Leicester-based indie children’s publisher Sweet Cherry Publishing has bought UK rights to the bestselling Italian series Geronimo Stilton.
The series, which comprises more than 250 titles by Italian author Elisabetta Dami, follows the adventures of mouse and journalist Geronimo Stilton. It regularly makes its way onto the bestseller charts in Italy and has been translated into 48 languages and adapted into a variety of media across international markets. It is relatively unknown in the UK, despite some books in the series being published in the UK by Puffin in 2004.
Sweet Cherry will release 10 titles previously published in September alongside a new adventure, and will subsequently publish nine further titles in the series that will be new to UK readers.
Daniel Faulkner, creative marketing executive at Sweet Cherry, told The Bookseller: “We were aware of the success the brand has enjoyed overseas, and this is something we really wanted to bring to a UK audience.” He added: “We loved the humour of the books and the fact that there are so many titles we can bring to the UK market. It’s a very versatile brand. We also especially liked that each book has an educational slant to it, as we work quite closely with this market.”
Faulkner thinks the series’ international success is down to the fact that Stilton is “such a strong character”. He added: “The series has done best in territories that have used Geronimo’s appeal as a way to capture the attention of his audience. Geronimo is credited as the author of the books and every company that publishes the series has a Geronimo costume, which means that he participates in a lot of author events.”
According to Faulkner, the timing is right for Stilton to resonate with a UK audience. The first two seasons of a TV adaptation of the books have been available in the UK through Amazon Prime since mid-2016. “Over the past year, the series has become better known in the UK thanks to the show and I think there are a lot of opportunities to bring the brand to various platforms. We are confident that this audience can only grow.”
He also highlighted Sweet Cherry’s “very strong link with schools”, saying: “I think this is an area where Geronimo has a particular appeal. The books are perfect for reluctant readers with their interactive, inventive typography and slapstick sense of humour, which is something we hope teachers will love.”
Faulkner said it was “very hard” to speculate on why the series did not live up to the success it has enjoyed in other markets when it was first published in the UK. He said: “As a small company, we have the luxury of being able to give the series our undivided attention and throw our collective effort into making sure it reaches its potential. For example, we’ve spent a lot of time making sure that the language used in the books is tailored to a British audience.
“We know Geronimo Stilton has the potential to become a household name. We hope we can give the series a chance to thrive in the UK market.”