Hear from our 2017 speakers

Lauren Child on being Children's Laureate

Award-winning author and illustrator Lauren Child was unveiled as the next Waterstones Children's Laureate in June. She shares her thoughts on stepping into Chris Riddell's shoes and what she plans to do in the role with us. Read more

Lauren Child will be speaking at The Bookseller's Children's Conference 2017 in conversation with the Times' arts editor Alex O’ Connell about her aspirations for her term as Laureate and her views on publishing and readers.

Heritage Children's Publishing Brands

Some of the most popular children's publishing brands are celebrating significant anniversaries. Kiera O'Brien, charts and data editor at The Bookseller, rounds up how many books these brands have sold to date.

Kiera O'Brien will be providing an overview of the children's book market at The Bookseller's Children's Conference 2017.

Selling classic children's books

Three independent booksellers share their thoughts on the classic children's book brands that they and their customers love.

Tereze Brikmane, manager of Tales on Moon Lane in Herne Hill, south London:

What heritage children’s authors or brands do you recommend to customers most often and why?

Each staff member has their own favourite authors and some of our bestselling heritage authors are: Noel Streatfield, Roald Dahl, Michael Morpurgo, Judith Kerr, Allan Ahlberg, Margaret Wise Brown, Dr Seuss and Angela Banner's Ant and Bee series. We recommend these books because they hold good memories for us from our own childhoods and they make great gifts.

Which current and heritage authors or brands are particularly popular with your customers?

Roald Dahl, Shirley Hughes, Eric Carle, Tintin, Asterix, Enid Blyton, Where's Wally, Harry Potter and the Ant and Bee books.

What qualities do you think a children’s book or brand needs to have to be considered a ‘classic’?

Good writing, well crafted characters, and lives and experiences portrayed in a way that readers can relate to.

Can you name an example of a heritage children’s publishing brand that has done a great job of keeping fresh and relevant in today’s market?

It would definitely be Harry Potter; each new edition seems to be another hit with the fans and customers.

Which current authors or brands do you think have the potential to become heritage brands in the future?

Chris Haughton, Chris Riddell, Alex T Smith, Sally Gardner, Patrick Ness and Frances Hardinge.

Louise Chadwick, owner of Button & Bear in Shrewsbury:

What heritage children’s authors or brands do you recommend to customers most often and why?

A lot of customers come in specifically looking for Peter Rabbit books as gifts for newborns. We show them the range of Beatrix Potter books, particularly the writing as it can be a challenging read. However, many say they are looking at the images rather than the story. Interestingly, Peter Rabbit book purchases by parents and grandparents are usually the original Frederick Warne ones but pre-schoolers tend to much prefer the contemporary animated Peter Rabbit from TV.

Which heritage authors or brands are particularly popular with your customers?

Recently, the new vintage hardback and board book versions of Ladybird books 123 and ABC are really popular. The Little Train by Graham Greene is a favourite for grandfathers in particular. A lot of our customers are new parents and they are invariably looking for books for their children from their own childhood.  There are lots of requests for the Ahlberg books such as Each Peach Pear Plum (with many reciting the entire book to us), Baby Catalogue and Burglar Bill. As they get older, many parents enjoy reading the Magic Faraway Tree stories and The Wishing Chair by Enid Blyton, looking for the original rather than the updated, rather sanitised text. Other requests include original illustrations by parents for Thomas the Tank Engine books but children prefer animated ones and it’s the same for Paddington too.

There are a lot of requests from parents for Ladybird classic tales with the original illustrations. The stories are available but with updated illustrations, so parents are turning to the secondhand market to source originals.

What qualities do you think a children’s book or brand needs to have to be considered a ‘classic’?

A strong storyline is essential, one that parents enjoy reading and children want to hear. Books that are returned to again and again will remain throughout childhood and be ones that  adults are keen to return to.

Which current authors or brands do you think have the potential to become heritage brands in the future?

The Gruffalo is timeless so bound to be a classic. Interestingly, The Tiger Who Came to Tea is very much of its time and seen as a classic because of that; many overseas visitors from the US and Australia seek it out as a traditional British picture book. I think this could be replaced in the future by one of Steve Anthony's books from The Queen collection.

Nicola Lee, owner of Children’s Books Huddersfield:

What heritage children’s authors or brands do you recommend to customers most often and why?

Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter is probably our most recommended heritage brand, along with Winnie the Pooh. The stories are timeless and gender neutral and they tap into people’s collective memory from their own childhood. They have also expanded the range, with pop-ups, cut outs, board books and more, and also other authors writing new stories about the same characters (Emma Thompson in the case of Peter Rabbit). Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Longstocking books would be recommended for older children.
 
Which current and heritage authors or brands are particularly popular with your customers?

Our customers still like Enid Blyton, her Magic Faraway Tree and Famous Five books in particular. Again it’s because they remember them from their own childhood. I often try to recommend alternative adventure series such as Robin Stevens’ Murder Most Unladylike series, Katherine Woodfine’s The Sinclair’s Mysteries, Lauren St John’s books and Elen Caldecott’s Marsh Road Mysteries. Also, Ladybird books, particularly the traditional tales, do well for us – they are straightforward and have traditional illustrations which grannies love. Roald Dahl, of course, is already deemed a classic author.

What qualities do you think a children’s book or brand needs to have to be considered a ‘classic’?

To become a classic I think the stories have to have a timeless quality to them. Anything contemporary dates very swiftly, as I learned when I opened a box of children’s books that I deemed worthy of keeping only to discover they were out-of-date and irrelevant in today’s world and promptly threw away!

Which current authors or brands do you think have the potential to become heritage brands in the future?

I think the Guess How Much I Love you series is well on its way to becoming a heritage brand. Katherine Rundell, author of Rooftoppers, The Wolf Wilder and The Explorer should be a classic in the future.

Daphne Lao Tonge, founder and owner of Illumicrate, Asda's books buying manager Phil Henderson and Tamara Macfarlane, author and owner of Tales on Moon Lane, will be talking about children's bookselling over the past year at The Bookseller's Children's Conference 2017.

Literature that promotes empathy and mindfulness

There is an increasing focus on the potential and need for children's books to promote empathy and mindfulness. Some children's authors pick out their favourite examples of literature that already does this:

Lauren Child picked The Eighteenth Emergency by Betsy Byars (Red Fox) as her empathy read. She said: “A funny and poignant story, we see through the eyes of Mouse what it feels like to be in fear of a bully and how he copes with that.”

Allie Esiri picked the haiku A Giant Firefly by Issa as an example of writing which encourages mindfulness.

A giant firefly:
that way, this way, that way, this —
and it passes by.

She said: “A haiku is a great example of a type of poem that promotes mindfulness. This concentration on a wonder of nature can be a perfect act of mindfulness.”

She also highlighted Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem Rain.

The rain is raining all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here,
And on the ships at sea.

She said:  “It just makes you stop and think of the rain all around. It’s a pocketful of peace.”

Bali Rai picked Where Monsters Lie by Alan Gibbons (Corgi Children's) as his empathy read. He said: “A wonderful story that deals with parental loss, fear and hope, yet still manages to be warm and gentle and encourage oodles of empathy in readers.”

Liz Pichon picked Wonder by R J Palacio (Corgi Children's) as her empathy read. She said: “Everyone can remember how anxious you feel starting a new school but for Auggie (August), who has a facial deformity, it's agonising. You really get to see what life is like from his point of view and for his friends and family too, plus there are some nice touches of humour throughout.”

Cressida Cowell picked Wonder by R J Palacio (Corgi Children's) and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Arrow) as her empathy reads. She said: “Wonder is a thoughtful joy of a book - it pulls you into August Pullman’s life and beautifully illustrates the transformative power of empathy and kindness. To Kill a Mockingbird has one of my favourite quotes: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Alex Wheatle picked Will Hill’s After the Fire (Usborne) as an example of a book promoting mindfulness. He said: “It's a brilliant story of a young girl who has been totally brainwashed by a cult. Her normal has been pre-conditioned by others with an agenda. It'll be fascinating to see how she copes when the outside world's realities impact on her.”

Cas Lester picked A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond (HarperCollins Children's Books) as her empathy read. She said: “This heartwarming, timeless classic reminds us to welcome migrants to our country, especially the young and vulnerable.”

Cathy Cassidy picked The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce (Walker) as her empathy read. She said: “This is one of the most perfect and heartbreaking books written on the subject of refugees - wonderful, warm and brimful of empathy.”

Robin Stevens picked The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Walker) as her empathy read. She said: “Hero, Starr, has a teenage life that couldn't be more different from mine, but reading this made me understand, deeply and absolutely, what it's like to be Starr. Stories like THUG have the power to bring people together, to open their eyes and to make them feel, not just know about, the pain of others.”

Sita Brahmachari picked The Pomegranate Tree by Vanessa Altin (Blanket Press) as her empathy read. She said: “Tracing the story of a refugee child from his life in normality to leaving his homeland and surviving, this made me weep, but also I was in awe of the strength of characters to survive and adapt to change.”

Ed Vere picked William Steig’s Abel’s Island (Pushkin’s Childrens) and Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad stories as example of literature that promotes mindfulness. He said: “I immediately think of the wonderful Abel's Island in which Abel marooned on his small island examines the life he once had and which had been taken for granted - his new situation forces him to reconsider life's meaning. Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad stories stand out too - many of them examine attitudes and self in one way or another.”

Gill Lewis picked Hollie McNish’s poem hidden woods as an example of literature promoting mindfulness.

 

She said: “Maybe mindfulness means something different to different people, but this does it for me.

Miranda McKearney OBE, founder of EmpathyLab, and Professor Robin Bannerjee, professor of developmental psychology at the University of Sussex, will be talking about how books can create better citizens at The Bookseller’s Children’s Conference 2017. Writer and editor Allie Esiri will also be discussing ‘Poetry as mindfulness for Generation Z’.

Introducing a Change Is Gonna Come

Little Tiger Group imprint Stripes Publishing put out a call for unpublished writers to contribute short stories to its BAME YA anthology A Change is Gonna Come earlier this year. The four selected writers - Mary Bello, Aisha Bushby, Phoebe Roy and Yasmin Rahman - talk about their experiences of being published here:

Little Tiger Group’s brand director Lauren Ace and publicity and marketing executive Charlie Morris will share their approach to PR and marketing for A Change is Gonna Come at The Bookseller’s Children’s Conference 2017. Writer and teacher Darren Chetty, who wrote the foreword, will also speak about the thinking behind the book.

20 years of Harry Potter magic

The first book in J K Rowling's Harry Potter series was published 20 years ago. We take a look at how the story of a boy wizard grew into a record-breaking franchise.

James McKnight, chief creative officer at The Blair Partnership, will be presenting 20 years of Harry Potter magic - including audience insight and how the partnership matrix works - at The Bookseller's Children's Conference 2017.

Stripes Publishing on championing change in YA

Stripes Publishing, an imprint of the Little Tiger Group, has just published A Change is Gonna Come, an anthology of YA short stories about change by authors from BAME backgrounds, in response to the lack of diversity in publishing. Ruth Bennett, commissioning editor at Stripes, and editorial mentee Aa’Ishah Z Hawton, who shadowed Bennett during the editorial process, share their experiences of working on it. Read more

Little Tiger Group’s brand director Lauren Ace and publicity and marketing executive Charlie Morris will be talking about their approach to PR and marketing for A Change is Gonna Come at The Bookseller’s Children’s Conference 2017. Writer and teacher Darren Chetty, who wrote the foreword, will also be speaking about the thinking behind the book.

What children want from author events

Authorfy is a literacy platform that aims to inspire children and increase the appeal of reading and writing. As well as working with the children’s publishers and running creative writing workshops for the last six years, the team behind Authorfy regularly asks students what they want from books, storylines, artwork and more. Here's a brief insight into what children want from author events. 

Mel Taylor-Bessent, director of Authorfy, will be presenting a full video sharing ‘What Children Want’ at The Bookseller's Children’s Conference 2017.

Alice Curry on inclusive publishing

Lantana Publishing’s evolution has been remarkable—and rapid. Founder Alice Curry explains why the list has refused to compromise on its inclusive ethos. Read more

Alice Curry will be speaking at The Bookseller's Children's Conference 2017 with children’s author and illustrator Nadine Kadaan about publishing books for today's audiences.

Kiran Millwood Hargrave on girl power

Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s début novel A Girl of Ink & Stars was a massive hit, winning the British Book Awards’ Children’s Book of the Year and a slew of other prizes too. She talks to us about being a prize-winner, as well as her current and future projects. Read more

Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Chicken House m.d. Barry Cunningham will be speaking at The Bookseller's Children's Conference 2017 about The Girl of Ink & Stars and its success. 

Finding and publishing under-represented writers

Penguin Random House UK launched its nationwide WriteNow scheme to find, mentor and publish new writers from under-represented communities. Mainga Bhima, assistant editor at Penguin Random House Children’s Books, and author Nazneen Ahmed share their experiences of taking part in the scheme.

 

Mainga Bhima and Nazneen Ahmed will be discussing finding, mentoring and publishing new writers from communities under-represented on the nation’s bookshelves at The Bookseller's Children's Conference 2017.

Ask the influencers

Some of the Children's Conference 2017 speakers share their insight into the best examples of children's and YA publishing from this year, as well as the issues still facing the industry:

Hilary Murray Hill, c.e.o., Hachette Children's Group

Which children’s entertainment campaign do you think knocked it out of the park this year?

I think Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls was the right book at the right time in the right package, and it appeals to both parents and children. Peter Bunzl’s Cogheart also caught my eye – it had a lot of love at grassroots level and showed what was achievable with a committed and energetic author. Plus, it was another great piece of design.

I’m looking forward to publishing Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend and The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell this autumn, which have both had ambitious, creative campaigns from acquisition onwards.

What is your favourite heritage children’s entertainment brand and why?

I’m continually fascinated by the development of Enid Blyton. I find I’m learning new things all the time. Being a licensor gives any publisher a different perspective – and one I feel very lucky to have.

Dr Seuss still works for the reasons he always has – the anarchy, the colour, the irreverence. It’s completely appealing to contemporary children, as well as the parents that grew up with him. The rhymes and repetition give children such confidence when they’re first learning to read. Couple that with the peerless fun of the books and it’s no surprise Dr Seuss has endured. I’d be amazed if the Dr Seuss book were ever re-illustrated.

What do you think publishers should do to keep heritage children’s brands fresh?

You need to reinforce the benefits and wonders of these brands in different ways to each new generation. It’s sometimes important to collaborate with contemporary illustration talent, for example, whilst ensuring you don’t lose the work’s original magic. With our new covers and publishing for Enid Blyton, we’ve tried to represent her sense of adventure, fun, and excitement in a way that sings in 2017.

What do you think are the major issues facing the children’s publishing industry at the moment?

In many ways, the same issues that children’s publishers have faced since the industry began: how we can predict what (and how) children of the next generation want to read, and how to balance that long-term vision with increasingly rapid changes in trends and opportunities; how we can make sure we are publishing for children themselves, and not the gatekeepers.

We still have a long way to go in terms of a diverse market and industry. There are many children in the UK who can’t see themselves in a book. There are barriers which discourage applications for publishing jobs. Hachette, like many other publishers, is proactively implementing strategies to break through these barriers, but we acknowledge that this is just part of changing the story. We all need to be more outward-facing.

I would like the wider industry, and policy-makers, to wake up to the importance of the children’s book market, both economically and socially. The children’s trade is growing increasingly valuable in every sense and books for children are the bedrock of the trade as a whole – we all need them to ensure the future of reading for pleasure. The quality of many books being published for children in 2017 is truly extraordinary and something we should celebrate, as well as making strides towards improving diversity and addressing the inequalities of access to books.

I also think review coverage is a challenge – for what is such a large part of the publishing market, children’s review space remains depressingly marginalised. Reviews have an advisory function that can be of real benefit to book-buyers and it would help everyone in the industry to have more space dedicated to them.

What would you like to see more and/or less of in children’s and YA publishing in 2018?

The whole range of publishing for children needs to widen as much as it can. And we need to remember our readers, whatever genre they happen to like. It doesn’t matter what publishing I would like to see thrive, as long as children are reading a book that encourages them to pick up another. I’d like everyone to love the Milly-Molly-Mandy series as much as I did when I was six, but that is entirely irrelevant!

Which talk or panel are you most looking forward to at the Children’s Conference?

Lauren Child in conversation with the Times’ arts editor, Alex O’Connell. Listening to Lauren talk about her work and ideas about childhood is always immersing. I’m also interested in hearing the insights of the panel on new routes to the customer. I don’t get many opportunities to focus for a whole day on the big, overarching ideas we are all wrestling with so I’m looking forward to the whole day immensely, to be frank.

Hilary Murray Hill will be delivering the morning keynote speech at The Bookseller Children's Conference 2017 on  "Wider than vision: how should we think about the readers of tomorrow?"

Dotti Irving and Kath Ludow, managing director of Four Colman Getty, and Kath Ludlow, managing director of Four Engage

 

Which children’s entertainment campaign do you think knocked it out of the park this year?

I always look to – and point marketing students to – the enduring rebirth of Lego. To be able to inspire such brand love and loyalty that you can attract children to paid exhibitions of inanimate Lego builds is no mean feat.

What is your favourite heritage children’s entertainment brand and why?

Paddington Bear, because he is the world’s favourite bear after all, and in honour of the wonderful Michael Bond! The new audio deal HarperCollins announced in April is a great example of a cross-media content partnership that helps bring heritage brands to a new audience. We’re also looking forward to the new film this autumn. The fact that this enduring tale is referenced in so many articles across the globe about welcoming refugees is testament to Bond’s incredible talent and perception.  

What do you think publishers should do to keep heritage children’s brands fresh?

Utilise anniversaries e.g. Winnie the Pooh’s 90th birthday last year; forge cross-media links and licensing partnerships e.g. there’s a new Dr Seuss Grinch film on the way; create new content to tap into publishing trends e.g. The Moomins Colouring Book; and most of all, get to know your audience and listen to what the fans want, which is what we are completely passionate about at Four and why we have developed our audience insights methodology.

What do you think are the major issues facing the children’s publishing industry at the moment?

There are two key issues that has made it harder to reach young readers: reduced space for children’s book reviews in national print media and fewer dedicated book reviewers, along with funding cuts for schools and libraries. Coinciding with this is the need for publishers to better engage with young people on social media. Another well-documented issue is the lack of diversity in the industry – it will be interesting to see the impact of initiatives like the Jhalak Prize, WriteNow and Penguin Random House’s Inclusivity Tracker.

What would you like to see more and/or less of in children’s and YA publishing in 2018?

Linked to the above, we’d like to see more books created by diverse authors and illustrators to ensure that all children see themselves reflected in stories. We’re also strong believers in visual literacy, so would also like to see a greater focus on illustrated fiction for older children and the promotion of comics and more graphic forms of literature in the classroom to engage reluctant readers.

Which talk or panel are you most looking forward to at the Children’s Conference?

It’s an obvious answer from a communications person obsessed with using technology to understand and reach customers with more relevant, compelling content, I know, but I can’t wait for the panel discussion on new routes to the customer.

Dotti Irving and Kath Ludlow will be giving a talk on “Identifying high-value audiences and influencers for smarter campaigns and launches” at The Bookseller Children’s Conference 2017.
 
Miranda McKearney OBE, founder, EmpathyLab

What do you think are the major issues facing the children’s publishing industry at the moment?

How to publish for an increasingly diverse UK, so that every child feels they belong to our society. This challenge has been rumbling around for so long, it feels like it’s time for some truly decisive steps. As libraries are in every kind of community, I’d like to see publishers tapping more into their networks and grassroots knowledge both for recruitment and finding writing talent.   

What would you like to see more and/or less of in children’s and YA publishing in 2018?

Linked to the above, I’d like to see far more diverse books (in the widest possible sense), especially for primary aged children. YA publishing is stronger here, but at EmpathyLab we’ve found a real dearth of great books at primary level. I’d like to see less pink books for girls! Surely it’s time to move away from gender stereotyping – I hope No More Boys or Girls will really up the ante on this.

Which talk or panel are you most looking forward to at the Children’s Conference?

Hilary Murray Hill on the readers of tomorrow, because this is the most important topic of all! I’ll be interested to see if she tackles the effect of digital on the reading brain. I’m also looking forward to Lantana Publishing’s talk because I really admire what they are doing and would like to hear more.

Miranda McKearney will be talking about “The Empathy Factor: how books can create better citizens” with Professor Robin Bannerjee at The Bookseller Children’s Conference 2017.
 
Lucy Powrie, book blogger and YouTuber

Which children’s campaign do you think knocked it out of the park this year?

I've loved following Stripe Books' campaign for A Change is Gonna Come. From the pre-order campaign, to their championing of new talent, it's lovely to see a smaller publisher shine. The entire marketing and publicity team does a great job of working not just offline, but online too and I think adapting for both audiences is crucial in today's publishing climate.

What do you think are the major issues facing the children’s publishing industry at the moment?

Within YA publishing, I am increasingly frustrated by publishers' refusal to engage with actual teenagers. There seems to be an unspoken agreement in publishing about who YA books are for, and judging by the events, publishing schedule and social media promotion: it's not anyone between the ages of 13 and 19. As a teenager myself, seeing the same campaign cycle over and over again feels very exclusionary: there are multiple events in London on weeknights, when teenagers with busy school schedules and tight budgets cannot make it; big releases during June when most 15 to 18-year-olds have exams; minimal YouTube and Instagram promotion, where most teenagers spend their time online. Something needs to change, and quickly.  

What would you like to see more and/or less of in children’s and YA publishing in 2018?

In terms of the industry itself, I'd like to see more publishers embracing YouTube as a marketing tool and working with existing YouTubers as business partners, not just seeing them as free labour. There is a real need to "go where the kids are", and not expect them to come to you. To reach the intended target audience, there can't be the expectation that teenagers will easily find publishers. Finding new books can be overwhelming and YouTube can help to bridge the gap between publishers and large, daunting bookshops.

In terms of books, I'm hoping that YA publishers will introduce more books like Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison's Freshers and Keris Stainton's Counting Stars, where the lives of older teenagers are highlighted. The cut-off point at the moment seems to be GCSE age or slightly older, but there's a wealth of stories to be told about older teenagers: from going to university, to apprenticeships, to working for the first time. I'd like all teenagers to feel represented in YA, and not have to feel that they don't fit into either YA or adult books.

Which talk or panel are you most looking forward to at the Children’s Conference?

I'm looking forward to the A Change is Gonna Come case study with Lauren Ace, Darren Chetty and Charlie Morris for the aforementioned reasons. I think the whole publishing industry can learn a lot from their campaign.

Lucy Powrie will be speaking on the “new routes to the customer” panel at The Bookseller Children’s Conference 2017.

Catherine Johnson, author

What do you think are the major issues facing the children’s publishing industry at the moment?

I think the major issues are the same as have been ever since I was first published (1993 - I know!) and those are the demands on young readers time. These demands have become more and more insistent, there’s not just TV but also interactive games to compete with. Publishers seem to be chasing a dwindling pool of new readers, which is why diversity and inclusivity needs to happen sooner rather than later.

What would you like to see more and/or less of in children’s and YA publishing in 2018?

Oh, I don't think it's down to me - it's about what young readers want and if publishers knew the answer, it would make all our lives a lot easier! I know publishers do take risks, but I'd like to see more initiatives like Stripes Publishing’s A Change is Gonna Come anthology.

Which talk or panel are you most looking forward to at the Children’s Conference?

I can't choose one! The panel with Kiran Millwood Hargrave and also the Moomins one and, of course, the Stripes one too.

Catherine Johnson will be talking about the Jhalak Prize at The Booskeller Children's Conference 2017.

Barry Cunningham, publisher and managing director, Chicken House Books

Which children’s entertainment campaign do you think knocked it out of the park this year?

The campaign for Chicken House’s own Beetle Queen. It shows how a campaign focusing on an unusual theme – in this case, the wonderful world of entomology – can work on a multitude of platforms, from "Blue Peter" to "Springwatch Unsprung".

What is your favourite heritage children’s entertainment brand and why?

It’s got to be the Beatrix Potter series. I worked on the first relaunch for Beatrix Potter after Penguin bought Frederick Warne, and I love the way the magic of the stories and art create a perfect introduction to the world of books for each generation. And of course, I think the creativity behind the Harry Potter brand is clever and innovative, and delivers a classic story to new fans.

What do you think publishers should do to keep heritage children’s brands fresh?

They should introduce new art and fresh packaging with bold story lines for new generations, while simultaneously keeping classic branding.

What do you think are the major issues facing the children’s publishing industry at the moment?

Simply, range in store and the lack of ‘discoverability’ of new talent as libraries continue to close and school funding is downgraded.

What would you like to see more and/or less of in children’s and YA publishing in 2018?

Fewer copy-cat series and more new formats for older readers!

Which talk or panel are you most looking forward to at the Children’s Conference?

I’m really looking forward to Dotti Irving and Kath Ludlow’s session on identifying high-value audiences and influencers.

Barry Cunningham will be presenting a case study with author Kiran Millwood Hargrave about her debut children’s  book The Girl of Ink & Stars at The Bookseller Children’s Conference 2017.

Anna Bassi, editor, The Week Junior

What is your favourite heritage children’s entertainment brand and why?

Predictably, Roald Dahl. The stories continue to feel fresh and the visual updates are slight enough to not lose the brand's original appeal.

What do you think publishers should do to keep heritage children’s brands fresh?

Treat them gently – don't overhaul them unnecessarily, and update sensitively.

What do you think are the major issues facing the children’s publishing industry at the moment?

The usual - the plethora of children's entertainment choices (TV, phones, devices, streaming etc) mean that books have plenty to compete with to get a child's time and attention.

Which talk or panel are you most looking forward to at the Children’s Conference?

I'm really looking forward to finding out what children want from Authorfy's Mel Taylor-Bessent.

Anna Bassi will be talking about "Publishing for kids in today's world" at The Bookseller Children's Conference 2017.

Nick Marsh, vice president of product, Wonderbly

Which children’s entertainment campaign do you think knocked it out of the park this year?

I’m super impressed with the work done by Timbuktu Labs in releasing Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2. They smashed the Kickstarter target the first time round and to come back and do it again is just incredible. Seeing this team go from a project to a movement so fast is really inspiring.

What is your favourite heritage children’s entertainment brand and why?

There are so many! If I have to pick one, in terms of brands that are still keeping things fresh, I love the work done by the Moomins team recently. They’ve so carefully navigated the wave of Scandi style over the past few years and somehow kept the link to the dark oddness of Tove Jansson’s original vision.

What do you think publishers should do to keep heritage children’s brands fresh?

I’m going to be boring and state the obvious - stay true to the creative idea, story, characters and themes at the heart of the original while finding ways to push into contemporary spaces and moments. Building on my last answer, the Moomins collaborating with Papier and Southbank Centre are great examples.

What do you think are the major issues facing the children’s publishing industry at the moment?

I’m new to the industry and I have to say I don’t see huge issues - mainly opportunities! We’ve managed to scale Wonderbly from a side project to a significant business in just a few years and that’s purely because of the demand for quality children’s books. I suppose the biggest issue for me is how to avoid squandering this new golden age of children’s publishing.

What would you like to see more and/or less of in children’s and YA publishing in 2018?

I’d like to see more daring ideas from the owners of the big heritage brands. There’s so much that can be done with these stories and characters. Let’s take more risks! I’d also love to see more publishers embracing the ‘product design’ mindset and getting customers and creatives more involved in figuring out the right stories to tell, together. Audience feedback always makes stories better; why not get more of it as early as possible?

Nick Marsh will be presenting “Wonderbly's immersive storytelling and heritage brands” at The Bookseller Children’s Conference 2017.