Scribner Signs Six Book Deal With Toni Morrison and Son

Posted on June 28, 2002

Toni Morrison, the 1993 Nobel Laureate in Literature and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, and her son, Slade Morrison, will publish with Scribner, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, a series of illustrated books inspired by select Aesop's fables. The books will be illustrated by the Belgian artist Pascal Lemaitre. The agreement was announced today by Carolyn K. Reidy, President of the Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group.

Initial plans call for six books. The series title is Who's Got Game? The first book The Ant or the Grasshopper? is scheduled for publication in the Spring of 2003 under the Scribner imprint. The books will be edited by Nan Graham, Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of Scribner. The agreement is for world rights.

"I've always had a twinge of envy for novelists who write for all ages," said Ms. Morrison. "It was when my son, Slade, provided the Aesop slant, that I became fascinated by the idea. We peeped between the lines of these beloved (but often depressing) Aesop tales with their 'dead end' morals. In each retelling, the point is to give fresh meaning to the tales, to suggest that everything isn't a done deal: the victim can strike back; the fool can become smart; the frightened can become courageous; the weak can get strong."

"I see the stories not just in shapes, line and color, but also in elements of tension that point to questions, uncertainty. What is going on in these fables is the beginning of something, not the end; not the moral," said Slade Morrison.

The Morrisons fell in love with the work of Pascal Lemaitre, and the illustrations he has created in response to their words are spectacularly vivid and imaginative. "It's an honor and a challenge to work for such writers as Toni and Slade Morrison," said Lemaitre. "I tried to serve the text by leaving the questions open. My solution to the dramatic and theatrical content of the text was to create comic strips that give a new contemporariness to Aesop's fables. My wife, Emmanuele Phuon, helped me select the colors that differentiate the climates of the stories."

Toni Morrison, who is best known for her fiction, teaches at Princeton University. Her novels include Song of Solomon (1977), Beloved (1987), Jazz (1992), and Paradise (1998). Slade Morrison has co-authored two previous books with Toni Morrison. A painter by profession, he has a home and studio in Rockland County, New York. Pascal Lemaitre has been a freelance illustrator since 1990. He illustrated Supercat, and worked with the Morrisons on a children's book, The Book of Mean People.