Egmont UK is launching a new cross-platform community for Jelly Pie, its humour list for children aged five to nine.
Jelly Pie Central (www.jellypiecentral.co.uk) will promote all the titles on the list, which include Jim Smith’s Barry Loser series and the Mr Gum books by Andy Stanton.
Developed with company Complete Control to work across tablets and smartphones as well as PCs, Jelly Pie Central offers readers a jelly-themed world with characters, games and avatars for children to choose, and opportunities for them to collect points for prizes and submit their own artwork and jokes. The site will also feature extra content from authors on the Jelly Pie list. A YouTube channel features animations and author interviews.
Egmont Press fiction editorial director Ali Dougal said: “Comedy is a growth area in kids’ fiction and Jelly Pie Central is a fully immersible world that allows us to build a community. We all know that the market is incredibly tough, and this allows us to engage directly with readers and promote across the Jelly Pie list.”
The characters, voices and storylines on the site were all created with kids’ feedback. Digital publisher Stephanie Gauld said: “We started with consumer insight and tested ideas all the way—children love it. Humour is so important for children. We wanted to give them jokes
Visual humour and slapstick humour proved the most popular with young readers, she added. “‘You’ve Been Framed’ is their favourite TV show, so they love people falling over, and characters like Mr HodgePodge, with his crossed eyes and crooked finger, so you can never tell where he’s pointing. Children also say it is other children who make them laugh, so the author interviews by Jelly Pie characters have the voices of children—they are the Jelly Pie roving reporters.”
Agents and authors have responded well to the inclusion of their titles, Dougal and Gauld said. “Authors have asked, ‘What content can I create for you, can my character write a blog?’, and so on. They are excited by these ideas,” said Gauld. Dougal said it was important that authors’ books were “interpreted correctly” on the site, and added that Jelly Pie Central would help attract new authors to the list. “It’s something we can offer,” she said.
Egmont has an initial target of 5,000 members, with a marketing investment that is “good, not excessive”, according to Gauld. The publisher plans to track how children are using content and then build on what they enjoy, and employ a second round of marketing. A “site takeover” in August will feature Barry Loser and Marianne Levy’s Ellie May character, to coincide with release of the latest title for each.