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Lauren Child's latest series to HC
22.03.09 | Caroline Horn
Lauren Child, author of the Charlie & Lola books, is joining HarperCollins in what is rumoured to be a seven-figure deal.
HC has bought world rights to a six-book children's fiction series and is promising one of its biggest-ever marketing campaigns for the launch of the first title in 2010.
The series will be based on undercover girl agent Ruby Redfort, who is a character in Clarice Bean's favourite books by the fictional Patricia F Maplin Stacey. Sales of Child's Clarice Bean titles (Orchard), which include three novels and three picture books, have reached nearly 500,000 copies in the UK.
The deal was concluded by Ann-Janine Murtagh, HC's fiction and picture book publisher, and Caroline Walsh at David Higham Associates.
Child said the move was to remain with Murtagh, who worked previously for Orchard. "Ann-Janine edited the original Clarice Bean books and we developed a good working relationship," she said. "HC was very keen on the new series and wants to turn it into something very exciting and fun."
The first book will explain how Ruby Redfort becomes an agent, said Child. She describes the heroine of the series as a ‘young Jodie Foster character'. "She is quite a mouthy girl, a bit of a tomboy, and she's funny." Child added, "The books are set in ‘no time' with a retro ‘70s feel—so there are no mobile phones—and there's a lot of action and good detective work."
Child plans to publish further titles with her existing publishers, Orchard and Puffin. She said: "I am concentrating on the original Charlie & Lola books with Orchard because there are lots of TV tie-in stories that have overshadowed the original books, so I want my new stories to establish my own characters and do more with them." The BBC has shown a 78-part animated series of Charlie & Lola.
Puffin publishes Child's one-off picture books, with Who Wants to be a Poodle? I Don't due in September.