(Updated 17/1/07 with thanks to Jeremy Briggs and Alan Grant): 25,000 free copies of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped – including a graphic novel version by Alan Grant and Cam Kennedy – are to be distributed throughout Edinburgh in February in a campaign to get the city’s residents reading the same book.
Edinburgh’s first citywide reading campaign is a unique project created by the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature.
One Book – One Edinburgh aims to get as many Edinburgh citizens as possible reading this exciting adventure story – on their own initiative, or through libraries, schools and book groups. The campaign is supported by more than 30 partner organisations from across the city with a large public programme of events backing up the reading campaign in February.
Three new editions of Stevenson’s great adventure story have been created – a paperback, Grant and Kennedy’s fantastic new graphic novel and a simplified version. Of the 25,000, there will be 10,000 copies of the original text with a preface by Louise Welsh in a beautiful new paperback edition from Canongate.
The organisers for Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature describe the publication of 7,500 copies of a specially commissioned graphic novel by Alan Grant and illustrator Cam Kennedy as “a major coup.” Between them, the top creators have contributed to classics of the comics genre such as Judge Dredd, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight and Star Wars.
This campaign has also sparked two new spin-offs of the graphic novel. Both use Kennedy’s magnificent artwork, but publishers Itchy Coo have produces a Scots language version entitled Kidnappit!, and Barrington Stoke have created a modern text edition, simplifying the original language for younger readers. Look out for these editions in local bookshops.
The third free edition of Kidnapped comprises 7,500 copies of a simplified retold edition created especially for a younger audience.
Free copies of the three editions of the book will be distributed across Edinburgh in February to every primary and secondary school, to every public library and to partner organisations. From 1st February, members of the public can drop into their local library to claim a free copy while stocks last. More information can be found on the campaign’s dedicated One Book – One Edinburgh pages.
“Robert Louis Stevenson is Scotland’s greatest author, and for me Kidnapped is his greatest book,” Alan Grant told downthetubes. “It was an honour for me to be asked to do the graphic novel adaptation, especially as it’s UNESCO’s first-ever “One City, One Book” campaign. My hope is that the comic strip version will get young people reading — it would seem to be bearing some early fruit, as Cam and I have been asked to put on a series of workshops in both Edinburgh and Glasgow, targeting some of the top schools as well as several of the more difficult ones.
“I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s a success, because I really want to do adaptations of Treasure Island and Jekyll and Hyde as well!”
“Kidnapped, the epic adventure of young David Balfour, is a fantastic story set in one of the most dramatic periods of Scotland’s history,” explains Ali Bowden, Manager of the Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust, “and Stevenson is a great Edinburgh author. We’re very excited to be bringing this wonderful book to an Edinburgh readership in these new formats. The different editions will appeal to different readers, and will enable us to reach the widest possible audience.”
The public programme totals more than 30 events, including exhibitions, a literary walking tour following in Stevenson’s footsteps and a series of readings in conjunction with the National Library of Scotland, the first of which will take place on 1st February when Ian Rankin joins others to discuss the gothic, the criminal and Stevenson.
For a younger audience, Donald Smith, Director of the Scottish Storytelling Centre, has scripted an irreverent and cheeky take on the Kidnapped story – When Kilts Were Banned – storytelling theatre with the bare essentials: wit, humour, falling out, friendship and growing up – but no kilts.
The 1971 classic film of the story, starring Michael Caine and Donald Pleasence, will be shown at the Filmhouse on 24th February.