A bedtime story Mark Twain told his daughters in 1879 — never published before — will be released this fall as a children’s book.
The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine is an 11-chapter, 152-page illustrated storybook “for all ages” with a first printing of 250,000 copies. The “unfinished” story is being completed by author Philip Stead and illustrator Erin Stead and will be published Sept. 26 by Doubleday Books for Young Readers, the publisher announced Friday.
The basis for the book is 16 pages of handwritten notes Twain made after he told his young daughters a fairy tale one night while the family was staying in Paris.
The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine, according to the publisher, “follows a young boy who eats the flower sprouted by a magical seed and gains the ability to talk to animals. From there, the boy and his new animal friends go off on a wild adventure to rescue a kidnapped prince.”
Philip and Erin Stead, who are married, won the 2011 Caldecott Medal for their children's book A Sick Day for Amos McGee.
They have framed the Prince tale as “told to me by my friend, Mr. Mark Twain,” and include occasional interruptions by an imagined meeting over tea between Philip and Twain, according to a news release.