Dan Brown is preparing to publish a hybrid music album and children's picture book.
And, yes, we're talking about the same Dan Brown behind such thrillers as "The Da Vinci Code."
As out of the blue as the news sounds, it's actually not that much of a departure. Before he became a bestselling writer, Brown was an aspiring musician. In 1989, he self-produced an album of children's music he arranged on synthesizers, titled "Musica Animalia."
It sold only around 500 copies, and Brown turned his focus to writing novels.
Now, three decades later, he is reviving his musical career. The book, "Wild Symphony," which Rodale Kids plans to release in September, is aimed at 3- to 7-year-olds.
The story features a mouse conductor who recruits other animals to perform in his orchestra, dispensing wisdom about the value of patience, kindness and respect along the way. Readers can listen to the musical accompaniments for each page with a smartphone app that scans the page and plays such tunes as "Bouncing Kangaroo," "Wondrous Whale" and "Brilliant Bat."
Brown said the story and music were inspired by classical works like "Peter and the Wolf" and "The Carnival of the Animals." He is also simultaneously releasing an album of the music that he composed, performed by the Zagreb Festival Orchestra in Croatia.
Although a far cry from his adrenaline-fueled and occasionally bloody suspense novels, "Wild Symphony" has some of his hallmarks. In classic Brown fashion, there are clues and puzzles sprinkled throughout the book; observant readers will find letters of the alphabet floating in the illustrations of blue whales, cheetahs, kangaroos and tropical fish. (The letters form anagrams that spell a musical instrument when placed in the right order.)
Brown was closely involved in the process, from choosing the illustrator, Susan Batori, to overseeing the development of the app, said Mallory Loehr, senior vice president and publisher of the Random House Books for Young Readers Group.
Rodale is printing 150,000 copies of the book, and rights have sold in 27 countries.