Ripley Publishing’s new “board books,” present oddities and freakish facts in a new way — to preschoolers.
Yes, kids, the world is becoming even more unbelievable for young readers. “Ripley’s Believe It or Not! ODDphabet” and “Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Wacky 1-2-3” rely on unusual animals to entertain babies and their parents.
Mommies and daddies grew up with and are fond of the Ripley brand, said Sabrina Sieck, lead researcher for the Orlando-based Ripley Entertainment, which established its publishing arm about a decade ago.
“They watched the [Ripley’s] TV show, whether is was with Jack Palance or Dean Cain,” Sieck said. “They want to share that with their children. That makes reading the book and teaching them their ABC’s or 123’s a lot more fun for the parent.”
The content is slightly edgier than the average board books. Instead of the basic “A is for apple,” the “ODDphabet” book goes with “A is for albino alligators.”
“We want the characters to look fun and exciting,” Sieck said. “Zebras have some cool facts, but they’re not so exciting, so we went with a zorse, which is a horse-zebra hybrid.”
Ripley editors who teamed up for the new products typically compile grown-up books that throw together 60-foot-long gingerbread houses, creatively pierced people, the World Custard Pie Championships and assorted natural wonders. Ripley already had a line for older kids, but publications for the youngest crowd come with new challenges such as rhyming schemes and keeping the facts age-appropriate.
But what animal merited the X slot?
“X was difficult, but we did an x-ray tetra, which is actually a see-through fish,” Sieck said.
The board books were illustrated by John Graziano, who also draws the daily “Believe It or Not” comic strip that has been in production for 99 years. Graziano works out of