Andersen Press has acquired the 20th children's novel from Phil Earle.
When the Sky Falls will be Earle's first title with Andersen and will be published in June 2021. The novel will mark a decade of Earle's life as an author as his debut, Being Billy, was published by Penguin in 2011.
Publishing director Charlie Sheppard acquired world rights for two books from Jodie Hodges at United Agents. The second book in the deal will be published in 2022.
The synopsis for When the Sky Falls reads: "Based on a true story, When the Sky Falls is set in 1941, as war rages on. One angry boy has been sent to the city, where bombers rule the skies. There, Joseph will live with Mrs F, a gruff woman with no fondness for children. Her only loves are the rundown zoo she owns and its mighty silverback gorilla, Adonis. As the weeks pass, bonds deepen and secrets are revealed, but if the bombers set Adonis rampaging free, will Mrs F or Joseph be able to end the life of the one thing they truly love?"
The title has been designated a Waterstones "one to watch" for 2021 and will be accompanied by a "major" marketing and publicity campaign from Andersen Press.
Sheppard commented: "Working with Phil has been a highlight of 2020 for me. A ray of hope and a reminder of challenging times in our country’s history that were endured and overcome. I’m delighted to be bringing him and his wonderful new novel to the Andersen list."
Earle said: "Although it feels surreal to have been published for 10 years now, I couldn’t be prouder that When the Sky Falls will be my twentieth book, or happier that it will be published by Andersen Press. The passion everyone there has shown for Joseph and Adonis’s story has been overwhelming, and although it’s always nerve-wracking when your book travels out in the world, I honestly couldn’t be more excited."
Earle's most recent titles include Get Me Out of Here! (Scholastic, 2020), The Unlucky Eleven (Barrington Stoke, 2019) and Scaredy Cat, Scaredy Cat (Orion Children's Books, 2017).