Jacqueline Wilson has reimagined E Nesbit's classic The Railway Children as a “thrilling modern adventure", to be published by Puffin.
Kelly Hurst, editorial director, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Caroline Walsh at David Higham Associates. The Primrose Railway Children will publish on 16th September 2021, with cover and inside illustrations by Rachael Dean
Wilson refers to Edith Nesbit as her all-time favourite classic children's author and, in 2012, wrote Four Children and It (Puffin), inspired by Nesbit’s novel Five Children and It. The book was adapted and released in 2020 by Sky Cinema as "Four Kids & It", starring Russell Brand with the voice of Michael Caine as the Psammead.
Wilson said: “I’ve always loved E Nesbit’s wonderful classic The Railway Children but I’ve also felt she wasn’t quite fair to the youngest child Phyllis. All she can say about her is that ‘she meant extremely well.’ I’ve reimagined the story from the youngest child’s point of view. The Nesbit book is very much a fairy story where every problem is wondrously overcome by heroic Mother and an old gentleman friend. In my modern story there are no easy solutions — but the children still have exciting adventures and I promise there’s a happy ending. Rachael Dean’s beautiful illustrations add an extra magical touch to the story.”
Dean added: “I am extremely honoured to have been given the opportunity to work with one of the best writers this country has ever produced. As a young girl I would religiously read Jacqueline’s books, so to be able to illustrate this book for her now is truly surreal! I feel very grateful and excited about what lies ahead.”
The Primrose Railway Children centres around Phoebe who loves making up stories – just like her wonderful, imaginative dad. When he mysteriously disappears, Phoebe, her siblings, Perry and Becks, and their mum must leave everything behind and move to a small cottage in the middle of nowhere. The blurb continues: “Struggling to settle and missing her dad terribly, Phoebe’s only distraction is her guinea pig Daisy — until the family discover the thrilling steam trains at the railway station and suddenly, every day is filled with adventure. But Phoebe still can’t help wondering what her mum is hiding – and when she will see her dad again…”
Wilson's books have sold more than 40 million copies in the UK, according to Puffin, and they have been translated into 34 different languages. Through Nielsen BookScan, she has sold 18.3 million print books in the UK for £99.3m, since 1998, excluding lockdown figures. Four Children and It has sold 94,330 copies in hardback and nearly 69,000 in paperback via Nielsen BookScan's UK TCM.
Hurst said: “This is an exciting new twist on The Railway Children, the most iconic of E Nesbit’s stories. Jacqueline has already written two incredibly successful retellings, Katy and Four Children and It, and we are thrilled to add another title to this collection. In The Primrose Railway Children Jacqueline combines her distinctive characters and much-loved style with a modern story that readers of the original will love. We are so pleased to be pairing Jacqueline with the hugely talented illustrator Rachael Dean.”
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