Little Bee Spreads Its Wings


Founded in 2014 as a children’s imprint of Bonnier Publishing USA, Manhattan-based Little Bee Books is dedicated to publishing “creative and fun books for busy little bees.” Its parent company is a division of Bonnier Publishing, which is in turn the English-language book publishing division of Sweden’s enormous Bonnier Group. Little Bee releases books in an array of genres, including board and novelty books, picture books, activity books, and nonfiction. The publisher hit the ground running: its top-selling title, Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, won a 2017 Caldecott Honor, and has close to 50,000 copies in print. Little Bee is now adding fiction to its lineup with the debut of Little Bee Chapter Books, aimed at newly independent readers ages 6–8.

Though Little Bee’s 2015 list was primarily comprised of children’s books that were originated by Bonnier’s U.K. divisions, including Templar, Studio Press, and Autumn Publishing, in 2016 the American editorial team began to develop its own titles. “It takes time to build a list, but from the start we knew we wanted to create originals and do something different in the board book, picture book, and nonfiction categories,” explained Sonali Fry, publisher of Little Bee as well as its sister imprint, Sizzle Books, which is devoted to licensed properties, media tie-in books, and pop-culture titles. The books of both imprints are distributed by Simon & Schuster in the U.S. and Canada.

Little Bee’s original publishing program has expanded quickly. In spring 2016, Little Bee’s first list of books originating in this country contained 10 titles. Just one year later, Little Bee’s spring 2017 list offers 28 new releases, and the publisher expects to issue some 50 books in spring 2018. “Our list of originals has been growing by leaps and bounds, and we decided that moving into chapter books was a natural progression for us,” Fry said.

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Publishers Weekly