Thomas Lennon, the comic actor and writer known for starring in CBS’s The Odd Couple and co-writing the Night at the Museum films, has landed a three-book deal with Abrams Children’s Books for a debut middle-grade series, EW can exclusively announce. The first book in the saga, Ronan Boyle and the Bridge of Riddles, will publish early next year, with a significant 100,000-copy first printing. John Hendrix will contribute illustrations.
Ronan Boyle is a high-adventure fantasy tale is set in a magical world of law-breaking leprechauns and deadly monsters. Lennon delved into his Irish ancestry as a basis for the story, introducing 14-year-old Ronan, the youngest and lowliest recruit to the Garda Special Unit of Tir Na Nog, the Irish police force that handles the crimes of leprechauns and other wee folk. Ronan’s parents are in jail, but he’s convinced that they were framed by the wee people. Despite his small size, poor eyesight, and social awkwardness, Ronan is determined to learn all he can while in the garda in order to prove his parents’ innocence. To show he’s got what it takes, he’ll have to confront a fiery leprechaun, a sinister harpy, and a world full of nefarious creatures of Irish mythology hidden in plain sight.
“I was staying at Turin Castle, in County Mayo, and a friend showed me what a real Irish shillelagh looks like. It was huge cudgel — a real weapon,” Lennon said to EW of the book’s inspiration. “It looked like you could swing it and stop a train. I come from a big Irish family, and I’ve always loved the idea of leprechauns and their mischief, especially when it comes to tricking humans, swapping babies for logs.… I really love the not-cute version of leprechauns: hard-drinking, pipe-smoking swindlers who will steal your nose right off of your face if they could.”
Lennon also explained that this project has been a long time coming for him: “Ever since I read Douglas Adams as a teenager, I’ve been planning to write a funny fantasy novel, it just took me a very long time to do it.”
Ronan Boyle and the Bridge of Riddles will publish Feb. 26, 2019, and is available for pre-order here. Check out the exclusive cover below.