TOON Books, founded by Francoise Mouly in 2008, has found a new home: The publisher was acquired by Astra Books for Young Readers (ABFYR), and is now that ABFYR’s seventh imprint.
“TOON books are all about using kids’ natural affinity for the symbolic language of comics, to get everyone, even the most reluctant readers, to develop a passion for reading,” Mouly said in a statement in the official announcement. “With the help of Astra’s start-up spirit and its rock-solid infrastructure of publishing industry veterans, we’re eager to expand from a niche publishing house and bring our beloved titles to an even wider audience.”
TOON Books is distributed by Consortium/Ingram. Astra Publishing House books are distributed by Penguin Random House Publisher Services.
Mouly started TOON Books in 2008, and when ICv2 announced it, we noted “The target audience is younger than almost any other comic material currently being published — kids four and up” (see “Mouly and Spiegelman Launch Kids GN Line”). With well known authors like Jeff Smith and Mouly’s husband Art Spiegelman, the line got off to a strong start: One of their first books, Eleanor Davis’s Stinky, was named a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book by the American Library Association, and the following year, Geoffrey Hayes’ Benny and Penny in the Big No-No! won the Geisel Award and Jeff Smith’s Little Mouse Gets Ready was named a Geisel Honor Book. The Geisel award is a book award, not a comics award, and these awards helped bring children’s comics to the attention of librarians and other gatekeepers.
In 2010, TOON Books partnered with Candlewick Press, which helped them gain more ground in the children’s market and moved their distribution from Diamond Book Distributors to Random House, which distributed all Candlewick titles (see “TOON Books Joins Forces with Candlewick Press”). A few years later, the two parted company, and TOON went back to being independent.
TOON added a new imprint, TOON Graphics for Visual Readers, for readers age eight and up, in 2014 (see “Toon Books Launches New Imprint”).
Last year, Mouly was inducted into the Eisner Comic Awards Hall of Fame (see “Eisner Hall of Fame Inductees Announced”).
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