HarperCollins Children’s Books has signed two novels by middle-grade author Nicola Skinner.
Fiction publishing director Nick Lake acquired world rights from Silvia Molteni at PFD, in a deal which also sees US rights sold to HarperCollins US.
Skinner launched her writing career for middle-grade readers with the acclaimed Guardian Book of the Year Bloom, and her second novel Storm was recently nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal. Both were released by HarperCollins.
Starboard, the first title in the new deal, tells the story of Kirsten, an apparently happy and successful 11-year-old reality TV star who meets a ship that comes alive and is claimed by it as its new captain as it breaks free from its dry dock. The publisher said: “Inspired by the true history of the "SS Great Britain", Starboard is about the friendship, heroism and bravery that you can find in others, whether they’re made of flesh or iron. It’s about taking control of your own life and going on epic adventures. But most of all, it’s about finding out who you really dare to be, when you’re completely out of your depth.”
Starboard will be published in hardback in April 2021 with simultaneous e-book and audio publication.
Lake said: “Nicola Skinner writes books unlike anything else, which has defined her as a fresh and original new voice in children’s books. Starboard took me totally by surprise… and then thrilled me, delighted me, made me laugh, and in the end even made me cry. I’ve never read anything like it. It is a spectacular, inspiring, child-focused story from a unique talent. I am so proud to launch it from the quayside – and to continue our relationship with a writer who, like our list, will always chart new storytelling territory.”
Nicola Skinner said: “Every time I visit the 'SS Great Britain', I see first-hand how she enchants schoolchildren. There are always some clearly under her spell, who, like me, are convinced the ship has one more journey left to make... The greatest gift a writer can have is freedom to explore, get lost, try again, make it better, and someone who believes in your story throughout. I’m extremely lucky to have that with Nick and HCCB and can’t wait for children to discover the magic (and secrets) of Starboard.”