Cornerstone imprint Arrow has acquired the debut adult novel from Carnegie-nominated children's author Eve Ainsworth.
Editor Sonny Marr bought world rights in Duckling from Laura Williams at Greene & Heaton.
Duckling tells the story of 30-year-old Lucy, whose life is small. Every day she goes to work, checks in on her unstable father, then spends her evenings watching "Columbo" reruns, isolating herself away from the rest of the community on her South London estate. So, when her new neighbour asks Lucy if she could look after her seven-year-old daughter Rubi, she is reluctant to agree. As the days pass and Rubi’s mum doesn’t come back, Lucy’s worst-case scenario is now her reality. She is not only responsible for herself anymore—she is responsible for a scared little girl who needs her help.
Marr said: "Duckling is a moving story about loneliness, community, and the walls we build around ourselves in order to feel safe. More than just a brilliant mystery, Duckling is an incredibly special book, one which will leave you wanting to hold onto your loved ones just that little bit longer."
West Sussex-based Ainsworth is the author of several books for middle-grade and teen readers and has previously been published by Scholastic and Barrington Stoke.
She said: "I'm so delighted to have my first adult book published by Penguin Random House, as it's always been a dream of mine. To find an editor like Sonny who champions my book with such passion and belief is the icing on the cake. I'm so glad Duckling will have a chance to fly!"
Arrow will publish Duckling in e-book and paperback in spring 2022.