Sylvan Dell is a young company on a serious mission to create picture books that excite children’s imaginations, are artistically spectacular, and have educational value. All of its books start with fun, warm stories, generally fiction with math, science, or nature themes and are brought to life by art. We have 80 wonderful authors and illustrators on our team.
Each book features a 3-6 page “For Creative Minds” section that includes fun facts, crafts, vocabulary and games to reinforce the educational value and to support National & State Science and Math Standards. All of the titles from Sylvan Dell are carefully vetted by experts in the field including scientists and educators from NASA, NOAA, SeaWorld, Houston Zoo and various nature centers and aviaries. Sylvan Dell picture books are generally built for an audience between the ages of 4 to about 8.
Big Universe had a chance to sit down with Heather Williams, Public Relations Coordinator for Sylvan Dell, for the latest in our Publisher Spotlight series.
Big Universe: We'd love to hear about what you're doing at your company... What are some of the most popular items that you've published in the last three years?
Heather Williams: We had a great fall season with A Warm Winter Tail, and The Tree That Bear Climbed being very popular with families and younger children. Also, we were thrilled with the announcement by the National Science Teachers Association in Combination with the Children’s Book Council that Desert Baths and Gopher to the Rescue were both chosen for the Outstanding Science Trade books of 2012. Newton and Me, a fun story about force and motion was chosen by Reading is Fundamental for their 2012-2013 STEAM Multicultural Booklist. Improving literacy in this country is so important to us, and RIF will distribute 650 of the collections to literacy programs
Big Universe: In looking at the current front list and the upcoming season, are there any specific themes that you've focused on in the catalog?
Heather Williams: The new photographic series Animal Helpers by Jennifer Keats Curtis will be building over the next few years. The first book in the series introduced readers to rehabilitators, the second explores the work of animal sanctuaries, and the third due out this fall will be all about animal care at zoos. We are building on our physical science collection as well with Balloon Trees, an exploration of how sap from a rubber tree becomes a balloon and The Fort on Fourth Street, (fall 2013) is all about six simple machines. Nature Recycles: How about you? takes a unique perspective on conservation and shows children how animals recycle in their environment.
Big Universe: Do you have a personal favorite from the current catalog that isn't getting lots of 'buzz'? What is it about that book that sets it apart for you?
Heather Williams: Shark Baby is my personal favorite for the upcoming spring season. Most shark books are about how dangerous and scary sharks are, but Shark Baby is a sweet story about finding your identity. There are a ton of really interesting shark facts throughout the book, and the adorable artwork makes you fall in love with Shark Baby.
Big Universe: What is the book that has been the biggest surprise to you (can be a sleeper, new series that has gone like wildfire, a book that was the cover but not as popular as others, etc.)?
Heather Williams: Solar System Forecast is a recent break out surprise of 2012. The story delivers a forecast for each planet in the solar system from the Solar Weather Channel. The information throughout the story is highly technical, and is probably best understood by an older student. Illustrator Laurie Allen Klein, added great illustrations and each page has a little hidden surprise.
After the initial launch this book was definitely a sleeper, but in recent months it has taken off. I am happy to see this book do so well; I think that kids will get a great picture of how very different the planets atmospheres really are.
Big Universe: What's next for your company? Are there changes coming in the following year? Do you have any new series or product lines that you’d like to share with us?
Heather Williams: We are expanding our releases to include more and more titles each year. In 2013 we will release 14 new books and hope to produce even more in 2014. The photographic series Animal Helpers has done so well we are excited to continue with more photographic books. Most importantly is what we are keeping the same, and the focus on the “for creative minds” section of each book is equally important as the story.