During lockdown and shutdown, Mac Barnett, author of the Mac B. Kid Spy middle-grade series, early reader series Jack, the Shapes trilogy with Jon Klassen, and more, began a new thing. Mac's Book Club, running online on Instagram video, which began with a live cartoon collaboration with cartoonist Shawn Harris, known for Everyone's Awake and What Can A Citizen Do.
Since then, Barnett has continued to do live picture book readings every day, with guest readers including Jon Klassen, Carson Ellis, and Christian Robinson. He then took it further with Mac's Book Club Show: Chapter Books After Dark, later in the day, reading a chapter from his Mac B Kid Spy: Mac Undercover novel.
But it's those live cartoons that have caught the most imagination. Pre-drawn illustrations, animated by hand with Mac and Shawn doing the voices. And it is those that have been bought by Mabel Hsu at HarperCollins/Tegen to be adapted into a graphic novel series, the first of which called The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza.
The graphic novel follows "an unlikely trio—a bionic cat, toenail-clipping robot, and moon queen—as they race to save the moon from the rats who want to eat it… and maybe find some pizza along the way."
HarperCollins/Tegen is another name for Katherine Tegen Books is an imprint of HarperCollins Children's that publishes high-quality, commercial literature for children of all ages, including teens. Previous graphic novel deals last year included Yehudi Mercado's Chunky.
Publication of the first book is set for summer 2022. And their agent, Steven Malk at Writers House negotiated a two-book deal for the pair. Writers House is one of the largest literary agencies in the world. Based in New York, it was founded by Al Zuckerman, a former novelist, TV writer, and teacher of playwriting at Yale.