Philomel Books was created in the early 1980s from World Publishing Books for Young People, by Editor and Publisher Ann Beneduce. The World list lived up to its name, drawing in titles from around the globe—such as Mitsumasa Anno‘s Journey series and Satomi Ichikawa‘s Nora books. Ms. Beneduce was a pioneer as far as books that would sell to both trade and institutional markets, so for the new list she chose the name Philomel, a term for an English nightingale that means literally “love of learning.” The name implied that these books would be distinguished, beautiful in concept and form, fine enough to be sought as gifts, and original and handsome enough to be bought by libraries and schools. The early lists included such future classics as Eric Carle‘s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, an industry icon that has sold millions of copies worldwide and was even honored with its own U.S. postage stamp; Virginia Hamilton’s Newbery Honor-winning Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush; and Ed Young‘s Caldecott Honor-winning The Emperor and the Kite.
Patricia Lee Gauch, an author and teacher, came to Philomel in 1985. Sharing Ms. Beneduce’s vision, she built on the ideas that had already begun to flower at Philomel, and added to the distinguished list Caldecott-winners Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr, Lon Po Po by Ed Young, and So You Want to Be President? by Judith St. George and David Small, as well as the Caldecott Honor-winning Seven Blind Mice, also by Ed Young. Philomel became the primary publisher of popular author/artist Patricia Polacco, who created Pink and Say; Thank You, Mr. Falker, and many other biographical folktales that remain popular to this day.
Headed these days by President and Publisher Michael Green, who joined the imprint directly from graduate school in 1991 and never left, eventually taking helm of the list in 2003, Philomel has continued its tradition of quality picture books for the youngest of readers while simultaneously growing as one of the industry’s leaders in commercial fiction for middle-grade and young-adult readers. Philomel takes pride in its ability to reach the reluctant reader, especially the boy reader. Among its success stories are Anthony Horowitz‘s Alex Rider novels, #1 bestsellers the world over and catalyst for a whole new generation of spy fiction lovers; Mike Lupica‘s sports-centered novels, such as Million-Dollar Throw and Heat, that capture the purity of the 12-year-old sports fanatic in everyone, young or old; and John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice epic, the worldwide bestselling fantasy/adventure series that brings readers into the hearts and minds of those who defend a kingdom through courage, skill, and cunning.
The Philomel list includes many timeless fantasies. In the late 1980s it became a leader in the field with Brian Jacques‘s Redwall Tales, a series that grew to more than twenty books deep—including an illustrated cookbook and a graphic novel, and which reared a whole new generation of readers on animal adventures. T.A. Barron‘s popular fantasy epic The Lost Years of Merlin was the first to explore the legendary wizard’s teenage years. And Andrea Cremer‘s paranormal reinvention of werewolf mythology, Nightshade, is a richly textured, wildly romantic, and action-packed series for teen girls.
Other worlds, of one form or another, have always been of interest to Philomel. Hence its publishing of historical fiction, such as Ruta Sepetys’ critically-acclaimed, bestselling Between Shades of Gray, which sheds light on a dark period of history through one girl’s eyes. Set against a harsh Siberian backdrop during Stalin’s little-known extermination and imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of innocent Lithuanians during World War II, Between Shades of Gray was hailed by American critics as the best YA novel of the year, has been translated into thirty languages, was the recipient of distinguished international awards, and was a bestseller the world over.
Of course, Philomel still looks toward the picture book as the primary vehicle to bring reading to children and to make the experience a shared one with parents. Recent additions to the Philomel canon include Loren Long‘s re-illustrated edition of the classic Little Engine that Could along with his modern-classic series, Otis, about a heroic tractor and his farmyard friends. Maryann Cusimano Love and Satomi Ichikawa‘s You Are My I Love You celebrates the love between parent and child like few books can, while another ode to family, Pulitzer-Prize winning cartoonist Berkeley Breathed‘s Mars Needs Moms! was developed into a feature animated film. And Belfast native Oliver Jeffers has created some of the most distinctive and popular picture books in the market today, including the New York Times bestselling Stuck, This Moose Belongs to Me, and The Day the Crayons Quit, the latter a #1 blockbuster written by Hollywood screenwriter Drew Daywalt.
Philomel strives to foster a love of reading in children and young adults. It is a love of story, of language that captivates, of art that makes both a parent’s and child’s eyes open wide with delight, of books that beckon to be read over and over and yet lose none of their magic, that drives the people of Philomel to make quality books.
Publishing books and ideas that celebrate a child’s potential—indeed, human potential—in worlds past and present is Philomel’s goal.
- 2001: So You Want to Be President? by Judith St. George, illustrated by David Small
- 1990: Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China translated and illustrated by Ed Young
- 1988: Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr
Caldecott Honor Medal
Newbery Honor Medal
- 1983: Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush by Virginia Hamilton
- The New York Times Best-Illustrated Books of the Year
- 2012: The Hueys in: The New Sweater, written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
- 1993: The Bracelet by Yoshiko Uchida, illustrated by Joanna Yardley
- 1993: Gulliver’s Adventures in Lilliput by Jonathan Swift, retold by Ann Kay Beneduce, illustrated by Gennady Spirin
- 1988: Cats are Cats compiled by Nancy Larrick, illustrated by Ed Young
- 1988: Swan Sky by Tejima
- 1987: Fox’s Dream by Tejima
- 1982: Anno’s Britain by Mitsumasa Anno
New York Times Bestselling Titles/Series/Authors
- The Great Tree of Avalon by T.A. Barron
- Mars Needs Moms!; Pete & Pickles by Berkeley Breathed
- The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse; Friends by Eric Carle
- Nightshade; Wolfsbane; Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer
- You Are My Miracle by Maryann Cusimano Love, illustrated by Satomi Ichikawa
- The Adventures of Vin Fiz by Clive Cussler
- The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
- Toy Boat by Randall DeSeve, illustrated by Loren Long
- Ranger’s Apprentice; Brotherband Chronicles by John Flanagan
- Alex Rider novels by Anthony Horowitz
- Redwall by Brian Jacques
- Stuck; This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers
- The Little Engine that Could re-illustrated by Loren Long, original text by Watty Piper
- Otis; Otis and the Puppy; An Otis Christmas by Loren Long
- Travel Team; Heat; The Big Field; Million-Dollar Throw; Hero; QB1 by Mike Lupica
- Edenville Owls; The Boxer and the Spy; Chasing the Bear (a Young Spenser Novel) by Robert B. Parker
- Ginger and Petunia; The Graves Family by Patricia Polacco
- The Longest Season by Cal Ripken, Jr., illustrated by Ron Mazellan
- Between Shades of Gray; Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
This week brought the release of Oliver Jeffers’ Once Upon An Alphabet, the Philomel picture book of over 100 pages that gives stories to each letter in the alphabet. The Wall Street Journal raved, “The stories are wonderfully varied, sometimes philosophical and often end surprisingly; the drawings are just as quirky and unpredictable.” Other praise came from outlets including BookPage, The […]Read more >
Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers’ (Illustrator) The Day The Crayons Quit (Philomel) is a California Book Awards Finalist in the Juvenile Category.Since 1931, the California Book Awards have strived to annually recognize the state’s best writers and illuminate the wealth and diversity of California-based literature.This year’s award winners will be announced on June 9 at the Commonwealth […]Read more >