Viking Children’s Books was founded in 1933 as a department of the prestigious Viking Press, known for publishing such authors as Sherwood Anderson, James Joyce, John Steinbeck, and Rebecca West. The first editor of Junior Books, as it was known, was May Massee, who soon established herself as a leader in children’s books. Her first list included The Story About Ping, and under her stewardship such classics as Make Way for Ducklings, The Story of Ferdinand, The Twenty-one Balloons, Pippi Longstocking, and the Madeline books were published.
Ms. Massee was succeeded by Annis Duff, Velma V. Varner, George Nicholson, Linda Zuckerman, Regina Hayes, and Kenneth Wright—seven publishers in seventy-five years.
Throughout Viking’s history, it has been known for innovation as well as for a dedication to quality that has created the rich backlist the house enjoys. Viking has published ten Newbery Medal winners and ten Caldecott Medal winners, more than any other publishing house, as well as twenty-seven Newbery Honor books, thirty-three Caldecott Honor books, and an American Book Award winner. Sixteen Viking books have been recognized as New York Times Best Illustrated Books. Two Viking books have received the Coretta Scott King Award, three have been Batcheldor Honor books, five have received the Christopher Medal, and two authors, S. E. Hinton and Richard Peck, have received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for bodies of work that included Viking titles. Among the ground-breaking titles published by Viking are The Outsiders (1969), still the best-selling young adult book ever published; The Snowy Day (1963), which brought multicultural books mainstream recognition; and The Stinky Cheese Man (1992), widely hailed for its innovative design. Two Viking titles, Book of the Lion by Michael Cadnum (2000) and This Land Was Made for You and Me by Elizabeth Partridge (2002) were chosen as finalists for the National Book Award. In 2006, John Lennon: All I Want is the Truth by Elizabeth Partridge was named a Michael L. Prinz Honor Book.
In 1985, Viking won the Carey Thomas Award for creative publishing, the first children’s list to receive this award. Viking has been nominated twice for the LMP Award for Best Children’s list.
Viking publishes approximately sixty titles per year, ranging from books for very young children such as board and lift-the-flap books to sophisticated fiction and nonfiction for teenagers.
The current Viking list is known for such classic characters as Madeline, Corduroy, Pippi Longstocking, Roald Dahl‘s Matilda, Rosemary Wells‘s Max & Ruby, The Stinky Cheese Man, Llama Llama, Angelina Ballerina, Cam Jansen, and Froggy. Viking publishes the entire works of Ezra Jack Keats, including The Snowy Day, winner of the Caldecott Medal, and Robert McCloskey, author of Make Way for Ducklings, a Caldecott winner, and Homer Price. In addition, Viking is the publisher of several bestselling YA authors, including Laurie Halse Anderson and Sarah Dessen.
Kenneth Wright is the president and publisher of the Philomel Books and Viking Children’s Books imprints. After graduating with a BA in English from the University of Colorado at Boulder, he worked his way up the editorial ladder to become an editorial director at Scholastic in 2001. In 2006 he joined Writers House as a literary agent, where he represented many award-winning and bestselling creators, including the award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors Ruta Sepetys, Steve Sheinkin, and Deborah Heiligman. After six years as an agent, he returned to the editorial side of publishing as the VP and associate publisher of Viking Children’s Books. In 2018, he became the president and publisher of both Viking and Philomel. While running these groups, Ken also makes time to edit a few select authors, including Oliver Jeffers, Arvin Ahmadi, and Gayle Forman. When he’s not working on books, you can find him gardening, traveling, and reading back issues of The New Yorker. You can follow him on Instagram @kenwright212.
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.
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.
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 hanging out with her English bulldog, watching slam poems on YouTube, or eating too much ice cream. Follow her on Twitter @cheryl_eissing.