Philomel Books was created in the early 1980s as part of World Publishing Books for Young People, by editor and publisher Ann Beneduce. The imprint was named after the nightingale, using a term that literally means “lover of song,” which implied that these books would be lyrical, beautiful in concept and form, and fine enough to be celebrated as gifts. The early lists included Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar 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. Under her leadership, Philomel 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, as well as the iconic animal fantasy series Redwall by Brian Jacques and the classic picture books of Patricia Polacco.
Michael Green took the helm as publisher in 2003. Under his direction, Philomel continued its tradition of producing quality picture books for the youngest of readers while publishing more commercial fiction for middle graders and young adults. The Philomel list grew to include the #1 bestselling blockbuster The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers, Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers, Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider spy novels, Mike Lupica’s sports-centered novels, and John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice epic. This quest to reach reluctant readers added to Philomel’s initial mission and expanded the type of books published under the imprint’s name.
In 2018, Kenneth Wright became Philomel’s publisher and, working with Jill Santopolo as associate publisher, continued to expand the definition of a Philomel book, publishing books meant to enlighten, inspire, and empower young readers. Philomel’s list grew to include the #1 New York Times bestsellers She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger, Just Ask! by Sonia Sotomayor and Rafael López, Superheroes Are Everywhere by Kamala Harris and Mechal Renee Roe, and Girling Up: How to be Strong, Smart and Spectacular by Mayim Bialik. These books and many others opened readers’ eyes to the world around them and the feelings inside them, and showed them how they could make a difference.
The Philomel team creates books that celebrate the potential in every reader, and its list of award-winners also includes, among others, New York Times bestselling historical fiction titles Between Shades of Gray, Salt to the Sea, and The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys, all recognized by the Carnegie committee, and Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine and A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff, both recognized by the National Book Award committee.
Whatever the genre, Philomel strives to foster a love of reading in children and young adults. We aim to publish books that offer insight and new perspectives, and that show children what they can accomplish. It is an appreciation of story, of language, of books that can be read over and over and yet lose none of their magic that drives Philomel to make distinguished, meaningful books year after year.