Mark Twain lovers are getting a new posthumous book from the great author.
A previously unpublished children’s story, The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine, will be completed and released in September, Doubleday announced Friday. It will be brought to life as an illustrated 152-page book by renowned author and illustrator team Philip and Erin Stead (A Sick Day for Amos McGee).
The new tale contains Twain’s trademark wit and adventure. In it, a young boy who can talk to animals recruits his furry friends to help him save a kidnapped prince.
“As an illustrator, not a writer, I can often use the excuse that I can’t find the right words to describe how I am feeling (stunned and honored being the closest and most generic),” Erin Stead said in a statement. “Luckily I can now turn to Twain, who is quite quotable, to provide a little context and inspiration: ‘I’m not the declining sort. I would take charge of the constellations if I were asked to do it. All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence: then success is sure.'”
Philip channeled the dog-loving Twain, saying in a statement, “Of course any person in their right mind would be terrified of this project. But having the support of the [Mark Twain House & Museum] house allayed some fears… and then I had a good long walk-and-talk with my dog about it, and she assured me I had her full support, and that I was the right man for the job—provided it did not cut into our twice-daily ambles through the neighborhood, mealtimes, or the hours set aside each day for lying on our backs with our bellies in the air.”
The source material is 16 pages of Twain’s handwritten notes from a fairy tale he told his daughters in 1879. Philip Stead has completed the text, framing it as a story “told to me by my friend, Mr. Mark Twain.”
The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine will be published by Doubleday Books for Young Readers on Sept. 26.