Chicken House has acquired a debut novel, The Elephant Thief, by Jane Kerr following a three-way auction.
David Smith at Annette Green Authors’ Agency sold world English language rights to Barrie Cunningham at Chicken House, who will publish in 2017. French rights have been acquired by Bayard Jeunesse.
The book, a tale "of fear and friendship, of danger and triumph" aimed at the 9-12 age group, is based on the true story of a remarkable marketing stunt in 1872 when an elephant called Maharajah was ridden all the way from Edinburgh Waverley Station to its new owner’s zoo in Manchester.
Cunningham called it "a modern classic, in the tradition of The Railway Children" while Smith said “it’s a perfect children’s novel, utterly gripping for the young but equally compelling for adults readers. I read it in one sitting and fell in love with it".
Kerr is a producer for BBC Radio at the corporation’s Manchester operation.