Philomel was created in the early 1980s as part of World Publishing Books for Young People, by Editor and Publisher Ann Beneduce. The imprint’s name, which literally means “lover of song,” implied that these books would be lyrical, beautiful in concept and form, and fine enough to be celebrated as gifts. The early lists included such future classics as Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which has sold hundreds of millions of copies worldwide; Virginia Hamilton’s Newbery Honor winning Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush; and Ed Young’s Caldecott Honor winning The Emperor and the Kite.
In 1985 Patricia Lee Gauch took over as Editor-in-Chief of Philomel. Sharing Ms. Beneduce’s vision, she published 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. She also published the soon-to-be iconic animal fantasy series Redwall by Brian Jacques and the inimitable homespun picture books of Patricia Polacco, including Pink and Say.
Michael Green joined the imprint as Editorial Assistant directly from graduate school in 1991, eventually taking the helm as Publisher in 2003. Under his direction, Philomel continued its tradition of producing 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 adults. His list included the #1 bestselling blockbuster The Day The Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers; Stuck, written and illustrated by Mr. Jeffers; Loren Long’s New York Times bestselling Otis series, about a heroic tractor and his farmyard friends; Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider spy novels, which are #1 bestsellers the world over; Mike Lupica’s sports-centered novels, such as Fantasy League and Heat, that capture the purity of the 12-year-old sports fanatic in all of us; and John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice epic, the worldwide bestselling fantasy/adventure series. Mr. Green’s quest to reach the reluctant reader added to Philomel’s initial mission and expanded the type of books published under the imprint’s name.
With an editorial staff of five, all working to create books that enlighten and inspire, the Philomel list has grown to include Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger‘s New York Times bestselling picture books She Persisted and She Persisted Around the World; Ruta Sepetys’s internationally acclaimed historical fiction bestsellers Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea; Lisa Graff’s National Book Award nominee A Tangle of Knots; Chelsea Clinton’s New York Times bestselling It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going!; Mayim Bialik’s Girling Up: How to be Strong, Smart and Spectacular; Emily Barr’s literary thriller The One Memory of Flora Banks; and many, many more.
Whatever the genre, 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 distinguished books.
Caldecott Medal Winner
Caldecott Honor Book
Newbery Honor Book
National Book Award Winner
National Book Award Nominee
The New York Times Best-Illustrated Books of the Year
Jill Santopolo, the Associate Publisher of Philomel Books, joined Penguin Random House in 2009 before attaining her current position in 2016. She holds a BA in English Literature from Columbia University and an MFA in Writing for Children from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Jill is best known for editing books that empower young readers, including the New York Times bestseller It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going! by Chelsea Clinton, the National Book Award-finalist A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff, the Amelia Bloomer winner The Secret Sky by Atia Abawi, the New York Times bestselling Nightshade series by Andrea Cremer, The Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron, Proxy by Alex London, Peanut Butter & Cupcake! by Terry Border, Girling Up: How To Be Strong, Smart and Spectacular by neuroscientist and star of The Big Bang Theory Mayim Bialik, and She Persisted, a picture book by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger that celebrates inspirational American women who embody the power of persistence. Jill is always on the lookout for well-written stories, both fiction and non-fiction, that challenge readers to think more deeply about the world around them. When she’s not editing, Jill is an adjunct professor in the New School’s MFA program in writing for children and is a novelist herself. You can follow her on Twitter at @jillsantopolo.
Liza Kaplan, Senior Editor at Philomel Books, joined Penguin Random House in 2007 before attaining her current position in 2013. She holds a BFA in Musical Theater, and English and American Literature, from New York University. Liza is best known for editing emotionally compelling literary novels that explore risky subjects—in both YA and middle grade—including #1 New York Times and international bestseller, Carnegie Medal finalist, and Golden Kite Award winner Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys, National Jewish Book Award finalist and Amelia Bloomer winner Audacity by Melanie Crowder, Carnegie Medal finalist Fire Color One by Jenny Valentine, Crazy Messy Beautiful by Carrie Arcos, The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter, The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr, and This Impossible Light by YouTube slam-poetry star Lily Myers. Liza is always on the lookout for superbly written realistic fiction, both contemporary and historical, that takes emotional risks and explores the complexities of the human condition. When she’s not editing, Liza can be found sharing the youngest of picture books with her own little reader. You can follow her on Twitter at @lizajkaplan.
Talia Benamy, Assistant Editor at Philomel Books, joined Penguin Random House as an Editorial Assistant in 2013. She graduated with a BA in English from Cornell University. Talia is the editor of Speak of Me As I Am by Sonia Belasco, a “stirring account of the trials of adolescence,” and of several upcoming picture books, including The Cat Who Lived with Anne Frank (written by David Lee Miller and Steven Jay Rubin, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley) and Bear Needs Help (written and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen). She is constantly on the lookout for books that have global significance and will help readers understand the world around them, as well as books that embrace feminism, celebrate wordplay, and focus on Judaism, politics, or space. When she’s not editing books, Talia can be found engaging in political activism, winning bar trivia nights, eating all the pizza, and planning her next trip. Follow her on Twitter at @taliabenamy.
Cheryl Eissing, Assistant Editor at Philomel Books, holds a BA in English from Rutgers University. She is always looking for fresh YA fiction, silly yet profound picture books, and stories that expose their readers to diverse experiences and, above all, entertain, educate, and inspire. When she is not editing books, Cheryl can be found hanging out with her English bulldog, watching slam poems on YouTube, tailgating a Rutgers football game, eating too much ice cream, and getting lost in Brooklyn.