Bloomsbury Children's Books snaps up Kirtley debut

Bloomsbury Children's Books snaps up Kirtley debut

Bloomsbury Children’s Books will publish debut novelist Sophie Kirtley’s middle-grade adventure The Wild Way Home, billed as “an unforgettable story about courage and family” set in the Stone Age.

Ellen Holgate, UK head of fiction, and Lucy Mackay-Sim, commissioning editor, acquired world rights in a two-book deal from Nancy Miles at Miles Stott Agency. The Wild Way Home will publish in July 2020 with cover artwork by Ben Mantle, and will be followed, in 2021, by a companion title set 10 years later.

The Wild Way Home is billed by Bloomsbury as "a middle-grade Stone Age adventure full of the thrill of exploration, love for family and home, and the wild, green scent of summer". It explores "what it means to have the courage to stand by the people you love through the tough times as well as the good". The synopsis reads: "When Charlie’s baby brother is born with a heart condition, Charlie runs into the forest, upset and afraid, and finds a boy lying injured in the river. A boy as wild and strange as the familiar forest has become. For Charlie has stumbled back into the Stone Age and must strike out with the boy into the unknown to find what they have lost – their hope, their courage, their family and their way home."

Kirtley, who is from Northern Ireland, said: “The Wild Way Home is set in a forest containing the site of a Mesolithic settlement, just like the one I used to play in growing up in Northern Ireland. I can’t wait for other children to join Charlie on a Stone Age adventure like the ones I imagined as a ‘wee girl’.”

An early version of The Wild Way Home was shortlisted for the 2017 Joan Aiken Future Classics Prize. Kirtley is a prize-winning published poet, writing for both adults and children.