EXCLUSIVE: Warp Films is planning its first children’s film, after optioning Rob Lloyd Jones’ forthcoming book Wild Boy.

The story is set against a freak show in Victorian England, where a young boy investigates a murder, with “a Sherlock Holmes style talent for observation and detection.”

Warp is known for darker, more adult fare but Warp Films CEO Mark Herbert says this project is in the vein of “classic Warp outsiders.” It will be shot on a larger budget level than most Warp features.

Herbert told Screen that the book has “an amazing pace…. I got the manuscript and read it on the train [from London to Sheffield] and I sat on the train and finished it while people were cleaning up around me. It’s a page turner, so filmic  you can just see it in your head.”

He added: “There is a franchise possibility as the second book is being written now.” The first book will be published in March 2013 by Walker in the UK and Candlewick in the US.

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The film is being developed with Film4, and discussions are going on now with writers. No director is attached. A 2014 shoot is likely.

Lloyd Jones [pictured], an editor at Usborne who is repped by Conville & Walsh, has mostly written historical non-fiction and also wrote episdoes of Carlton Kids’ Bernard’s Watch. He will be involved in the process of making the film. “He knows what Victorian London smells like,” Herbert says of the author’s attention to detail.