Chicken House has signed two debut novels from its one-day open submissions period, Open Coop.
Editorial director Rachel Leyshon bought world rights to Jummy at the River School directly from author Sabine Adeyinka, a middle-grade boarding school story set in Nigeria and based on the author's own experience in the late 1980s.
Leyshon commented: "I can’t wait for readers to meet the irrepressible Jummy – tiny and fierce and funny – as well as her friends at the River School. Sabine is a born storyteller for children and has created a really fresh world full of charm and intrigue."
World English rights to The Secrets Act by Alison Weatherby were acquired by senior editor Kesia Lupo from Lucy Irvine at PFD. Weatherby's debut is a YA spy thriller following two code-breaking teenage girls at Bletchley Park during World War Two.
Lupo said: "As soon as I started The Secrets Act, I was drawn into its world. The tense, drizzly atmosphere of wartime England, the trail of intriguing clues, the deepening friendships and thrilling hints of romance – what’s not to love? Alison is a fresh YA talent to watch!"
Both debuts will be published in January 2022.
Open Coop is a 24-hour open submissions period, which asks writers to submit a pitch letter and the first three chapters of a novel for children aged seven and up (and including YA) for consideration by Chicken House editors for mentorship.
Leyshon said of Open Coop: "The Open Coop is our submissions pop-up for new authors. It’s made for unpublished writers who are at the beginning of their writing careers, sometimes even at the beginning of their stories. As it’s a pop-up we love announcing it unexpectedly – some might say randomly! – and the excitement and energy this creates in the writing community. We pick projects with big ideas and child appeal – they don’t have to be polished pieces of writing – and love to spend the proper time working with our new authors all the way to publication."
A new Open Coop will be announced in August 2021.