Scholastic will publish a new version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol “retold” by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Tony Ross, who the publisher said is directly descended from one of Dickens’ illustrators.
The world rights deal for Rosen’s text for Bah! Humbug! was struck by Genevieve Herr, executive editor at Scholastic UK, and Charles Walker at United Agents. "Horrid Henry" illustrator, Ross, sold world rights to his artwork direct. Scholastic will publish the book this October.
In the book, Harry Gruber is playing the role of Scrooge in his school's production of "A Christmas Carol" and is nervous because his father is in the audience rather than away for business, as usual. He wonders if the story’s theme of Christmas cheer will reach his distracted father.
Former children’s laureate Rosen is also a poet, writer and broadcaster and was chief judge of the Roald Dahl Funny Prize and now the Laugh-Out-Loud Awards (the Lollies) which rewards the funniest books for children.
Ross has illustrated the Little Princess series (Andersen Press) as well as David Walliams’ books and is directly descended from one of Dickens’ illustrators, Scholastic said. The illustrator was described by the publisher as a "contemporary of Dickens, [who} knew the great man and signed his artwork ‘Lee’ as that was his surname".
Last week it was revealed that Ross was the most borrowed illustrator across public libraries last year.
Rosen said he hopes to shine a new light on Dickens’ classic. He said: “Great literature was written in its own time which sometimes means that we have to find ways to make it work for now. That’s what I have tried to do by framing A Christmas Carol with a modern story in a way that will help children see how the novel speaks about the way we are now.”
Herr said: "The combination of Michael's funny, wise, heartfelt text and Tony's wonderful illustrations has resulted in something truly special - a modern Christmas classic that will be enjoyed for years to come."
Bah! Humbug! will be accompanied by “a major” PR and marketing campaign when it is published in October, the publisher said.
Dickens' novella, A Christmas Carol, was originally published by Chapman in Hall in London in 1843.