Aria of the Sea
"Hard to imagine it being better written." -VOYA, October 2000
C. Elizabeth Davis
Title: Read, click, read
Many young people complain that history is nothing more than dates, times and places. But young skeptics, aged 8-12, will undoubtedly be thrilled with the connectivity between printed page and real world experience offered through two recent series: The Hourglass Adventures and Dear Mr. President. These Winslow Press books illustrate how well the Web enhances the reading experience. Each book is augmented by interactive activities and curriculum, games, hot links, book reviews, author and illustrator sites, while focusing on international events and U.S. history. It's a unique approach.
The Hourglass Adventures series, by Barbara Robertson, takes the reader on adventurous action-packed journeys back in time. The international settings of bygone eras introduce readers aged 8-10 to well-researched historic events, different cultures and lifestyles, producing a true sense of the past. The first two books transport the readers to Berlin in Rosemary Meets Rosemarie ($4.95, ISBN 1890817554) and to Paris in Rosemary in Paris ($4.95, ISBN 1890817562). Interactive Web prompts provide detailed information about a variety of subjects woven into the stories, like the Franco-Prussian War—in a totally teen, totally cool way.
Also kid-engaging is the Dear Mr. President series that brings history to life through fictitious correspondence between a president of the United States and a young person. Although the letters were not actually written, the content is based on meticulous research that gives voice to America's past through heartfelt exchange. The latest in the series, Abraham Lincoln: Letters from a Slave Girl ($8.95, ISBN 1890817600), journals in heart-wrenching prose the horror of slavery and a president's painful dilemma. Written by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Web prompts add depth, such as the causes of the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. Thomas Jefferson: Letters from a Philadelphia Bookworm ($8.95, ISBN 1890817309) and Theodore Roosevelt: Letters from a Young Coal Miner ($8.95, ISBN 1890817279), both by Jennifer Armstrong, are two other titles in this set that encourage interactive exploration for readers 9-12.
Both series are a marvel at integrating the printed word with Web resources, certain to entertain and inform a technology-savvy generation of young Americans. This fall, keep an eye open for additional and equally teen-absorbing titles.
Bibliography: BookPage 7/30/2001
WinslowHouse Press Release
Title: WinslowHouse Signals Rapid Expansion of its Publishing Business With the
Launch of READ&CLICK, the First Children's Book Program K-12 Ever
Connected to the Internet
WinslowHouse International, Inc., (WHI), with its two divisions, WinslowHouse and Read&Click(TM), creates a breakthrough product to revolutionize the publishing industry. Its patented technology uniquely connects the printed word and the Internet in an educational context. This is a first in the trade book publishing industry and a first in the educational marketplace.
By connecting the magic of the book with the wonder of the Web, Read&Click(TM) expands the theme of a book through the book's own home page in our virtual library at http://www.winslowpress.com. ``We have the opportunity to impact the educational and consumer marketplace with a truly interactive product, changing how people interact with the printed word,'' stated Diane F. Kessenich, CEO of Winslow House International. Ms. Kessenich added, ``This patent and others pending, can be used for any book, any magazine, any manual and for any age.''
Susan Zilber will now be heading up all licensing and business development for Read&Click(TM) Ms. Zilber was the Director of licensing with Disney and with Paramount Pictures. ``Susan has many years experience where she created and executed licensing programs. We are very pleased that she will be heading up licensing for Read&Click(TM),'' stated Ms. Kessenich.
Ms. Kessenich also announced that Deborah L. Benaim has come onboard as a strategic advisor to explore the company's financial alliances with Venture Capitalist and Investment banking firms. She brings many years of expertise with equity/debt financing and new business development. Ms. Benaim said: ``Diane Kessenich is a pioneer in the publishing world by developing this technology that will place books in children's hands and connect them to the Internet. She is truly a visionary who has built a very solid company with brand recognition and a loyal customer base.''
WinslowHouse International, Inc. with offices in New York and Florida, is uniquely positioned to build a global business that will capitalize on positive trends in publishing, education reform and life-long learning. An initial investment of $15 million was used by the company to develop this interactive product and create a strong and highly respected presence in the consumer, library and educational marketplace.
WinslowHouse International, Inc., New York
Susan Zilber, 212/254-2025
WinslowHouse International, Inc., Delray Beach
Deborah L. Benaim, 561/271-0998
Bibliography: Business Wire 7/18/2001
Title: 'Hourglass' Books for Kids Mix Time Travel, Web Surfing
Picture a storybook grandmother, the kind who invites a small granddaughter to spend the night, always with the promise of dress-up and tea parties.
She's a grandmother who takes her much loved grandchild on her lap and tells stories about the family's women, mothers and grandmothers of the past, so that they come alive, seem real and colorful.
Well, that's the kind of grandmother that a Greenville mom, Barbara Robertson, had when she was growing up on Long Island. Barbara called her "Mimi," though her name was really Rosemary Regina.
Now, Barbara has brought her memories of "Mimi" to life in "The Hourglass Series," published this month by Winslow Press.
Barbara wrote the books for girls 8 to 12 years old, girls like her own daughter, Ashley, 10. It so happens that Ashley bears a striking resemblance to the photograph of the main character, Rosemary Rita, on "The Hourglass Series" covers, and Ashley, like Rosemary Rita, also loves Skittles and lives here in Greenville.
But Rosemary Rita is most definitely a fictional girl, one who goes time-traveling through "The Hourglass Series" to foreign countries and through adventures with her grandmothers from the late 1880s to the middle 1900s.
With Mimi as instigator — and always in the amount of time that it takes the sands of an hourglass to run their course — Ashley sees Berlin, Paris, Spain and Green Turtle Cay and takes a voyage on the Mauretania.
But the past meets the high-tech present in "The Hourglass Series," by connecting the time-travel with an activity of young readers — the Internet.
Sprinkled through each book are Web links at the Winslow Press home page.
For instance, when Rosemary Rita travels to Berlin with great-great-great- grandmother Rosemarie, readers are invited to visit winslowpress.com to send an "e-card" to a friend or to decode riddles, to find out what time it is anywhere in the world or to learn more about "Mimi."
It's a combination that Barbara believes can enhance the reading experience, though a computer certainly isn't required to enjoy the books.
So, how did Barbara, a young mother with three children and an attorney husband, come to spend the last three years writing a children's series?
Of course, while she's been writing, Barbara has also been doing the normal "mother" things, chauffeuring her children to tennis lessons and horseback riding, to kindergarten and school. She's also an active volunteer with South Carolina Children's Theatre, Friends of the Greenville Zoo and the Developmental Council of the Children's Hospital of the Greenville Hospital System.
She's a graduate of the University of Richmond and earned her master's degree in education from Furman "one class at a time," she says, after her children were born.
The series came as a result of another writing project Barbara was co-authoring with a family friend. When that writer gave up the project, Barbara offered its publishers her own idea: "Wouldn't it be neat to go back and meet your grandmother when she was 10, or your great-grandmother or great-great-grandmother?"
Winslow Press liked the concept and asked Barbara to begin developing the first book.
Writing between 9 p.m. and midnight, after her children — besides Ashley, there's Will, 6, and Eileen, 3½ — were in bed, Barbara outlined and wrote, rewrote and revised.
Books one through four are complete and in stores. Five and six are in the works, and seven will come, possibly after a contest for readers to select the story line.
A national promotion will be introduced in June at a dinner at Book ExpoAmerica in Chicago, and Barbara will sign copies of "The Hourglass Series," at 11 a.m. June 9 at the Open Book.
Young readers who want to e-mail Barbara about any of the books can find her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bibliography: The Greenville News 4/29/2001
Title: Write a Letter and Make a Difference!
Winslow Press, Family PC magazine, and Barnes & Noble invite your children to write to the president of the United States.
Title: New Series on Presidents Debuts
While the country awaits the inauguration of a new President—with the seemingly endless Florida ballot recounts still a fresh memory—the folks at Winslow Press are preparing for the auspiciously timed debut of a new series. Due out next month—on President's Day—are the first two Dear Mr. President titles, which use the fictitious correspondence between a U.S. president and a young person of the day to spotlight crucial issues during that era in American history.
Dear Mr. President seems a fitting venture for the company, whose stated mission is to connect “the magic of the book with the wonder of the Web.” Found throughout each volume in the series are footnotes that are actually Web prompts, directing readers to the company's Web site. From here, youngsters can access further information about the issues and events chronicled in the books, as well as find links to games and activities. The publisher is also developing sites to provide teachers and parents with information to help children get the most out of the series.
“This series takes our mission as far as we've been able to take it at this point,” observes Lauren Wohl, v-p of marketing for Winslow. “The books let us connect technology and literature in such a way that each truly enhances the other.”
Dear Mr. President was the brainchild of Margery Cuyler, Winslow's editorial director. Cuyler has lined up a noteworthy roster of contributing authors, each of whom was given the opportunity to write about whichever chief executive most interested him or her. The inaugural releases, both written by Jennifer Armstrong, are Theodore Roosevelt: Letters from a Young Coal Miner, which reveals the plights of coal miners in the early 1900s; and Thomas Jefferson: Letters from a Philadelphia Bookworm, which details the Lewis and Clark expedition a century earlier. Due in April is Abraham Lincoln by Andrea D. Pinkney; and next fall will bring Franklin D. Roosevelt by Elizabeth Winthrop and John Quincy Adams by Steven Kroll. Slated for spring 2002 release are James Monroe by Mary Jane Auch and George Washington by James Cross Giblin. (And the company is hoping for a positive response to a letter just sent to Jimmy Carter, asking if he and and his daughter, Amy, would be interested in collaborating on a future title in the series.)
Spreading the Word
Winslow has several projects in the works to draw attention to Dear Mr. President. The publisher views the educational market as a major one for the series, and is working with Borders to stage teachers' nights in its stores to promote the series and distribute books, teacher guides, posters and other materials.
Wohl spoke with enthusiasm about a pilot classroom program she has established, in partnership with the magazine Time for Kids, which she hopes will become a model for others. Over a period of four months, the social studies curriculum for 610 fifth and eighth graders in District 25 in Queens in New York City will be based on Theodore Roosevelt and Time for Kids. The students will simultaneously learn about Roosevelt's era and current events, while taking advantage of the information accessible through Winslow's Web site. In addition, the students will write their own letters to the new resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, which will be published in Time for Kids as well as on the Winslow Web site.
The publisher has also joined forces with Family PC magazine to launch a campaign aimed at encouraging kids to write letters to the President. During the month of February, youngsters can submit their letters on paper or by e-mail (through the magazine's Web site) and the winning entries—selected randomly–will be published in Family PC. Prizes will include books and subscriptions to the magazines–and one lucky young contestant will win a trip to Washington, D.C., and a tour of the White House.
Steven Chudney, director of sales and marketing, reports strong advance sales for the series' launch titles, each of which will have a first printing of 25,000 copies, and he is obviously pleased with the nonstop media attention surrounding the Election That Wouldn't End. “We thought we were being quite clever launching the series on President's Day, right after an election. Little did we know what would happen,” he said. “Clearly, this has worked out very well for us.” Quite clever–and very lucky.
Bibliography: Publishers Weekly 1/08/2001
Title: Reading Between the Lines
In a day of high-speed graphics and information sound bites, the old-fashioned bedtime story is teetering on the edge of obsolescence. But that will never happen if Diane Kessenich has anything to do with it.
"Children today are most in danger of losing their creativity and love of reading," says the Gulfstream resident. "I was afraid we would lose a whole generation of readers if we didn't do something meaningful."
So she did. She founded The Foundation for Concepts in Education and its publishing arm, Winslow Press. The latter is based on an idea that has had the children's publishing industry going around in circles: effectively combining reading with Internet technology. Kessenich took a hard look at the industry and discovered that other publishing houses did not offer children the opportunity to delve deeper into their books' topics using the Internet.
Winslow's five titles debuted last year in collaboration with a $1 million Web site that offers title-specific interactive activities and links for further study. This method of integrating books with the Internet is so ground-breaking that it has a patent pending, says Kessenich. "We took a major risk," she admits, "but we got the attention of the people we're doing this for -- educators, librarians, parents, and, of course, children."
The concept has been so popular that Winslow Press is growing up fast. Kessenich divides her time between Winslow's offices in Delray Beach and Manhattan, and has plans to publish 20 new children's titles every year, starting in 2000.
"I didn't really want to be a publisher," says Kessenich, "and I hated the word 'cyberspace.' But I felt it was my duty. I knew I couldn't face
myself 10 years from now if I hadn't done this."
Bibliography: Palm Beach Illustrated 6/01/1999
Title: A Quilter Makes the Traditional Modern
When Adrienne Yorinks moved to North Salem from Manhattan about 10 years ago, her business was dog grooming. Known as the Galloping Groomer in the city, she specialized in older dogs, winning referrals from veterinarians for her tender and knowing care. Eventually, her business included grooming dogs from the New York Police Department's bomb squad as well as the pets of celebrities and members of high society.
"I've always explored whatever I was interested in," Ms. Yorinks said. "I used to make scarves for all the animals I groomed. Soon I realized I was more interested in the scarves than the grooming."
When she moved to Westchester, she joined the Northern Star Quilting Guild in Somers, an organization with about 300 members, where she learned the basics of the craft.
"Today I would call myself an artist who works with fabrics," she said. She works so well with them that when Lisa Holton, vice president and publisher of children's books at Buena Vista Publishers, a division of the Walt Disney Company, decided to create a children's book based on the inspiring words of Marian Wright Edelman, the founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund, she suggested illustrating the book with photographs of Ms. Yorinks's quilts. "I've always known Adrienne's work in quilt-making, and Ms. Edelman loved the idea," Ms. Holton said. "We all went into this together."
"Stand for Children" (Hyperion Books) was the result. Ms. Yorinks said, "I had to adapt my style for illustration and work small, which was a wonderful thing for me." Creating 24 illustrations for the book, she used dramatic photographs of children or historical figures like Harriet Tubman and Abraham Lincoln in some of the quilts through a photograph transfer method she compares to T-shirt transfers.
Judith Rovenger, youth services consultant for the Westchester Library System, said Ms. Yorinks took the traditional quilt form "to another level."
"There has been a renaissance in quilting in America," she said, "and she honors the traditional quilt form by making it modern."
At a December meeting of Westchester children's librarians at the Ardsley Public Library, where the miniature quilts that illustrated "Stand for Children" are displayed, Ms. Yorinks discussed her love of fabrics. She said fabrics are imbedded in people's earliest memories, from the time they become aware of their mother's clothing.
She also discussed the fabrics she used for her coming children's book, "The Alphabet Atlas," to be published by Winslow Press next May. Many of the multiple fabrics she uses in each quilt depict the animals, fruits and other symbols of the countries highlighted on her maps.
Her collaborator on the atlas is Arthur Yorinks, a children's book author whose other collaborators include artists like Maurice Sendak, William Steig and Mort Drucker. Mr. Yorinks, who met Adrienne about 20 years ago when she took a class he was teaching at the American Mime Theater in Manhattan, said his wife uses fabrics the way other artists use paint. He added: "I always found artists interesting. I never realized I'd be living with one."
Although many of her creations are miniatures, some are oversized. A quilt commissioned for the 150th anniversary of the City University of New York is 10 by 8 1/2 feet. Divided into nine panels, each has a flower to represent the blooming of students through education. Historical events, documents, and CUNY graduates like Gen. Colin L. Powell, Jerry Seinfeld, Ruby Dee, and Jonas Salk are depicted in photograph transfers. After touring all the campuses of the university, the quilt will be displayed permanently at Baruch College.
Another large quilt is a 93-inch square Ms. Yorinks calls "Kaleidoscope Dogs," in which every piece of fabric has pictures of dogs. Dogs still play a large part in Ms. Yorinks's life, with six of them, three red poodles and three border collies, in her household. And she illustrated a book for adults about the death of a dog, "The Last Will and Testament of an Extremely Distinguished Dog" by Eugene O'Neill, which is a short essay and has never previously been published by itself, Ms. Yorinks said. It will be published by Holt next fall.
She is program chairwoman of the Northern Star Quilters Guild, finding speakers throughout the country to lecture at meetings. "The program chairman provides inspiration and education," said Nancy Mirman of Somers, a past president of the organization.
Ms. Yorinks will be creating two new quilts to donate to a silent auction at the guild's yearly exhibition to be held May 1 and 2 at John F. Kennedy High School in Somers. Profits from the auction will benefit Gilda's Club, Westchester, a cancer-support community being planned for White Plains. The exhibition at the Ardsley Public Library continues through Thursday.
Bibliography: New York Times 12/27/1998
Title: E-Links Makes Books a Gift that Keeps Giving
If you're the aunt or uncle who always buys books as children's gifts, buy one from Winslow Press,...[and its] Web site will help bring your children's favorite characters and stories to life.
For each children's book Winslow Press publishes, there is an accompanying Web site (www.winslowpress.com) filled with games and links.
Bibliography: Family PC 12/01/1998
Title: Winslow Press Debut Has It All
"In every conversation, 'Bout the coolest situation, The entire population Wants the hottest information."
Those opening lines from one of Winslow Press' debut tiles, Hot-Cha-Cha!, certainly describe what it's like to start a children's publishing house in these information-laden times. While the World Wide Web has not made a parent's lap obsolete, it has made the role of picture books as just bedtime stories a bit old-fashioned. Value judgments aside, picture books are now marketed with Web sites, contests, costumed characters and license agreements that The Pokey Little Puppy could have never imagined. It is upon this shifting ground that Diane Kessenich, publisher of Winslow Press, has taken her first book-publishing steps.
"We have a chance right now to shape the way the Internet comes into our life. If we do it right we can have it in a much more unobtrusive way than television has come into our lives. I'm very excited about what our Web site is going to do for kids."
In October, Winslow will release its first list of five original hardcovers: The Keeper of Ugly Sounds,...the aforementioned Hot-Cha-Cha!, My Building, The Last Dinosaur Egg and Water Rat. At the same time the list debuted, so did the company's Web site, designed with agency.com, which worked with a budget rumored to be in the $1 million range. With its debut, Winslow becomes the first publisher to offer title-specific Internet activities and links to relevant Web sites for each of its five titles. Kessenich conducted an extensive study of several children's imprints of conglomerate publishers, and found that none offered Web site links giving readers the opportunity for further independent study. Several of these (Penguin Putnam, Harcourt Brace, Bantam Doubleday Dell, Golden Books and Broderbund) offered no title-specific Internet activities at all.
In contrast, click on www.winslowpress.com and you'll be greeted by Lucy the Librarian. Click on any of the book covers and you'll be guided to links that further explore the topic of the book, which the publisher assures are child-safe. For example, a link to Hot-Cha-Cha! is a Web site which has a digital rhyming dictionary -- just type in any word and a list of rhyming words appear.
Winslow Press is the publishing arm of a nonprofit foundation seeking to merge technology and learning. Kessenich said there are plans to publish adult titles as well, possibly as early as Spring 1999. Though children's publishers are still feeling their way around the Internet, and developing its use as a marketing tool, Kessenich predicted that offering title-specific Internet activities and links for all books looms on the publishing horizon.
"We took a risk for the industry," she said. "We're smaller and we've got a foundation, but I think everybody's been threatened by the Internet, and struggling with how to use it while still keeping the book out in front. I know some major houses are going to have a great deal of trouble connecting the book with the Internet, but it would be to their benefit to follow suit, because we broke the ice. And the response has been very, very favorable."
Kessenich said both school and public librarians have been especially interested in the list and Web site, since so many offer Internet access and can use the activities and links with their patrons.
Lest worries abound that a story-time cuddle will be made obsolete by the Internet and its marketing mysteries, fear not: Kessenich has seven grandchildren, all of whom served as product testers in the laboratory of their grandmother's lap.
Bibliography: ForeWord 10/10/1998
Title: Winslow Press: Books, Reading and the Internet
Margery Cuyler, formerly v-p of the children's publishing group and director of trade publishing at Golden Books, is leaving the financially troubled publisher to join the new book and Internet publishing firm Winslow Press. Cuyler has been named v-p, editor-in-chief of the Delray Beach, Fla. - based Winslow Press and will operate out of its new New York City offices. Cuyler told PW that she was excited about the "synergies between Winslow's publishing program and their Web site." . . . Before joining Golden, Cuyler worked for 21 years at Holiday House and at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers as an associate publisher.
Diane Kessenich, publisher of Winslow Press, told PW that Winslow, which launched its first list at last year's BEA (News, Aug. 17, 1998), "now has a solid team in place."
Bibliography: Publishers Weekly 08/17/1998