“Fast-Fun-Reads” is the tagline for QUIX, a new chapter book line from Aladdin, which debuts today with four titles. Dedicated to helping emergent and reluctant readers become independent ones, the books are designed to make the experience of reading less overwhelming and off-putting, and to facilitate kids’ transition from ready-to-reads to longer chapter books.
Familiar author and illustrators headline QUIX’s launch list, which includes two original novels and a pair of re-formatted, previously published titles. The former are Stephanie Calmenson’s Our Principal Is a Frog!, illustrated by Aaron Blecha, in which a magician inadvertently turns a school principal into a slimy, leap-frogging amphibian; and Royal Sweets: A Royal Rescue by Helen Perelman, illus. by Olivia Chin Mueller, about a princess’s adventures at the Royal Fairy Academy. Rounding out the list are new editions of books in Robert Quackenbush’s Miss Mallard Mystery series starring this intrepid “duck-tective”: Texas Trail to Calamity and Dig to Disaster.
Tailored to emerging readers, QUIX books feature full-page and spot black-and-white line art, large type fonts, and a generous amount of white space on each page. Additionally, they have relatively short lengths of 64 to 80 pages, explained Aladdin executive editor Karen Nagel, who spearheads the line. “At a time when chapter books have grown in length, stories in the QUIX format can give readers who are still learning or perhaps struggling a sense of accomplishment from chapter to chapter, thus, the reading feels ‘quick,’ ” Nagel said, riffing on the line’s name. “And, since QUIX books have the same digest-size trim as other Aladdin chapter book series, readers can gain confidence that they are reading on par with their peers.”
Other features of QUIX books intended to enhance readers’ comprehension and retention are glossaries of vocabulary words and characters, which appear at stories’ end. Additionally, Nagel explained, “In each book, the first mention of a character and first use of a vocabulary word appear in bold font, to help kids navigate the stories on their own, and make the reading process more reader-friendly.”
Nagel estimated that QUIX will release 12 books annually, four each publishing season, and that lists will balance original and backlist titles, including additional books by Quackenbush. Editorially, the line will “cast a wide net,” she noted, appealing to both boy and girl readers and encompassing mysteries, fantasy, contemporary fairy tale twists, school stories, and humor—the last, she added, “to make the stories all the more easily digestible.”
Emphasizing that QUIX involves a close collaboration between Aladdin’s editorial and design teams, Nagel remarked that she has a strong personal connection to the line, whose seeds were planted years ago, when her own son (now 26) struggled with reading independently. Since she had long envisioned a line of books that might have helped sparked his interest in reading, she quipped, “I guess I can say that QUIX had a long gestation period—think cicadas. But better late than never!”