'Pan' writer, pub house set

Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing imprint Margaret K. McElderry Books announced Monday it has won the bidding war to publish the official sequel to J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” in the U.S.

The Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London, which owns the rights to Barrie’s classic, hopes the sequel will boost its lagging coffers and extend its international copyright on Barrie’s work for possibly decades to come.

Thus, the as-yet-untitled sequel must feature the original characters — Peter Pan, Wendy, Tinkerbell, Captain Hook and the Lost Boys, among others.

Last year, the hospital launched an international search for an author to pen the follow-up, with bestselling writer Geraldine McCaughrean emerging the victor. Her working title is rumored to be “Captain Pan.”

The judging panel included Barrie’s great-great-nephew, David Barrie, who said McCaughrean’s book will appeal to both children and adults.

Marking centennial

Sequel, set for day-and-date publication in September 2006, will mark the novel’s centenary. The hospital and McCaughrean will split the royalties.

Oxford University Press will publish the sequel in the U.K.; there are already more than 10 international publishing partners, including McElderry Books.

Emma D. Dryden, VP and associate publisher of McElderry Books and Atheneum Books for Young Readers, said she was “thrilled” to participate in this major publishing event.

Pub house characterized the auction process for U.S. rights as “hotly contested.” Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

” ‘Peter Pan’ is a beloved classic, and Geraldine McCaughrean is a brilliant writer with whom I’ve had the honor to work over the years,” Dryden said.

McCaughrean has written more than 130 books and plays for children and adults. She recently picked up her third Whitbread Children’s Book Award for “Not the End of the World.”

Barrie gave the copyright to “Peter Pan” to the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in 1929. The hospital, which has had to slash services in recent years for budgetary reasons, has never said how much it has made from the royalties.

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