New Island Featuring Big Nate, Popular Comic, Debuts - FamilyEducation

New Island Featuring Big Nate, Popular Comic, Debuts

Digital and Print Publishing Worlds Combine to Engage Kids in Safe Online Environment for Fun and Learning

BOSTON and NEW YORK - March 10, 2009 -Two top publishers - one print and one digital - have joined forces to create Big Nate Island, a new online quest that will excite kids all over the world. Family Education Network, the publisher of Funbrain.com and Poptropica, and United Media, the syndicator of Big Nate, recently launched the island on the Web's fastest growing virtual world dedicated solely to publishing for kids.

In the week following its launch, Big Nate Island was visited by more than 2.2 million different kids, each of whom spent an average of 23 minutes each time they logged on. On its first day alone, the new interactive quest was explored by nearly one million users.

"The synergy created by combining one of the most popular comic strips and the fastest growing virtual world for kids resulted in an explosion of activity on Poptropica," said Jess M. Brallier, publisher, Family Education Network, developer of Poptropica. "Today's kids make a seamless connection between print and digital, and Big Nate Island demonstrates how easily they move between those environments."

The Big Nate comic strip was launched in January 1991 and is published in more than 200 widely read newspapers around the country, including "The Washington Post." Created by cartoonist Lincoln Peirce, Big Nate is a wisecracking kid who holds the all-time record for detentions at his school. On Big Nate Island, kids will embark on a mission to find a long-lost time capsule, which, if found, will save the school from demolition. But the only way they can complete their quest is with help from Nate and his friends.

Big Nate has much in common with middle school student Greg Heffley of the bestselling, and soon-to-be movie, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series, which was first introduced on Funbrain.com.

"Lincoln Peirce is one of my cartooning heroes, and Big Nate ranks as a comics classic. Year in and year out, Big Nate is among the best comics on the funny page," said Jeff Kinney, author of "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" and creator of Poptropica.

"Big Nate Island gives comics fans a great new opportunity to interact with a character they've come to love in print," said Lisa Klem Wilson, senior vice president and general manager of United Media's syndication division. "And, it's a very exciting way to introduce Big Nate to a whole new audience of kids on the Web."

Launched less than two years ago, Poptropica now features eight interactive islands and is visited by more than 13 million kids each month. The members of this virtual world for kids come from more than 70 different countries and have their Web browsers set to more than 90 different languages, ranging from Spanish and Sanskrit to Vietnamese and Croatian.

Upon arrival at Poptropica, kids are asked to select their age, a user name and password. They then create an avatar that will explore ten online virtual islands for kids. They can choose from numerous characters, hairstyles and colors, eyes, lips and clothing to create their own unique character. Using scripted chat, young Internet users on Poptropica safely and easily interact with others online, never sharing any personal or identifying information.

About United Media

United Feature Syndicate and Newspaper Enterprise Association are divisions of United Media, the worldwide syndication and licensing company that focuses on building brand equity around a wide range of creative content including Peanuts, Dilbert, Pearls Before Swine, Get Fuzzy, Cokie and Steven Roberts, Nat Hentoff, Precious Moments, Fancy Nancy and Raggedy Ann and Andy. United Media (www.comics.com) is a wholly owned subsidiary of The E.W. Scripps Company.

About Poptropica (Poptropica.com)

Developed by Family Education Network, the makers of Funbrain, Poptropica is a virtual world where kids can travel, play games, collect objects and compete with other players in head-to-head competition. Players can also safely interact and communicate with other inhabitants of Poptropica. There are always new areas to explore in this ever-expanding world, and players can read digital books and comics and watch movies along the way.

Family Education Network is part of Pearson, the world's largest integrated education company. Pearson's other primary operations include the Financial Times Group and the Penguin Group.