Unpublished Twain story gets US release

Unpublished Twain story gets US release

North American publisher Doubleday Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, will this year release a previously unfinished children’s book by Mark Twain.

The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine is about a boy called Johnny who has magical seeds. Twain started telling his daughters the story in 1879 and later jotted down some notes, although he never completed it.

American author Philip Stead has used Twain’s notes, which are in the Mark Twain archive at the University of California, to complete the story, which now includes a quest to rescue a stolen prince. The book is illustrated by Stead’s wife, Erin Stead.  

“To publish a new Twain story is an incredible literary event,” said Frances Gilbert, associate publishing director of Random House Books for Young Readers, who acquired the rights from Tina Wexler at ICM. “When I first got the chance to read this unpublished Twain story, I couldn’t believe what I was holding. I’ve admired Erin and Philip Stead’s work since their first book and couldn’t think of a more ideal match for this project. It’s an American dream team.”

The author and illustrator are represented by Emily van Beek at Folio Jr.

The book will have an initial print run of 250,000 and will go on sale in September to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Twain’s first book, a collection of stories called The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other Sketches.

Penguin Random House Children’s in the UK told The Bookseller it is not currently planning on releasing the book. However, UK customers can ship the title from the US via Amazon.co.uk.