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The Jim Henson Company Together With Penguin Young Readers Group Announce Winner of the Dark Crystal Author Quest

New York, NY — The Jim Henson Company and Grosset & Dunlap, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, announced today that J. M. Lee of Minneapolis, MN has won the Dark Crystal Author Quest and will pen the first book of a new young adult novel series based on Jim Henson’s classic fantasy film. “I am so honored and excited to take on this project,” said J. M. Lee. “The Dark Crystal has been a fantasy staple in my household since I was a kid, so the opportunity to join the legacy is an absolute treat.”

Last summer, Grosset & Dunlap and The Jim Henson Company announced a partnership to create the first ever original novel series set in the world of The Dark Crystal and that they would select an author for the first book by a contest open to both established and aspiring writers. “The Dark Crystal Author Quest was a wonderful way to bring together our fan community, allowing them to demonstrate their endless creativity,” said Lisa Henson, CEO of The Jim Henson Company. “I was most impressed by their knowledge of and respect for the fantastical world my father and Brian Froud created so many years ago. Though we received many excellent, professional-level submissions, we are most enthusiastic about J. M. Lee’s approach to continuing the adventures of The Dark Crystal.”

Lee’s story, “The Ring of Dreams” was selected from among nearly 500 contest submissions. The top-five entries from the Author Quest, including “The Ring of Dreams,” were released as an Ebook special last month.

Francesco Sedita, President and Publisher of Grosset & Dunlap, commented, “I’ve been a fan of the Dark Crystal since I was a boy so I was so excited to read the submissions that came in. I couldn’t believe the number—and quality—of entries we received. That made selecting an author to write this novel far from easy. But from early on we knew there was something special about J. M. Lee’s writing. He’s a passionate and creative storyteller and we are so excited to see where his imagination takes us.”

J. M. (Joseph) Lee is a novelist, writing mentor, illustrator and graphic designer with a background in linguistics and film. As a writer, he finds the most rewarding stories in fusion genre, from nostalgic historical fantasies to gritty sci-fi westerns. He says “The Dark Crystal was my first Jim Henson experience after being coerced into a viewing by my father, who since has admitted he just thought I would like the “soundtrack performed by a bunch of giant crows.” And I did! I’ve always been a fan of dark fantasy, but thinking back on how early it was that The Dark Crystal became part of my VHS(!) library, I wonder which came first: the Skeksis or the egg. Even now, the depth of world and profundity has continued to reveal itself as I grow into my so-called adulthood.” On the side, he enjoys dabbling in experimental short fiction and drinking a lot of coffee. He is represented by Erzsi Deak/Hen&ink Literary Studio.

The world of The Dark Crystal began with the classic fantasy film, widely regarded as groundbreaking for its technological achievements in animatronics and puppetry. Released in 1982, the film, directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz and based on the designs of artist Brian Froud, is set in the world of Thra where the last two survivors of the Gelfling tribe embark on a dangerous journey with evil and mysterious creatures at every turn. The new novel series will be a prequel storyline, taking place before the time of the classic fantasy film, during the Gelfling Gathering in the early Age of Division.

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Travel back in time to the fantasy world of Thra. Jen and Kira, surviving members of the Gelfling tribe, set out to find the crystal’s missing shard and begin a dangerous journey that will bring them face to face with evil Skeksis and mysterious creatures. Jim Henson’s Creature Shop worked to build both animatronics and soft puppets for this film, marking it as the first ever all-puppet full length feature. Directors Jim Henson and Frank Oz created a masterpiece of fantasy based on the designs of artist Brian Froud that has earned its place in cinematic history as one of the must-see classics of its genre.

Since its premiere in 1982, Jim Henson’s visionary fantasy classic has been celebrated at screenings, on DVD and online, and in collections of comics, manga, figurines, sculptures, and plush. The new darkcrystal.com website  aggregates all the narratives of The Dark Crystal universe and include artwork and behind the scenes archives.


Penguin Young Readers Group is one of the leading children’s book publishers in the United States. The company owns a wide range of imprints and trademarks including Dial Books, Dutton, Grosset & Dunlap, Philomel, Puffin, Speak, Firebird, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, Viking, Razorbill, and Frederick Warne. These imprints are home to such award-winning, New York Times- bestselling authors as, Laurie Halse Anderson, Jay Asher, Judy Blume, Jan Brett, Eric Carle, Roald Dahl, Tomie dePaola, Sarah Dessen, Anna Dewdney, John Green, Anthony Horowitz, John Flanagan, Mike Lupica, Richelle Mead, Richard Peck, Patricia Polacco, and dozens of other popular authors. Penguin Young Readers Group is also the proud publisher of perennial brand franchises such as The Little Engine That Could, the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series, Peter Rabbit, Spot, the Classic Winnie the Pooh, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Strega Nona, Madeline, Mad Libs, Alex Rider, the Rangers Apprentice, Skippyjon Jones, Flower Fairies, and Pippi Longstocking, among many others. Penguin Young Readers Group is a division of Penguin Random House.


The Jim Henson Company has remained an established leader in family entertainment for over 50 years and is recognized worldwide as an innovator in puppetry, animatronics and digital animation. Best known as creators of the world famous Muppets, Henson has received over 50 Emmy Awards and nine Grammy Awards. Recent credits include the Emmy® nominated Sid the Science KidDinosaur Train, and Pajanimals, in addition to the new series Doozers, a CG animated preschool series. Features include the upcoming Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day, The Dark CrystalLabyrinth and MirrorMask. Television productions include Fraggle Rock, the sci-fi cult series Farscape, and the new reality competition Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge.

With additional locations in New York and London, The Jim Henson Company is headquartered in Los Angeles on the historic Charlie Chaplin lot, complete with soundstage and postproduction facilities.  The Company is also home to Jim Henson’s Creature Shop™, a pre-eminent character-building and visual effects group with international film, television, theme park and advertising clients, as well as Henson Recording Studios, one of the music industry’s top recording facilities known for its world-class blend of state-of-the-art and vintage equipment. The Company’s Henson Alternative brand is currently touring “Puppet-Up! – Uncensored,” a live puppet improvisational show.

Media Contacts:

Shanta Newlin, Penguin Young Readers Group

Shanta.newlin@us.penguingroup.com / 212-414-3630

Ann Schwarz, The Jim Henson Company

aschwarz@henson.com  /323-802-1667

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