Studiocanal and Neal Street Productions are developing a feature adaptation of Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree with Paddington 2‘s Simon Farnaby attached to write. Neal Street’s Pippa Harris and Nicolas Brown will produce.

English writer Blyton, who has been called the JK Rowling of her time, was born in 1897 and is one of the biggest selling children’s authors in history with global sales of over 500M books. The Magic Faraway Tree series was written between 1939 and 1951, and includes four novels: The Enchanted Wood, The Magic Faraway Tree, The Folk Of The Faraway Tree and Up The Faraway Tree. All have been optioned by Neal Street from Hachette Children’s Group.

Each story takes place in the enchanted wood in which the titular tree grows. It’s tall enough to reach the clouds and large enough to contain small houses. At the top of the tree is an ever-rotating series of fantastic worlds, everything from the Land of Birthdays to the Land of Topsy-Turvy. Discovered by the books’ child heroes, the tree and wood provide the background to their adventures.

For Studiocanal, the project reps a continuation of the company’s ambitions in the family franchise space with such successes as Shaun The Sheep and the current Paddington 2 which has grossed over $22M at the UK box office in its first two weekends. Neal Street brings its expertise with such family properties as the stage adaptation of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory which co-founder Sam Mendes directed.

Farnaby says, “The Magic Faraway Tree books are a firework display of the imagination. The pages are lit up with wonderful characters, humor, peril and adventure. Most homes have a well-worn jam fingerprinted volume somewhere on their shelves. I’m very much looking forward to bringing the likes of the Old Saucepan Man and Dame Washalot to the big screen for fans both old and new.”

Danny Perkins, Studiocanal UK CEO, adds, “Enid Blyton’s work is timeless. Like many, I have loved her writing since childhood and it’s incredible to develop such an expansive project with first class partners Neal Street Productions and Simon Farnaby. Not unlike the work of Michael Bond CBE, we very much look forward to bringing enduring family classics to audiences worldwide.”

As a child, Pippa Harris says she was “entranced by the magical world created by Blyton, and it’s terrific to have the chance to introduce her beloved characters to a new generation of children. I know that by partnering with Studiocanal and Simon Farnaby, we will be make sure that Moonface, Silky, Dame Washalot and Saucepan Man are in very safe hands.”