Hachette Children’s Group has acquired two magical middle-grade titles from writer and actor Jack Ryder. The books are described as perfect for fans of Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five series, with the first in the deal telling "a heartfelt adventure tale of a secret summer gang".
Jack’s Secret Summer is Ryder's first book, as well as his début children's novel. Taking readers on a "spellbinding journey", featuring an old abandoned house at the top of a hill, a strange girl who lives there and a world of magical secrets, it publishes under the Hodder Children’s Books imprint in May 2020, with a follow-up coming in May 2021.
Anne McNeil, senior publisher at Hachette Children’s Group, acquired world rights from Sam Day at InterTalent Rights Group.
"Jack Ryder is a natural storyteller," said McNeil. "His début children’s novel is charming and accessible, with an easy writing style that will appeal to a wide audience. He combines brilliant characterisation with sparkling humour and magic—creating the perfect melting pot for commercial fiction. His story comes from the heart and I can’t wait for children to get their hands on it."
Ryder said: "Storytelling is something I have always been incredibly passionate about. Writing Jack’s Secret Summer and working with the team at Hachette Children’s Group has been a unique and wonderful experience. I hope that children will love the story and feel inspired by it."
Ryder, who played Jamie Mitchell in "EastEnders" for five years from the age of 16, has also performed in plays by Alan Bennett, Tim Firth and David Hare, before going on to direct "Calendar Girls", "The Full Monty" and the West End production of "The Band Musical". He played Evan Crowhurst in "Holby City" in 2019, and in January 2020 he is directing a production of Bennet's The History Boys.
Jack’s Secret Summer will publish in paperback on 28th May 2020 (Hodder Children’s Books, £6.99).