News & Media

Introducing Astra Books for Young Readers


Astra Young Readers • Calkins Creek • Hippo Park • Kane Press • mineditionUS • Wordsong Plus Exclusive Audiobook Deal with RBMedia

Today Astra Publishing House announces the formation of its children’s book division, Astra Books for Young Readers (ABFYR), a division of Astra Publishing House. According to Astra Publishing House COO  Ben Schrank, ABFYR includes one new imprint, Astra Young Readers (AYR); US history-focused Calkins Creek; Hippo Park, the newly named imprint from Jill Davis, announced first here; best-selling series publisher Kane Press, which announces the hiring of Harold Underdown as executive editor; international picture-book publisher mineditionUS; and Wordsong, the only US children’s imprint devoted to poetry. “Astra Publishing House now has six very special children’s book imprints  that cover books for all ages and children’s interests, from board books for babies and toddlers and picture books to nonfiction and history, poetry, middle-grade, and young adult books,” says Schrank, “and so we felt it was time to identify and celebrate them with a new children’s book division: Astra Books for Young Readers.”  

Astra Books for Young Readers is made up of: 

Astra Young Readers Logo

Astra Young Readers, committed to creating award-winning, high-quality fiction and nonfiction for kids of all ages.  Rebecca Davis, editorial director, says, “We emphasize exceptional writing and research, innovative approaches to  storytelling, and books that inspire compassion, open-mindedness, and curiosity in our complex world. In addition to new acquisitions, we’ll be transitioning the Boyds Mills Press backlist, distinguished by excellent literary and science books for children, to Astra Young Readers, making it our broadest imprint. With Astra Young Readers, we’re determined to create new classics and invest in a backlist that’s robust and has terrific books for kids and classrooms.”  Upcoming highlights include Grandma’s Farm, the sequel to the highly praised intergenerational and nostalgic picture book, Grandpa’s Tractor by Michael Garland; Fire Chief Fran, a wonderful read-aloud about a female fire chief and her crew, by Linda Ashman and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter; and, in spring 2023, From Mother Africa with Love by the award-winning creative duo of author Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrator E. B. Lewis. 

Leonard Marcus continues as editor-at-large, now for ABFYR, and will acquire books both for AYR and mineditionUS.

Calkins Creek Logo

Calkins Creek introduces children to the many people, places, and events that shaped our country’s history with award-winning nonfiction and historical fiction picture books, chapter books, and novels that combine original and extensive research with creative, energetic writing. “Our aim is to dust off the cobwebs of history and make it vibrant and relevant,” says Carolyn Yoder, creator of the imprint and newly promoted to the role of editorial director. Highlights include the just-published Without Separation: Prejudice, Segregation, and the Case of Roberto Alvarez by acclaimed author  Larry Dane Brimner and award-winning illustrator Maya Gonzalez; Born Hungry: Julia Child Becomes “the French Chef” and Blast Off!: How Mary Sherman Fueled America into Space in spring 2022; and books on singer-songwriter Dolly  Parton and the latest in Gail Jarrow’s Medical Fiascoes series on hookworm in fall 2022. 

Hippo Park

Hippo Park, like its namesake playground in New York City, aspires to create space for children to be free to explore,  connect with their imaginations, and, most of all, to feel joy. Focusing on highly illustrated books for the under-twelve set, the new imprint “will publish stories that reflect the unpredictable, often silly, and almost always befuddling world in which children live,” says Editorial Director, Jill Davis. “We’ll publish the occasional big feelings book, too.” Amelia Mack,  who came from Chronicle Books, is the art director for two imprints, mineditionUS and Hippo Park, which launches in fall  2022 with four picture books and a board book: Come On in: There’s a Party in this Book!, created with Sabine Timm’s photography and rhyming text by Jamie Michalak; Tiny Spoon vs. Little Fork, pairing Constance Lombardo’s comedic writing with comics illustration superduo Dan & Jason; How to Draw a Happy Cat, a how-to parody by humorist Ethan T.  Berlin with madcap drawings by Jimbo Matison; A Bear, a Bee, and a Honey Tree by Daniel Bernstrom and Brandon  James Scott, which brings bigger-than-life characters to a playful rhyming story; and a board book by Rilla Alexander featuring Herbert, the character she created for Hippo Park’s logo, set in the real Hippo Park. 

Kane Press, with titles that have won multiple Teachers’ Choice Awards, is the publisher of illustrated STEAM and literacy titles that kids love as much as educators and parents do. “Our books translate what kids learn in the classroom to their real lives and give them a springboard of knowledge from which to leap into the world,” says Publisher Juliana Lauletta (Lauletta is also publisher of the Calkins Creek and Wordsong imprints). Kane Press is known for its popular Milo & Jazz  Mysteries chapter-book series and its evergreen Math Matters series, which has sold 14 million copies worldwide; the imprint recently launched EUREKA! The Biography of an Idea, a multicultural STEAM series that cleverly tells the life stories of inventions from all over the world. Announced first here, Harold Underdown, who has previously worked at McGraw-Hill and Charlesbridge, has been hired as the executive editor of Kane Press and will acquire and develop new series for the imprint. 

mineditionUS, the recently created US program of one of the world’s most prestigious picture-book publishers, “is dedicated to creating emotionally resonant, artistically sophisticated picture and board books that bring world-class illustration to books for every child, building bridges between nations and cultures,” says Maria Russo, editorial director. Highlights include the just-published, four-star reviewed The Longest Storm by acclaimed author-artist Dan Yaccarino; as well as Pangolina, by legendary conservationist Jane Goodall. Look forward to Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers, inspired by the Nobel Peace Prize-nominee Loujain AlHathloul and illustrated by New York Times best-selling artist Rebecca Green;  and A Pair of Shoes by mega-award winners Robie H. Harris and R. Gregory Christie.

Wordsong Poetry

Wordsong, the only US-based children’s imprint dedicated entirely to poetry. Editorial Director Rebecca Davis explains that “Wordsong titles capture the vibrant, unexpected, and emotional connections between text and young readers.” Highlights: Garvey in the Dark, a novel in verse by multi-award-winning author/poet Nikki Grimes featuring the main character in her beloved novel Garvey’s Choice; and Poem In Your Pocket Day celebration If This Bird Had Pockets by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater. 

“From Kane Press to Hippo Park, this has been an incredible journey of bringing talented editors and adding new imprints every year for the past five years. The birth of Astra Books for Young Readers feels like a big party celebrating our distinguished imprints and our growing list of 1,000+ award-winning and well-reviewed children’s books,” says Leying Jiang,  president and chief financial officer, Astra Publishing House. “We believe this new platform will allow our team to further  leverage resources to build a stronger Astra brand, to attract the best writers and artists from all over the world, and to  inspire and engage young readers.” 

COO Schrank shares additional news: ABFYR has entered into a multi-year exclusive audiobook agreement with RBmedia,  the world’s largest audiobook producer and distributor. Through this agreement, Recorded Books, the company’s flagship audio brand, will create audio editions of children’s books across all of ABFYR’s imprints. “We’re thrilled to partner with  ABFYR to bring their titles to kids and teens in the audio format—in the home, car, classroom, and everywhere people listen to books,” says Andrea Wollitz, director of Children’s Publishing for RBmedia. 


Astra Publishing includes Astra House, dedicated to publishing the best adult nonfiction and fiction writers from the US  as well as from around the world; the newly formed Astra Books for Young Readers featuring six children’s book imprints;  and Astra Magazine, a literary magazine led by Editor-in-Chief Nadja Spiegelman, launching in spring 2022. For more information, visit 

Astra Books for Young Readers and all Astra Publishing House titles are distributed by Penguin Random House. 


President and Chief Financial Officer, Astra Publishing House, Leying Jiang 

Chief Operating Officer, Astra Publishing House, and Publisher, Astra House, Ben Schrank 

Publisher, Kane Press, WordSong, and Calkins Creek, Juliana Lauletta 

Editorial Director, Astra Young Readers and Wordsong, Rebecca Davis

Editorial Director, Calkins Creek, Carolyn Yoder 

Editorial Director, Hippo Park, Jill Davis 

Editorial Director, mineditionUS, Maria Russo 

Editor-at-Large, Astra Books for Young Readers, Leonard Marcus 



Deborah Sloan 978.884.4758