Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group has launched a new imprint led by three former DK employees, focusing on gift non-fiction titles that make topics, including medicine and archaeology, accessible for children.
Neon Squid will be led by Joanne Clark, Fiona Macdonald, and Sam Priddy, who will serve as co-publishers. All three joined MCPG in mid-2020 from DK Publishing, where they worked together for almost a decade.
The imprint will publish titles in the US and UK simultaneously, with the first list launching in winter 2022. Neon Squid is based in London, and all co-publishers report to Sally Poulson, global operations director at Priddy Books. The line-up includes Tales of Ancient Worlds, The Book of Sisters, a collection of biographies of notable sisters throughout history, and Animal Sidekicks, an illustrated introduction to the concept of symbiosis, featuring pairs of animal friends.
“I could not be more thrilled to be working with such an innovative and dynamic team,” Poulson said. “They bring a fresh and creative approach to publishing and I look forward to sharing their vision with the world.”
Clark was most recently senior commissioning designer at DK. Her repertoire included The Bacteria Book, Explorers and Greek Myths. On Neon Squid’s initial list she has commissioned artist Ginnie Hsu to bring to life Dr Christle Nwora’s STEM non-fiction story The Hospital, and a team of illustrators from around the world to profile the women featured in The Book of Sisters.
Commenting on her work, she said: “Kids are fiercely discerning, and we know how tough it is to capture their attention in a world of digital distractions. Each child is different, so we create books that appeal to all sorts of kids, from fact fans and visual learners to those who like to curl up with a good story. It doesn’t matter how you hook kids in – whether it’s intriguing topics, humor, or amazing illustrations – what matters is that their curiosity is piqued.”
Macdonald helped establish DK's list of programming books for children with Computer Coding for Kids and oversaw photoshoots around the world for Children Just Like Me. She secured artist Chaaya Prabhat to illustrate Bugs and Big Cats in Neon Squid’s A Day in the Life animal series, as well as illustrator Dragan Kordić.
“We’re really excited to have teamed up with Macmillan to create gift reference books that reflect our belief that no topic is too tricky for kids,” she said. “We want to spark an interest in things they don’t yet know they’re interested in – from groundbreaking scientific discoveries to new historical perspectives – and be the source of fascinations that last a lifetime.”
Priddy was most recently acquisitions editor at DK, and his first job in publishing was working in the children's bookshop Tales on Moon Lane, at 14. His book How to be a Scientist was a number one bestseller, and his titles have featured on "The Late Late Show with James Corden". At Neon Squid he has brought in archeology YouTuber Stefan Milosavljevich, podcasting sisters Olivia Meikle and Katie Nelson, and insect expert Dr Jessica L Ware.
“We are thrilled about this new chapter together,” Priddy said. “We spent most of the last decade working together on our shared passion for making non-fiction accessible to kids and we’re really enjoying working with Macmillan to further these shared goals in even more new and exciting ways.”
Commenting on the team behind the new imprint, Jen Besser, president and publisher of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, said: “Jo, Fi, and Sam create fun, innovative, and informative books that are perfectly positioned to capitalise on the continuing growth of non-fiction books in the marketplace. I am so happy that they are part of the Macmillan team.”