Marcus Rashford Book Club kicks off with Puri and 50,000 free books

Marcus Rashford Book Club kicks off with Puri and 50,000 free books

The Marcus Rashford Book Club will launch in June with Pooja Puri's middle-grade debut A Dinosaur Ate My Sister, won by Macmillan Children's Books in a seven-publisher auction.

Puri's “laugh-out-loud”, fully-illustrated time travel adventure will be the first title in the England and Manchester United star's club when it is published in June. It kicks off a new series for children aged eight to 11 from the author, illustrated by Allen Fatimaharan, with further instalments in spring 2022 and 203.

The series was acquired by Macmillan Children’s Books editor Simran Kaur Sandhu and publisher Rachel Petty as part of three-book world rights deal from Lauren Gardner at Bell Lomax Moreton. Puri said: “Being given the opportunity to be part of the Marcus Rashford Book Club is a real honour.”

To kick off the Marcus Rashford Book Club, Macmillan Children’s Books has partnered with children’s food charity Magic Breakfast to donate 50,000 free books, reaching more than 850 primary schools across England and Scotland.

Magic Breakfast offers healthy breakfasts to around 170,000 children each school day. The free books will be divided between the primary schools it currently supports. Each will be offered an allocation of books to distribute among some of their children to own and take home.

Rashford commented: “For too long, the joy of reading has been restricted by whether or not a family has the contingency budget to purchase books. The children who often miss out are those on free school meals and users of breakfast clubs, who more than likely need fiction, and non-fiction, to escape reality from time to time. We haven't been affording these children the option of reading for fun but that changes today.

“Everyone is aware of my experiences with breakfast club — it brightened up the start of my day, it stabilised the school day for me, allowed me to engage in reading and allowed me to form life-long friendships. I'm really happy to be partnering with Magic Breakfast to get our books in the hands of children that need them most.”

He added: “I'm proud to have Pooja join us too. She writes in a way that is engaging, escapist and authentic. Pooja is super talented and I'm a big fan, and I'm sure that the recipients of her book, A Dinosaur Ate My Sister, will soon be fans of hers too.”

A new title in the Marcus Rashford Book Club will launch in the autumn as part of an arrangement that will see two books a year getting into the hands of children who need them most.

Belinda Ioni Rasmussen, executive publisher at Macmillan Children's Books, added: “We are so proud to be launching this book club with Marcus Rashford and to be announcing our first partnership to help deliver it, with Magic Breakfast, today. Together, we are able to reach thousands of children this summer, putting books directly into the hands of children who need them most. Pooja Puri's A Dinosaur Ate My Sister is a brilliantly funny story and offers the perfect gateway to a lifetime of reading for pleasure. This is the first step in the book club's journey and we couldn't be more excited — and ambitious — about what we can achieve.”

Rachael Anderson, head of schools at Magic Breakfast, commented: “Now more than ever, families are facing hardship and for too many it’s a struggle to put food on the table – these children often miss out on the joy of brand new books at home to own and re-read. We also know the benefits of breakfast in school extend further than filling hungry tummies, it is a special time that also enables children to build friendships, learn through play and sit and read a good book. We know children at our partner schools will be delighted to have a Marcus' Book Club book of their own to take home and keep, and this will help inspire a new generation of children to discover the joy of reading.”