HarperCollins has announced it has preempted rights to a three-book middle-grade series by director Chris Columbus, to be called House of Secrets. Columbus, the director of two Harry Potter movies and many other films, will co-author the books with YA writer Ned Vizzini (It's Kind of a Funny Story). The first book is slated for spring 2013.

The deal for North American rights was negotiated by Alessandra Balzer, co-publisher of the Balzer + Bray imprint at HarperCollins Children's Books, with Dorian Karchmar at William Morris Endeavor. U.K. and Commonwealth rights were acquired by Rachel Denwood, publishing director at HarperCollins Children's Books, from Cathryn Summerhayes at William Morris Endeavor. Rights have been sold in 12 foreign territories so far.

The series is about the Pagett kids, who had a big house in San Francisco and everything they could want, until their father lost his job. Now the family moves into the mysterious Kristoff House, built a century earlier by a writer with a penchant for the occult. The Pagett siblings find themselves on an epic journey to retrieve a book of untold power and to uncover their family's secret history.