by Alison Flood)
Fresh from penning a call to revolution, Russell Brand is embarking on a series of children's books in which the comedian will share his own interpretation of classic fairy stories because "once we start changing the way children see the world, oh we can do all sorts of stuff".
Brand announced his venture into children's literature on YouTube late on Tuesday. The series, to be called Trickster Tales, will be illustrated by the award-winning artist Chris Riddell, and will kick off with Brand's take on The Pied Piper of Hamelin in autumn, from publisher Canongate.
"Once upon a time, long ago, in a time that seemed to those present exactly like now, except their teeth weren't so clean, and more things were wooden, there was a town called Hamelin," writes Brand as the story opens. Then, later: "The clock made its sixth chime. 'Now it's six,' said the glint-eyed piper. A rat that was eating his discarded ham sandwich looked up, fearfully. All the rats paused. The piper silently drew in a long breath through his long nose. The glint-eyed piper knew that each breath we take is borrowed. The glint-eyed piper knew that all things are connected, the clouds, the people, the rats, the pipe, the music. All things are connected by invisible threads. The people of the town didn't know that, for they only cared about things they could see and eat and get prizes for."
Brand told readers: "I know you've already heard of that, and you might think 'well, that ain't your story', but I've done a different version of it."
Trickster Tales would, he said, be his own "interpretations of fairy stories and folk tales", because he believes they are "the code to unlock aspects of our consciousness and to affect and impact the way we see the world", and "once we start changing the way children see the world, oh we can do all sorts of stuff".
"It's coming out soon. Do you want it? You can have it if you want," said Brand, displaying illustrations of rats from Riddell.
Canongate said the books would be "filled with humour and mischievous energy", with The Pied Piper to be published in November. Publisher Jamie Byng called it "total genius".
Riddell added that: "Russell's voice is unique – funny, wise and engaging … And there will be rats, lots and lots of rats!"
Brand follows his fellow comedian David Walliams into children's literature – Walliams' Gangsta Granny has sold more than 300,000 copies in hardback – as well as a host of other celebrities, including Madonna, Geri Halliwell and Katie Price. Brand has another book out this autumn, an as-yet-untitled "call to arms" which lays out his vision for how to "establish a personal and global utopia".
He is also the author of two memoirs, My Booky Wook and Booky Wook 2: This Time It's Personal.