HarperCollins Children’s Books will publish David Baddiel until 2019 under the terms of a new contract.
Ann-Janine Murtagh, executive publisher at HarperCollins Children’s books, signed world rights to three more books from Georgia Garrett at RCW. Jim Field will continue to illustrate the books, having worked on both of Baddiel’s previous titles.
The first book under the new deal, AniMalcolm, will be out in print, e-book and audiobook (read by Baddiel) on 29th September (h/b, £12.99). The story is about a boy called Malcolm who hates animals. On a school trip to a farm he meets a wise old goat who has the magical ability of sending Malcolm to sleep and when he wakes up, he has turned into an animal.
Baddiel told The Bookseller he wrote the story partly because he has “always loved pets and animals". He added: "In my books I always try and act out some kind of wish fulfillment and I wanted to play with the jeopardy and comedy that comes with wanting to be an animal.”
AniMalcolm will be Baddiel’s fourth book, including the World Book Day novella, and his titles have sold 478,714 copies for £2.19m through Nielsen BookScan.
He said initially he didn’t think he would write more than one book, but the success of The Parent Agency, which sold 104,250 copies through Nielsen, as well as his enjoyment of events, led to him writing more.
“What I love is story,” he said. “In my other life as a comedian it’s all about story and children’s books are a very pure, primal form of storytelling.”
He added: “At events I basically perform as an adult comedian but swear less. One shouldn’t patronise, or talk down to children, comically. Kids comedy is no longer a separate space and children have a much more adult level of humour. Also they don’t pretend. They either like a book and a joke or they don’t. They’re very direct.”
Globally, rights to Baddiel’s children’s books have sold in 21 international territories. Fox 2000 recently has also acquired the film rights to The Parent Agency in a “major” deal.