2020 marks 80 years since Allen Lane founded Puffin, the biggest children’s publisher in the world, and to celebrate this big birthday, Puffin has announced a huge roster of activity that will champion the power of reading, take stories to imaginations worldwide and inspire children to “dream big” – and a partnership with MCM Comic Con to bring children’s books to its events through the year.
The very first Puffins, published in 1940, were non-fiction books to support child evacuees. The following year saw the publication of Puffin’s first four story books, including Worzel Gummidge. Since then, Puffin has inspired millions of children to dream big, whether that’s imagining rivers of chocolate, a snowman coming to life, what it might feel like to be a child in care, like Tracy Beaker, or being empowered to stand up for what they believe, like Matilda.
Internationally-recognised for classics such as Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web and Roald Dahl’s The BFG, alongside established contemporary authors including Jacqueline Wilson and Jeff Kinney (whose Diary of a Wimpy Kid is the biggest-selling children’s book globally), Puffin is home to talented new voices such as Tom Fletcher, Nadia Shireen, Vashti Harrison, Robin Stevens and Sam Copeland.
Many Puffin characters and books have gone on to inspire re-imaginings across stage, games, toys and the big and small screen.
Francesca Dow, Managing Director of Puffin since 2002, has followed in the footsteps of many brilliant women, such as Eleanor Graham and Kaye Webb, to shape Puffin’s success over the decades.
“Children have been growing up with Puffin for 80 years, and our stories have been at their side through both historical and personal milestones,” she notes. “We believe these stories inspire children to feel that they can be or do anything; give them the tools to understand, and change, the world around them.
“We want to use our 80th year to be a loud, proud voice for the power of stories, in all their forms, to inspire children to continue to dream big in 2020 and beyond!”
At the heart of Puffin’s Dream Big campaign for 2020 is, of course, a book. The Puffin Book of Big Dreams (publishing 14th May 2020) is a collection of stories and dreams to spark the imagination. Some of these dreams are big, some small, some are wild and fantastical, and some are full of love, hope and kindness.
This celebratory book embodies Puffin’s past, present and future, and comes bursting with over 40 new stories, poems and illustrations from beloved Puffin authors and illustrators as well as classic content. Contributors include Jeff Kinney, Malorie Blackman, Tom Fletcher, Jacqueline Wilson, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Jamie Littler, Humza Arshad and Henry White, Rashmi Sirdeshpande, Nathan Bryon, Ed Vere, Julia Donaldson, Nadia Shireen, Nick Sharratt, Shane DeVries, Helen Oxenbury and many, many more. Alongside them are pieces from previously unpublished mentees from the WriteNow and DrawNow programme.
The Puffin Book of Big Dreams also features the dreams of children who have participated in the Puffin World of Stories programme, as well as quotes from inspirational and talented individuals from all walks of life about their own childhood dreams.
In addition, Puffin is delighted to be publishing this year several books by their Write Now mentees: My Daddies by Gareth Peters, illustrated by Garry Parsons, Run Rebel by Manjeet Mann and two books by Rashmi Sirdeshpande – How to Change the World, illustrated by Annabel Tempest and Never Show a T-Rex a Book, illustrated by Diane Ewen.
WriteNow is a programme which actively seeks out, mentors and publishes new writers from under-represented backgrounds.
While Puffin continues to publish many timeless tales, for its 80th year it will bring a fresh and modern twist to some of its most famous children’s classics, reimagined by some of the brightest stars in the publishing world today.
These will include a contemporary re-imagining of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, A Miracle on Ebenezer Street by Cat Doyle; Carrie Hope Fletcher’s first children’s book, inspired by the much-loved classic Ballet Shoes, created with the official endorsement of the Streatfeild estate; and a new Puffin Picture Book Classic series launching with The Secret Garden in March, retold by Claire Freedman and illustrated by Shaw Davidson.
Puffin World of Stories is a programme funded by Puffin, and run in partnership with the National Literary Trust. Through book donation and bespoke training for teachers, the initiative gives primary schools the tools they need to re-vitalise their school library as a hub of creativity and imagination, and inspire children to fall in love with reading. In celebration of Puffin’s birthday, 80 new schools nationwide are taking part in the programme in 2020.
Other civic partnerships Puffin is expanding in 2020 to promote the accessibility of their books include a partnership with StorySign to help open the world of books to deaf children by translating children’s books into sign language. In 2020 they will be bringing more picture books into the innovative StorySign app (available on both Apple and Android devices), growing this library of Puffin titles.
For its 80th year, has also announces creative partnerships with MCM Comic Con and Into Film to celebrate stories beyond-the-book and its commitment to taking books to new readers.
Puffin will be joining forces with MCM Comic Con in 2020 for an innovative partnership that will put Matilda alongside Wonder Woman. As part of the UK’s biggest convention of pop-culture and creativity, Puffin will be running workshops and collecting dreams in the under-12s Tree House area at shows in London, Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester.
Through a competition that will open in March 2020, school children will also have the chance to see their dream turned into a film – and premiered in their local cinema as part of the Into Film Festival, the largest youth-focused film festival in the world. And with so many Puffin books hitting the cinemas in 2020, from Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit, Jacqueline Wilson’s Four Children and It to Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl and Roald Dahl’s The Witches, young dreamers are sure to find plenty of inspiration.
Puffin Podcast & Events Programme
To continue to reach new readers, in spring 2020, Puffin is launching a podcast hosted by author, comedian and YouTuber Humza Arshad, who will be joined by young sidekicks for a 30 minute story-inspired burst of fun, silliness and hilarity. The podcast will be available on Spotify, Apple podcasts and YouTube.
An extensive nationwide events programme throughout 2020 will get authors and illustrators in front of more children than ever. Puffin will host a number of flagship live events for school children in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle. In May, Puffin Schools will present a special Big Dreamers Story-Makers Show, which will be streaming into classrooms across the country. A Puffin Big Dreamers storytelling event will also be offered to children’s book festivals across the UK.
Further brand partnerships and events for Puffin’s 80th birthday celebrations will be announced over the coming months.
• Puffin World of Stories: www.puffinworldofstories.co.uk
The first four Puffin Picture Books are published with the aim of helping evacuated city children adjust to life in the country. Titles such as War on Land are such a success that they are quickly followed by fiction. One title is Orlando the Marmalade Cat, the hero of 19 books between 1941-1972.
The first female editor for Puffin, Eleanor Graham, set out for Penguin founder Sir Allen Lane’s country home during an air-raid in 1940, driving in darkness with flack flying overhead to discuss the launch of a paperback fiction series, Puffin Story Books.
Worzel Gummidge, Cornish Adventure, Mrs Moleworth’s Cuckoo Clock, Herbert Best’s Garram the Hunter and Will James’s Smoky are all published.
Stig of the Dump is first published.
Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is published.
The Puffin Book Club is started by Kaye Webb, which grows to become a childhood institution with 200,000 members.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar was initially called A Week with Willi the Worm, when first published in the US, now one copy is sold every 15 seconds (first published by Puffin in 1974).
Puffin publishes Watership Down which quickly became Penguin’s best-seller.
Mildred Hubble (The Worst Witch) starts at Miss Cackle’s Academy of witches.
A copy of Gobbolino, The Witch’s Cat is buried in the Puffin Time Capsule in 1978 – nobody knows what message Ursula Moray-Williams wrote in it.
Puffin publishes Where’s Spot? - the first lift-the-flap book created for children.
Puffin publishes You Can Do the Cube – simple, step-by-step instructions on how to complete the Rubik’s cube by schoolboy cube master Patrick Bossert. The book sold a million copies between July and Christmas that year.
Puffin.co.uk is launched as the first website produced by a children’s publisher.
Diary of A Wimpy Kid is first published – now the world’s bestselling children’s book.
Penguin and Random House came together to form the world’s first truly global book publishing company.
Jacqueline Wilson publishes her 100th book.
A crater discovered on planet Mercury is named after Madeleine L’Engle.
Puffin co-creates the first Roald Dahl app, Twit or Miss, with Aardman Animation.
Puffin sends picture book Goodnight Spaceman into space with an historic CBeebies bedtime story read by astronaut Tim Peake from the International Space Station.
Puffin acquires Penguin Write Now mentees, Rashmi Sirdeshpande and Emma Smith-Barton.
Lauren Child becomes the 10th Children’s Laureate to have publishing with Puffin.
Peter Rabbit becomes the biggest UK family film of the year.
80 new schools join Puffin World of Stories.
Puffin celebrates 80 years of Dreaming Big.
The Puffin Time Capsule will be dug up . . .