Macmillan Children’s Books (MCB) has won a seven-publisher auction to publish middle-grade and picture books by Sir Lenny Henry.
Henry’s debut fiction title, as yet untitled, will publish in autumn 2021 and the first picture book, You Can Do Anything, Tyrone, will be released in spring 2022.
“This is an incredibly exciting moment of my life; I was a voracious reader throughout my childhood even though there were not that many books in our house,” said Henry. “I joined Dudley Library at the behest of my Auntie Pearl and from that moment on I was a regular customer, immersing myself in the parallel universes of Just William, Enid Blyton and C S Lewis. When I thought about writing for children, all my favourite authors sprang to mind – big respect to all of them. To contribute to such a hallowed canon is the biggest thrill ever.”
Samantha Smith, publisher of fiction, non-fiction and picture books at MCB, acquired world and audio rights to four middle-grade novels and three picture books from Natalie Jerome at Aevitas Creative.
A short story introducing Tyrone has already been published online and MCB is asking members of the public, of any age, to send in their drawings of the character. A selection of the entries will be published in the first book.
MCB will also launch a major marketing and PR campaign in autumn 2021 that will include brand partnerships, author events and national and international media appearances.
Belinda Rasmussen, m.d. of MCB, said: “As soon as we heard Sir Lenny Henry was turning his enormous talent to writing for children, we knew MCB had to be his publisher…. Readers across the globe will be buzzing to get their hands on his books and MCB is the publisher to get them there.”