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'Harry Potter' director Chris Columbus takes on children's books

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(Read caption) The first book in a projected series by "Harry Potter" director Chris Columbus and author Ned Vizzini has a scheduled release date of spring 2013.

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After creating family-friendly entertainment with such films as the first two "Harry Potter" movies and the 1990 hit “Home Alone,” director-producer-screenwriter Chris Columbus is turning to children’s books.

Columbus, who also directed the 2010 film “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief,” has contracted to write a trilogy of children’s books for publisher HarperCollins, according to Entertainment Weekly. The books will be co-written with author Ned Vizzini, the writer of 2007’s “It’s Kind of a Funny Story.”

The books will be aimed at middle-schoolers, and the series has a working title of "House of Secrets." The books will focus on the Pagett siblings, who, with their parents, move into a house that was once owned by a fantasy author. The Pagetts are forced to go on a mysterious mission to save their parents and find out the truth behind their family. The first book has a planned release date of the spring, 2013.

Columbus told Entertainment Weekly that the transition to a writing process has not been a difficult one for him and that he was inspired to write children’s books after seeing how much the "Harry Potter" series affected young readers.

“You hope for just a section of that in terms of being able to inspire kids to read,” Columbus said. “And that’s really one of the themes of the book – that reading is essential to your development as a child and as an eventual adult. That really has inspired us in moving forward.”

Molly Driscoll is a Monitor contributor.

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