Penguin Random House has revealed that the new hardback edition of Roald Dahl’s final children’s book will be released on 7th September, six days before Roald Dahl Day, with a raft of Billy and the Minpins-themed celebrations planned.
The "reimagined" interpretation of the book, originally known as The Minpins, promises to be a “striking hardback edition” featuring Quentin Blake’s black-and-white line illustrations and a new title. Dahl originally contemplated calling the book Billy and the Minpins but it was retitled before being published by PRH imprint, Jonathan Cape, in 1991. The original picture-book format, which features illustrations by Patrick Benson, remains in print today. A Puffin spokesperson said it will “sit alongside” the new edition which will be published on 7th September retailing at £10.99.
The book follows the story of Billy who saves the Minpins, tiny tree-dwelling people whose children are the size of matchsticks, from the "fearsome" creature of the Gruncher. It is less well-known than many of Dahl’s other titles but features one of his most famous lines: “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
Puffin first announced the new edition in February when Francesca Dow, m.d of PRH's Children's, said it was the “right time” to “re-introduce warm-hearted, mischievous and brave little Billy to a new generation of readers”. It is the first time Blake has illustrated a new Roald Dahl hero in nearly 20 years.
Organisers of Roald Dahl Day, is a global celebration which takes place on the author's birthday, have also announced a range of events and activities to tie-in with the new edition. A free party pack will “challenge young people to #believeinmagic” to correspond with the theme of Billy and the Minpins and the Roald Dahl Museum will feature a special exhibition featuring Blake’s illustrations and the original manuscript as well as themed countryside trails.
The Puffin Virtually Live webcast will take place at 2pm in schools across the world and will feature CBBC’s Katie Thistleton, a tour of the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre’s archives with its director Steve Gardam, YouTube inventor and author Colin Furze as well as insights into how Blake "reimagined" Billy and the Minpins.
Personalised children’s book start-up, Wonderbly, revealed yesterday that it would collaborate with the Roald Dahl Estate on a new edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to be released on 13th September. It is the first time the estate has commissioned a new story based on one of the late, great author’s worlds and characters.
Blake, who first began working with Dahl 40 years ago and became his longtime collaberator, said: “I was delighted to be asked to illustrate Roald’s Billy and the Minpins, it feels like the cornerstone in our long collaboration together. As Roald’s parting gift, Patrick Benson’s illustrations in the original edition were perfectly suited to the lyrical feel of The Minpins.”
Blake paid tribute to the original illustrations. He said: “I have always greatly admired Patrick’s artwork and am so pleased both books will sit alongside each other, reaching fans of all ages. This new edition has nearly fifty pages of black-and-white drawings, which meant I could enjoy myself tremendously as I went into all the details of Billy’s exploits and adventures with the Minpins in the mysterious forest.”
For more information on Roald Dahl Day, visit roalddahl.com.