Simon & Schuster announced this week that Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Bruce Springsteen will write a new picture book illustrated by cartoonist and animator Frank Caruso, based on Springsteen's song "Outlaw Pete" from the 2009 album Working on a Dream.
The official press release describes Outlaw Pete as being "about a bank-robbing baby whose exploits become a meditation on sin, fate, and free will." In the song, it follows Pete through his life and apparent death, leaving the character's exact fate open-ended. That may seem a bit dark for a children's story, but the terminology of the announcement -- comparing it to grown-up picture books like Goodnight, iPad and Go the F--k to Sleep -- suggests it may be perfectly suited for its target audience.
The song was inspired by a 1950 children's book, Brave Cowboy Bill, which Springsteen's mother used to read to him as a child. "Outlaw Pete is essentially the story of a man trying to outlive and outrun his sins," Springsteen wrote.
Frank Caruso, a cartoonist and writer, conceived of making the song into a book and created the illustrations to accompany Springsteen's lyrics. "When Bruce wrote 'Outlaw Pete' he didn't just write a great song, he created a great character," Caruso said. "The first time I heard the song this book played out in my head. Like Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Dorothy Gale and for me, even Popeye, Outlaw Pete cuts deep into the folklore of our country and weaves its way into the fabric of great American literary characters. "
Caruso has previously worked on a similar project with best-selling author Andrew Vachss, author of Batman: The Ultimate Evil, which was both a novel and a comic. Caruso's graphic album with Vachss was titled Heart Transplant.
"This book will be treasured by anyone who appreciates Bruce Springsteen's unique gifts as a storyteller," said Jonathan Karp, President and Publisher of Simon & Schuster. "Frank Caruso's illustrations vibrantly capture the spirit of Springsteen's work."
Simon & Schuster, which acquired World rights to the work, will publish Outlaw Pete on November 4, 2014.