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CHILDREN’S BOOKS


Egmont UK has found that children exposed to a brand through reading will have more merchandise than if they had arrived to the brand through toys or a TV show


“The partnership


between ourselves and popular brands absolutely encourages reading,” Smith continues, “and character driven books can really expand the world of a toy brand. “We found that if a child comes to a brand, say Thomas, through reading, they would have more merchandise than those who came directly through the toys or the TV show. “The parents know the


child enjoys Thomas and shares that experience of the world with them. Capturing the place in the heart comes from that relationship with books.” Of course, it is not only the licensed character books that engage young readers. With over 2,000 original titles in print, Usborne is one of the UK’s leading publishing houses, and prides itself on its collection of non-licensed interactive titles. “We are probably quite unique [for toy retail book distributors] because we don’t engage with licensed titles,” continues Howorth. “For us, traditional stuff


does really well. We have illustrated fairy tale collections, child friendly Shakespeare and Dickens and our Sticker Book collections are constant top sellers.


58 January/February


“We believe that the book and the story is the product, not the licence driving it. Our books are more about the experience and what the book can do for the child.” But Howorth is far from alone in her view on the nature of children’s books. “What books do for


children, they are a kind of toy,” suggests Anna Hewitt, head of licensing at Walker Books. “People don’t necessarily consider books as toys, and it’s often perceived that books are educational and therefore not about enjoyment. “But actually, it’s all about imagination, getting to know characters and experiencing their journey. They will experience them and then they will go and play.” So, how does


this relationship between children’s books and toys cement many of the classic and popular titles of today such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar or We’re


Going On A Bear Hunt, as heritage brands? And what’s needed to give these titles the rounded licensing programmes they enjoy today? “Time,” says Hewitt. “Books have the most amazing amount of credibility. It’s difficult to launch a book and then a licensing programme off of that book instantly. “You need time, or a second medium, and that’s usually television.” However, online retailer


of children’s books and character plush toys, Castlemere Books, believes all it simply needs to spark that passion is imagination. “Children


have great imaginations,” enthuses


Marianne Schulke, co- owner.


“When they fall in love with a character from their favourite storybook, that character comes to life for them. “They invent their own stories as they interact with the toys. “We have been doing this since 1982, and I have certainly seen an increase in demand for these character plush, dolls, puppets and finger puppets.” It is fair to say then that


the children’s book sector is growing ever stronger. And with its popularity set


We’re Going On A Bear Hunt with a new collection of memory card games, board games, floor puzzles and a four in one puzzle, all based on the popular children’s title.


The firm is also planning to launch a range of puzzles and card games for the popular Guess How Much I Love Youtitle this February. Meanwhile, Jumbo Games is preparing to deliver a new range of puzzles based on the popular children’s title Q Pootle 5.


When they fall in love with a character from their favourite storybook, that character comes to life for them. Marianne Schulke, Castlemere Books


to soar as Book Week approaches, what can the toy retailers do to make the most of it? “The dressing up element of Book Week really fires the imagination and brings characters to life,“ Struan Robertson, trade marketing and digital manager at Rubie’s Masquerade, tells ToyNews. “We produce a wide


range of costumes ideal for Book Week, from gladiators to maids, from pirates to licensed Harry Potter


costumes. “It’s an ideal opportunity to boost sales.” And that’s not all. Paul Lamond is helping to celebrate 25 years of


Created by Nick Butterworth, the author and illustrator of Percy the Park Keeper, Q Pootle 5 is finding success within the pre-school market, with various book titles and a new animated series on Cbeebies. Rainbow Designs is


celebrating 45 years of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar- a literary work that has been translated into over 50 languages and sold over 33 million copies worldwide - with a range of plush, wooden and developmental toys for pre-schoolers. And where better to end than at pre-school toys? Back to the beginning,


where the classic children’s books return to the hands of the only ones who can keep them alive, maybe for a further 25, 45 or even 111 years.


www.toynews-online.biz


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