Philomel 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 such future classics as Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar; 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. 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 soon-to-be iconic animal fantasy series Redwall by Brian Jacques and the classic picture books of Patricia Polacco, including Thank You, Mr. Falker.
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 simultaneously beginning to publish more commercial fiction for middle graders and young adults. The Philomel list grew to include #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 up to the world around them and the feelings inside them, and showed them how they could make a difference in the world.
With an editorial staff of six and a design staff of two, all working to create books that open minds and hearts and celebrate the potential in every reader, the Philomel list also includes, among others, Ruta Sepetys’s award-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling historical fiction titles Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea, and the award-winners Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine, A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff, and Audacity by Melanie Crowder.
Whatever the genre, Philomel strives to foster a love of reading in children and young adults. 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.
Caldecott Medal Winner
Caldecott Honor Book
Carnegie Medal Winner
Carnegie Medal Nominee
Newbery Honor Book
National Book Award Winner
National Book Award Nominee
National Jewish Book Award Nominee
The New York Times Best-Illustrated Books of the Year
William C. Morris Award Nominee
Jill Santopolo is the associate publisher of Philomel Books. After seven years at HarperCollins, she joined Penguin Random House in 2009 and became associate publisher in 2018. 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 #1 New York Times bestsellers She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger, Just Ask by Sonia Sotomayor and Rafael López, Girling Up by Mayim Bialik, and Superheroes Are Everywhere by Kamala Harris and Mechal Renee Roe. She also edited the National Book Award nominee A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff, the Amelia Bloomer winner The Secret Sky by Atia Abawi, the USA Today bestseller Peanut Butter & Cupcake! by Terry Border, and the LA Times bestseller Carnival Magic by Amy Ephron, as well as award-winning and bestselling books by Temple Grandin, Andrea Robertson, Jane Yolen, Ed Young, and many others. Jill loves publishing books that challenge readers to think more deeply about the world around them. When she’s not editing, Jill is a New York Times bestselling novelist herself. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @jillsantopolo.
Ellice Lee, art director of Philomel Books, joined the team in 2017. She holds a BA in sociology from UCLA and a BFA from Art Center College of Design. Ellice has worked with award-winning talent including Alexandra Boiger, Rafael López, Loren Long, LeUyen Pham, Christian Robinson, Kadir Nelson, Ed Young, and Floyd Cooper. Titles she has worked on have appeared on the New York Times bestseller lists (most recently, Just Ask! by Sonia Sotomayor and She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton), been featured in New York Magazine and TIME, and have won Caldecott Honors and Coretta Scott King Awards, as well as been a finalist for the National Book Award. Ellice loves working with talent who have a compelling story to share—from the political to the social to the inane.
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 novels that explore the complexities of being human, including #1 national bestseller The Fountains of Silence and #1 New York Times bestseller and Carnegie Medal winner Salt to the Sea, both by Ruta Sepetys; National Jewish Book Award finalist Audacity and Amelia Bloomer Award winner An Uninterrupted View of the Sky, both by Melanie Crowder; The Fall of Innocence and the We Are Not from Here by Pushcart Prize nominee Jenny Torres Sanchez; We Are All That’s Left by National Book Award finalist Carrie Arcos; Carnegie Medal finalist Fire Color One by Jenny Valentine; This Impossible Light by YouTube slam poetry sensation Lily Myers; Christopher Award winner The Ostrich and Other Lost Things by Beth Hautala; and others. Liza’s newly curated picture book list will debut in Summer 2020, and she will publish the picture book debut of New York Times Book Review editor Pamela Paul in 2021. Liza is on the lookout for superbly written realistic fiction, underrepresented stories and voices, and those with a slight touch of magical realism—across both contemporary and historical—in middle grade and YA. When she’s not editing, Liza can be found sharing picture books at home with her own little readers. You can follow her on Twitter @lizajkaplan.
Monique Sterling, senior designer at Philomel Books, joined the team in 2019. She holds a BFA in graphic design from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a minor in communication design. Before making the pivot to children’s publishing, she worked as a freelancer and full-time designer in several industries, including print, online education, advertising, marketing/promo, and data visualization. Now, as a book designer, she works on picture books and nonfiction titles that celebrate diverse characters. Outside of book design, she enjoys bringing these characters to life as a motion graphic designer, handlettering fun quotes, and discovering vibrant artwork on the streets of New York.
Kelsey Murphy, editor at Philomel Books, joined Penguin Random House as an editor in 2018. She graduated from New York University with a degree in dramatic literature, film studies, and theater history, and a minor in creative writing. Kelsey edits picture books, middle grade, and young adult fiction and nonfiction, as well as select graphic novels. She is particularly interested in middle grade and young adult fantasy, sci-fi, thrillers, mysteries, magical realism, contemporary realism, romance, historical and sports nonfiction, and more—with a blend of literary and commercial appeal. She’s a particular fan of nonfiction picture book biographies and sophisticated, humorous picture books. Kelsey’s always looking for projects by underrepresented creators, as well as projects featuring characters of color and/or LGBTQIA+ characters. She is the editor of Girls Save the World in This One by Ash Parsons, This Is How We Fly by Anna Meriano, and Trouble in the Stars by Sarah Prineas, as well as the Brotherband and Royal Ranger series by John Flanagan, and the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz. When not reading or writing, Kelsey can sometimes be found performing long-form improv comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York, or watching every movie in the Criterion Collection. You can follow her on Twitter @kelseybmurphy.
Talia Benamy, associate 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 Folktales for Fearless Girls by Myriam Sayalero and Dani Torrent, The Bear Must Go On by Dev Petty and Brandon Todd, The Heart of a Whale by Anna Pignataro, Penny and the Plain Piece of Paper by Miri Leshem-Pelly, and The Cat Who Lived with Anne Frank by David Lee Miller, Steven Jay Rubin, and Elizabeth Baddeley. She is constantly on the lookout for books that will help readers understand the world around them and their place in it, 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 @taliabenamy.
Cheryl Eissing, associate editor at Philomel Books, holds a BA in English from Rutgers University. She edits picture books, middle grade, and young adult, and is specifically interested in stories that expose their readers to experiences and perspectives that the children’s book world hasn’t seen before. Cheryl is the editor of the USA Today bestselling Pages & Co. series by Anna James, the New York Times bestseller The Little Ghost Who Lost Her Boo (written by Elaine Bickell and illustrated by Raymond McGrath), and a number of upcoming picture books, including Love Is Here by Mike Malbrough and My School Stinks! (written by Becky Scharnhorst and illustrated by Julia Patton). Cheryl is always looking for fresh YA fiction, whether it be contemporary, thriller, romance, horror, or fantasy; silly yet profound picture books; and above all, stories that entertain, educate, and inspire. When she is not editing books, Cheryl can be found walking her English bulldog around Brooklyn, watching slam poems on YouTube, or eating too much ice cream. Follow her on Twitter @cheryl_eissing.