Bloomsbury Children’s Books has acquired three "game-changing" middle-grade books by Ben Bailey Smith.
Head of children’s fiction Ellen Holgate acquired world rights, excluding North America, in three books from Robert Kirby at United Agents.
Provisionally titled Ha Ha, Car, "the first book is the story of Carmichael Taylor, a kid who always sees the funny side of life, but can’t understand why no one else does. All that changes at the school talent show when, instead of reading the poem he wrote, Car delivers a scathing stand-up routine about school, his parents, his brother, life, the universe and everything. It makes him a viral internet sensation and, pretty soon, the world’s youngest stand-up comedian. But Car’s growing fame comes with a whole new set of problems – which he’ll have to find answers to in hilarious and heartfelt style," reads the synopsis. It will be published in spring 2021.
Publication of the "game-changing" books will be supported by a major sales, marketing and publicity campaign to launch Bailey Smith onto the middle-grade scene, Bloomsbury Children's said. This includes appearances at major literary and family festivals, nationwide advertising and high-profile media activity.
Beginning life as underground rapper Doc Brown, Bailey Smith has moved into TV and film acting, stand up, screenwriting and children’s books. He has appeared in various shows including "Law & Order", "The Inbetweeners" and "Midsomer Murders" and is known for his ongoing work with Ricky Gervais. He is also the author of the picture books I Am Bear and Bear Moves published by Walker Books and the young fiction title Get a Move On! published by Bloomsbury.
Holgate said: "Ben’s pitch for this book was a show-stopper. His experience of events with hundreds of kids means he is perfectly placed to write for nine to 12s – he totally gets what makes them laugh and cry. It’s funny, immediate, big-hearted storytelling and these stellar books are set to become a yearly publishing event."
Bailey Smith added: "Since the days of sitting under my duvet with a torch reading The BFG way into the witching hour, I've wondered if I could write something substantial for children with the same crazy dreams as me i.e. all kids. Now, amazingly, Bloomsbury have given me that opportunity and I am beyond excited. Car’s story – a book about a dream come true – is a dream come true."