Children who are regular visitors to McDonald's are used to finding a cheap, plastic toy in their Happy Meals. From today, they will uncover something rather more high-brow: a Michael Morpurgo novel.
The fast-food chain is giving away nine million copies of books from Morpurgo's Muddlepuddle Farm series, with proceeds going to the author's charity Farms for City Children.
Morpurgo – whose book War Horse has just been made into an Oscar-tipped film – admitted he had to consider being involved with a fast-food restaurant, but the lure of helping so many children discover books was one he could not ignore.
"It is so important to get children into books and to ingrain a love of literature. If that starts in a McDonald's, that's fine by me," he said.