HC Children's Books wins auction for debut

HarperCollins Children's Books has beaten six other publishers to win rights to two books by debut author Sarah Lean.

In what the publisher described as a "hotly contested auction", publishing director Rachel Denwood bought UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, from Julia Churchill at Greenhouse Literary Agency.

The first book, A Dog Called Homeless, will be published in May 2012. The publisher said the book was about a girl called Cally who stops talking after no-one believes she has seen her dead mother. The only other living thing that sees her is a grey wolfhound which appears every time her mum does.

Denwood said: "I couldn't be more thrilled to be publishing A Dog Called Homeless, a novel that steals the hearts of all who read it. Rarely does a book connect in such a profound and moving way. I have no doubt that Sarah Lean is a future star whose work will captivate young readers as it has captivated everyone at HarperCollins."

In the US, HarperCollins senior editor Sarah Sumway pre-empted for North American rights from Sarah Davies at Greenhouse Literary Agency. Lean will be published on the Katherine Tegen Books imprint.