Simon Cowell and his six-year-old son are teaming up with Hachette Children’s Group on a new picture-led children’s book series called Wishfits.
The series centres on a group of “magical and unusual” creatures, invented by Cowell and his young son Eric, that combine two different species to form hybrid animals with distinct characteristics.
With a seven-book commitment in place, the first three books in the series will launch in spring 2021, with the next four books to follow in 2022. HCG senior publisher Ruth Alltimes acquired UK and Commonwealth publishing rights, for all formats, from Matilda Forbes Watson at the WME Agency.
A portion of Cowell’s takings will go to two children’s charities, Shooting Star Children’s Hospices and Together For Short Lives.
The surprise collaboration was unveiled by Cowell as the highlight of the annual Hachette Global Showcase at The Cambridge Theatre in central London on Monday afternoon (24th February).
Cowell explained that the project started with a game he and his son Eric used to play, where they would dream up strange and magical animals they would like to own as a pet, with Eric in particular delighting in naming them. With a point to make about celebrating our differences, among the series’ cast of creatures are the Dat (dog/cat), the Cog (cat/dog) and the Snog (snail/dog, combining the enthusiasm of a dog at the speed of a snail), as well as the Peep (pig/sheep), the Hipperoo (hippo/kangaroo), and the Chimpanpoo (chimpanzee/poodle).
Encouraged three years ago by a friend who worked at a children’s charity to turn it into a series, Cowell then turned to a creative platform called Tongal to get the input of thousands of creatives to help develop it before bringing Hachette in.
“To be able to write a series of books with my son Eric has been magical,” said Cowell. “This idea was inspired three years ago by a very special friend of ours who runs a Children’s Hospice charity. I told her one evening about some of the funny animals my son Eric and I would invent, starting with the Cog and the Dat. And how every evening the two of us would think of the most unlikely animal we would like to have as a pet. We would come up with some very strange new animals and the naming of the animals was Eric’s favourite thing! She loved this idea so much she encouraged me to turn this into a book series.
“I met with an amazing company called Tongal who have a global community of creators. We loved the idea of thousands of creative people being part of the development of our idea. The reaction, support and imagination we got back was truly inspiring and helped us to bring this to life.
“I really do believe it’s important to encourage kids' creativity and imagination. I also believe kids have better ideas than most adults. I hope these books will be fun for kids to read, and we will encourage them to come up with new animals for the books. The books will tell how these unique friendships are formed and will celebrate individuality and positivity. We will see how the strengths of these animals are in their differences and make the point we live in a world where inclusivity is so important. And of course these animals will all have lots of fun on their magical adventures together!”
He added: “I am thrilled to be working with Hachette, an amazing publishing house. They shared our passion and enthusiasm from the moment we told them about Wishfits”.
According to HCG, while some of the creatures in the series are “part friendly, part fierce, others both furry and scaly”, they are “all busy forming unusual friendships, learning life lessons, sharing adventures and having a fun and magical time together”.
Alltimes, the senior editor who did the deal, said: “Children are fascinated by the idea of mixing up two different things to create something new–it plays to their creativity and inventiveness. And Wishfits combines this fun-filled idea with themes of acceptance and inclusivity, as well as being a great way for children to learn about animals, nature and the environment. It’s wish fulfilment all round! So we are extremely excited to be partnering with global entertainment icon Simon and his son Eric to bring their brilliant ideas to life, and to introduce a generation of children to characters as unforgettable as Cog, Dat, and so many more.”
The books will launch in paperback at £6.99, with “a highly accessible commercial package for the broadest appeal”.