Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler are returning to the Tales From Acorn Wood preschool series with four new lift-the-flap instalments for Macmillan Children’s Books.
The books, featuring new lead characters and published in 2021 and 2022, are the pair’s first new stories on the Macmillan Children’s list since 2005's Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book.
Publishing director Hannah Ray acquired world and audio rights from Caroline Sheldon at the Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency for Donaldson, and direct from Scheffler.
Cat’s Cookbook will publish in May 2021, with Squirrel’s Snowman following in October 2021, Mole’s Spectacles in February 2022, and Badger’s Band in May 2022.
Donaldson said: "I've always had a soft spot for the four Acorn Wood flap books. I remember when I was writing them I became so obsessed with flaps that I couldn't see anything else—it was all oven doors, cupboards, picnic baskets and loo seats (though I didn't actually include one of those in any of the books).
"I love Axel's pictures of Fox, Bear, Rabbit and Pig, who all wear clothes, unlike the characters in The Gruffalo (Axel was insistent on that!). My grandchildren all really like Acorn Wood too, and I think perhaps it was reading the books to them that gave me the idea of creating a second set. This time the protagonists are Squirrel, Mole, Cat and Badger, but the original characters do put in cameo appearances. I can't wait for Axel to get started and to see what he comes up with."
The existing MCB-published series, which MCB says has sold nearly five million copies worldwide, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. This month, the publisher is reissuing original titles Fox’s Socks, Postman Bear, Hide-and-Seek Pig and Rabbit’s Nap to mark the milestone.
Scheffler said: "After 20 years I'm so happy to be returning to the charming world of Acorn Wood with these new characters and stories. Working with Julia’s text allows for me to add another dimension to the stories with my illustrations, and with these being lift-the-flap books they’re perfect for hiding details which I really enjoy. Keep your eyes peeled for some familiar faces you might already know!"
Barton, publisher at MCB, added: "We couldn’t be more excited to have this opportunity to publish brand new Acorn Wood titles from Julia and Axel. We are privileged to be their publisher and to be able to work with them to introduce their warm stories to young children and families around the world. After 20 years, Acorn Wood is loved more than ever before and now we have new characters and adventures to take to our hearts."