Walker Books has bought world rights to nine picture books by author Smriti Halls, in a deal with Jodie Hodges at United Agents.
The first book, Welcome to Your World, described as “a stunning celebration of new life and our precious natural world”, will be published simultaneously in March 2020. The book will be illustrated by Jamie Kim, with illustration rights acquired from Claire Easton at Painted Words.
Following in October 2020 will be Rain Before Rainbows, illustrated by David Litchfield (illustration rights acquired from Anne Moore Armstrong at The Bright Agency). “Told in beautifully spare and lyrical language, Rain Before Rainbows provides the irrepressible hope that even though it’s sometimes hard to see out of the darkness, there’s always a way through to the light,” Walker said.
Two pop-out surprise picture books for very young children will follow in 2021, illustrated by Edward Underwood of the Lisa Jones Studio, alongside four lift-the-flap board books illustrated by Marta Altes. In both cases illustration rights were acquired directly from the illustrators.
The last book in the deal will be Not That Pet!, a story said to be inspired by Smriti’s own family, also published in 2021 and illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw (illustration rights acquired from Heather Richards at Tallbean).
Senior commissioning editor Lizzie Sitton said: “It is so joyful to be making books for children with Smriti – a writer with wonderful integrity and warmth. And it is exciting to have paired her stories and ideas with the finest of artists to bring them to life.”
Halls said she had been “encouraged and inspired” by Walker’s enthusiasm for her stories, adding: “I’m also hugely excited to be creating books with some of the most brilliant illustrators—artists whose work is breathtakingly beautiful, playful, and downright delicious. I hope these books will bring joy to all who discover them.”
Halls, who also writes as Smriti Pasadam-Halls, worked in children’s publishing and television before becoming a full-time writer, and has now been published in more than 30 languages worldwide. She lives in London.