Leno cooks up ‘Roast Beef’ for kid readers

Whitehead to help yak host illustrate book set for 2004 release

In addition to his latenight duties, Jay Leno will be serving up roast beef.

Talkshow host will pen children’s book “If Roast Beef Could Fly” for Simon & Schuster. Story is based on a barbecue experience from Leno’s childhood.

“Not only are we thrilled to be publishing Jay Leno, we’re particularly pleased to have this book because it’s a story only Jay could tell.” said Rick Richter, prexy-publisher of S&S Children’s Publishing.

Funny family story

Leno, who was approached to write a book, pointed out that sharing personal experiences “is what I do for a living.”

“This story is one of many of my family stories that I enjoy telling people,” said Leno, who left open the possibility of other children’s titles. “It’s a funny story and there are some things in there for the adults, so we’ll see what happens,” he told Daily Variety.

“Roast Beef” will be released in summer 2004 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers imprint. S.B. Whitehead, whose work has appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Time and Newsweek, will provide illustrations.

Leno no tyro

Deal was brokered between Richter, packager Byron Preiss and ICM’s Amanda Urban for Leno.

Harper Collins published Leno’s bestselling “Leading With My Chin” in 1998. Leno’s other titles include newspaper-inspired “Headlines” and “Police Blotter.”