Kids, News

Looking Back: 25 Years of Children’s Publishing at Chronicle Books

25 years ago, Chronicle launched its first children’s book list. The list was small—7 books. Heck, the company was small—I think I was employee #20. But our belief that books were magical was strong. As was our belief that a dedication to striking design and quality production—hallmarks of Chronicle’s adult list—would lead us to create children’s books that also stood out on the shelves.

Our glasses logo didn’t yet exist, but I knew the moment I arrived in San Francisco from New York that I had landed someplace that really did “see things differently.” I also found that the company had grown so much (20 people!), it didn’t have room in its offices for me. So I was escorted down a hall to a little extra office it had rented until all of us could move to a bigger space. In it was a phone, a copy machine and a bookshelf. That was it. But it turns out that belief, dedication and enthusiasm trump office furniture at every turn.

This year the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (the preeminent trade show for, and celebration of, children’s books) launched a new initiative—The Bologna Prize for the Best Children’s Publishers of the Year—created to honor publishers who are at the forefront of innovation. The recipients were selected by publishers and cultural institutions worldwide. And Chronicle received the award for North America. In children’s book parlance, we feel a little bit like “The Little Publishing Company That Could.”

We’re also particularly proud of that award because the roots of our list lie with many of our fellow publishers across the world. Our first list was comprised of a handful of titles originally published outside the United States. However, in just a few short years, we were developing our own projects and launching the debut works of many other amazing authors and artists, and many of those books in turn have been published in languages around the globe.

Now there are too many books to count. But I thought I would list 25* that in their own ways have helped us become the list and the company that we are today. That company has grown as well. There are more than 20 people in our children’s book group alone and to a person they continue to be dedicated to putting magic, in all is myriad of publishing forms, into the hands of children. And perhaps some child out there who is at this very moment reading one of our books or playing with one of our kits will one day join our ranks and put his or her touch on what that we publish in the next 25 years. And that possibility is truly the very best anniversary gift a publisher could want.

*One of these books is an adult book, but by an artist who was at that time a children’s book illustrator. While it wasn’t part of the children’s list, it came in through the children’s group. And it definitely had an impact on the company. Can you spot it?

Victoria Rock
Founding Publisher, Chronicle Kids

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4 Comments

  • Arabella Grayson June 24, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Cheers to Chronicle Books for 25 years in the business and for receiving the Bologna Prize for Best Children's Publishers of the Year. A fan from the beginning, I love the Griffin & Sabine series and Woodleigh Hubbard's imaginatively wacky and humorous illustrations, especially her C is for Curious and 2 is for Dancing books. Hope to see more picture books featuring African American characters in Chronicle's upcoming lists.

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  • Rene June 26, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    The House that Crack Built by Clark Taylor and illustrated by Jan Thompson Dicks – published in 1992 but still a very powerful book no matter what your neighborhood looks like. We are all in the world together.

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  • writersideup June 30, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Congrats to all of you :) I see some of my favorite books pictured in your collage. So much to be proud of! I also heard Tamra Tuller had joined your ranks. I met her (briefly) at one of our NJ SCBWI conferences. She's very nice :) I hope she's doing well out there!

    Reply

  • Robink July 1, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    I just thought of another one that I love – Good News, Bad News by Jeff Mack! Love love love.

    Reply

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