My Magic Pet Morphle and ARPO.

Since coming on board, The Point.1888 has sought to capitalise on the show’s popularity with young children as well as the need to keep them entertained and engaged by signing licensees across a broad range of categories, including clothing, puzzles and games.

The new licensees secured by The Point.1888 for Blippi include Scholastic as master publisher, Poetic Brands for kids daywear, Misirli for Blippi branded socks, TDP Textiles and Aykroyds & Sons for Blippi pyjamas and swimwear, RMS International for Blippi puzzles, and Zak for Blippi branded lunch boxes.

The new line-up joins Blippi’s existing partners in Jazwares, Creative Kids, Texco, Round Room and DJ Murphy.

With over 12 billion content views worldwide, the fun and playful Blippi educates and entertains children aged two to six years old across the world, empowering them to explore their curiosity.

Bethan Garton, Commercial Director at The Point.1888, said: “The brand licensing programme for Blippi is really picking up pace, and that is in part thanks to the incredible team at Moonbug who have been so open to our ideas and share our passion in making this a success. It may look like there’s a lot going on now but trust me when I say it’s about to get even busier.”

Simon Philips, senior in-house advisor, Moonbug, added: “The Point.1888 has been an excellent partner and these new licensees are a testament to the hard work that the team has put into expanding the playful world of Blippi.”

The RHS and Scholastic to launch their first children’s activity books in February 2021

The Royal Horticultural Society has detailed the first titles in a new range of illustrated activity books for children in partnership with its publishing licensee Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books.

Aimed at children aged six to ten, the first titles in the series are scheduled to launch in February 2021. My Dinosaur Garden and My Unicorn Garden will look to inspire children to explore gardens and the outdoors with crafts, activities, gardening tips and nature facts.

The initial launch will be followed in March with the Outdoor Adventure Handbook, an activity book that will look at discovering plants, wildlife and getting closer to nature with activities for all weathers.

In May, to complement the new range, My Unicorn Garden Cards and Notelets will be launched. This is a creative make-and-do set with stickers that children can use to create unique messages to share with friends and family. Further books will follow in autumn 2021 and beyond.

The books will be available from bookshops, RHS shops, garden centres, through major online retailers and at Their publication will be marked with a collaborative marketing campaign to reach the extensive family and school audiences of both Scholastic and the RHS.

These are the first RHS-licensed publications from Scholastic following the announcement of a major RHS partnership with the respected children’s book publisher in August 2019. The partnership encompasses a wide range of children’s publications, including sticker and activity books, handbooks, illustrated non-fiction, board and colouring books, annuals, e-books and journals.

All the publications will make use of the range of expertise available to the UK’s favourite gardening charity as well as drawing on its work with families, schools and children.

This announcement also coincides with the continuing development of the RHS range of children’s products supported by a special style guide, both of which were announced at BLE 2019. The charity is addressing this growing young audience through a strong focus on children’s products in the coming months. This is especially relevant given the growth in family visits to gardens and parks – along with the much greater time devoted to gardening – during this year’s travel restrictions.

Cathy Snow, licensing manager, RHS, said: “One of our most important missions as Britain’s leading gardening charity is to encourage children to develop an interest in gardens and gardening. This is underlined by our development of a licensing programme for children’s products – and who better to help us communicate our message than one of the most admired names in children’s publishing?

“These activity books, which both inform and entertain, are a marvellous introduction to the wonders of wildlife and the joys of gardening.”

Elizabeth Scoggins, publisher, non-fiction, licensing and brands for Scholastic UK, added: “It is a privilege to be working with the RHS, the UK’s most-loved gardening charity. 2020 has made everyone really appreciate opportunities to be outdoors and to explore nature on our doorsteps.

“We look forward to publishing books that inspire children and families to discover the wonders of plants, wildlife and the outdoors using the expertise and passion of the RHS.”

Scholastic’s The Magic School Bus lands feature length film deal

The Magic School Bus is heading to the big screen for the first time in its 26-year history, thanks to a new deal between Scholastic Entertainment, Brownstone Productions, Marc Platt Productions, and Universal Pictures.

The feature length, live action hybrid film will star Elizabeth Banks as the widely-popular Ms Frizzle. Banks will also take on a producer role alongside Max Handelman for Brownstone Productions, as well as Scholastic’s president and chief strategy officer Iole Luchesse and SVP and general manager, Caitlin Friedman.

“We are delighted to bring to life the iconic Ms. Frizzle and her zest for knowledge and adventure in a fresh new way that inspires the next generation of kids to explore science and supports the dedicated teachers who help make science real and accessible for young learners every day,” said Lucchese.

“We’re also extremely excited to be working with such top-tier partners as Elizabeth Banks, Marc Platt Productions, Brownstone Productions, Universal Pictures, and all of the amazing talent assembled for this noteworthy feature film.”

Ryan Christians from Marc Platt Productions will oversee production with Sara Scott and Lexi Barta from Universal Pictures.

The upcoming The Magic School Bus film is based on the best-selling Scholastic book series by author Joanna Cole and illustrator Bruce Degen, now with over 80 million books in print worldwide. The science-focused series features the intrepid Ms. Frizzle and her class, who set out on field trips in their familiar-looking yellow school bus that magically transforms into a plane, submarine, spaceship, or surfboard, depending on the science concept being explored.

The popular books were first adapted into an animated TV series, featuring Lily Tomlin in the starring role as Ms. Frizzle, on PBS in 1994. The show aired for 18 consecutive years in the US and has been broadcast in more than 100 countries around the world, making it the longest-running kids science series in history

The standout program has earned more than 100 prestigious awards, including an Emmy Award, Annenberg Award and National Education Association Award. The Magic School Bus has also garnered high praise from parents and educators for making science education fun and appealing to all audiences.

An animated sequel to the original series, The Magic School Bus Rides Again, featuring Kate McKinnon (SNL) as Ms. Frizzle’s sister, Fiona, debuted on Netflix in 2017. Multi-award-winning composer/lyricist/playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, In the Heights) sang the theme song.