Mistmantle Chronicles: According to Variety, Miramax has acquired U.S. publishing and film rights to "Mistmantle Chronicles," a forthcoming trilogy of children's books by Brit author Margi McAllister.

The first book in the series, "Urchin of the Riding Stars," is due for publication in spring 2005 by Miramax Books in the U.S. and by Bloomsbury in the U.K., with the second and third books due in 2006 and 2007, respectively.

Series is about a group of animals, including squirrels, otters, hedgehogs and moles, living on an island hidden in mist. Debut novel centers on Urchin, an orphaned red squirrel, who rises to meet the challenges of a kingdom under threat while learning about loyalty and friendship.

Brian B.