Published in 1935, Masefield's story centres on a 12-year-old boy, Kay Harker, who is entrusted with a magical box that allows him to time travel, shrink in size and move with incredible speed, but also puts him in jeopardy. Frank Cottrell Boyce, who wrote A Cock and Bull Story and 24 Hour Party People, is adapting the novel.
This is not the first time that the Masefield book is making the transfer from the page to another medium: there was a popular 1940s BBC radio adaptation, which Newell revealed was where he first came across the story. "I was immediately seduced by the tingling, opening harp music and the fantastical, mysterious, magic story that followed," he told Variety.
There was also the 1984 live-action-and-animated BBC TV version, starring Patrick Troughton and Robert Stephens, with Devan Stanfield as the young boy Kay, which has become a cult classic. According to Wikipedia, as an adult, Devin Stanfield went on to do behind-the-scenes work in the theatre.
Newell, who is currently completing work on the movie of the Prince of Persia videogame, has form with children's fantasy adaptations. He directed the fourth film in the Harry Potter series, 2005's Goblet of Fire, which enjoyed a good reception from both critics and fans alike.