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Licensing Hotline: June 28, 2012: Monster High Adds Middle Grades

Little, Brown will extend its publishing program for Mattel’s Monster High into middle grade readers by Gitty Daneshvari, author of the School of Fear books. The first Monster High series, by Lisi Harrison, consists of four YA novels.

“As the [Monster High] brand has grown exponentially, more of Mattel’s products were skewing younger, and this was becoming the core age for the property,” says Erin Stein, senior executive editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. She adds that anecdotal evidence suggested demand from girls who liked the property but were too young for the YA books.

“Lisi’s series functions as a prequel story to Monster High, explaining how Monster High became Monster High,” she explains. “This new series is set in a world where Monster High already exists.” Stories tie in closely to Mattel’s webisodes and direct-to-DVD content, and characters include not only the core cast, but three new characters Mattel introduced as dolls this summer, as well as book-only characters created by Daneshvari. While the YA series had a more realistic vibe, “this series is much more in-world and a little more fantastic,” Stein says.

Daneshvari’s work on School of Fear suggested a fit with the oddball humor of Monster High, according to Stein. “It’s always a challenge to think of who will be the right person for these projects,” she says. “They need a strong voice of their own, but they have to mesh with the world of the property.” The first title, the paper-over-board Ghoulfriends Forever, will come out this fall with a 150,000-copy printing.

Harrison’s series, with total copies in print totaling 950,000, ended with the publication of Back and Deader Than Ever in May. A boxed set will be released in the fall and paperbacks will remain available. Little, Brown is working with Mattel to get the best retail placement possible for both the middle grade and YA series this fall. Upon its launch in September 2010, Harrison’s first book appeared in displays next to the toys in some stores, as well as in Justice outlets. Both were firsts for the publisher.

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