Puffin unveils plans for 80th anniversary celebrations

Puffin unveils plans for 80th anniversary celebrations

Jacqueline Wilson and Malorie Blackman will join in the celebrations for Puffin’s 80th birthday with a "huge roster" of activity including an expanded World of Stories scheme in schools, a new podcast and a special new Puffin collection.

The publisher will mark 80 years since being founded by Allen Lane with "celebrations to champion the power of reading and inspire children to dream big".

In May, Puffin will publish The Puffin Book of Big Dreams, a collection of stories and dreams "to spark the imagination". Puffin said: "This celebratory book embodies Puffin’s past, present and future. It’s bursting with over 40 new stories, poems and illustrations from beloved Puffin authors and illustrators as well as classic content." As well as Blackman and Wilson, contributors include Tom Fletcher, Humza Arshad, Julia Donaldson, Nick Sharratt and Helen Oxenbury among others. Pieces from previously unpublished mentees from the WriteNow and DrawNow programme as well as "the dreams of children who have participated in the Puffin World of Stories programme" as well as quotes from others about their childhood dreams will also be included. Publication is slated for 14th May.

The Puffin World of Stories funded by Puffin, and run in partnership with the National Literary Trust, will be relaunched and expanded. Through book donations and bespoke training for teachers, the initiative gives primary schools the tools they need to re-vitalise their school library as a hub of creativity and imagination, and inspire children to fall in love with reading. In celebration of Puffin’s birthday, 80 new schools nationwide are taking part in the programme in 2020, in addition to the 50 schools which the programme piloted in over the past two years. 

Other civic partnerships Puffin is expanding in 2020 to promote the accessibility of their books include a scheme with Storysign, the world's first literacy platform for deaf children, to help open the world of books to deaf children by translating children’s books into sign language. "In 2020 we will be bringing more picture books into the innovative StorySign app, growing this library of Puffin titles," the publisher said.

Additionally, a podcast will launch in spring 2020 in an attempt to engage with new readers.  Author, comedian and YouTuber Humza Arshad, who will be joined by "young sidekicks for a 30-minute story-inspired burst of fun, silliness and hilarity".

Puffin will also be joining forces with MCM Comic Con in 2020 for an innovative partnership that will put Matilda alongside Wonder Woman. As part of the UK’s biggest convention of pop-culture and creativity, Puffin will be running workshops and collecting dreams in the under-12s Tree House area at shows in London, Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester. Through a competition that will open in March 2020, children will also have the chance to see their dream turned into a film – and premiered in their local cinema as part of the Into Film Festival, the largest youth-focused film festival in the world.

An extensive nationwide events programme throughout 2020 will see authors and illustrators in front of more children than ever before, the publisher said. Puffin will host a number of flagship live events for schoolchildren in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle. In May, Puffin Schools will present a special Big Dreamers Story-Makers Show, which will be streaming into classrooms across the country. A Puffin Big Dreamers storytelling event will also be offered to children’s book festivals across the UK.

The 80th birthday will also be celebrated at the Bologna Book Fair (20th March to 2nd April). Bookshops across the globe, from India to New Zealand and Europe, will be joining in the celebrations.

Francesca Dow, m.d. of Penguin Random House Children’s, said: "Children have been growing up with Puffin for 80 years, and our stories have been at their side through both historical and personal milestones. We believe these stories inspire children to feel that they can be or do anything; give them the tools to understand, and change, the world around them. We want to use our 80th year to be a loud, proud voice for the power of stories, in all their forms, to inspire children to continue to dream big in 2020 and beyond."

PR agency Premier has been appointed to support all communication activity throughout the 80th celebrations in 2020. Further brand partnerships, publishing and events will be announced over the coming months.

The very first Puffins, published in 1940 by founder Allen Lane, were non-fiction books to support child evacuees. The following year saw the publication of Puffin’s first four story books, including Worzel Gummidge