Canongate has acquired a "magical, charming and deeply moving" literary fable by Costa Prize-winning novelist A L Kennedy.
Editor Jo Dingley acquired world rights, excluding Germany - where it was originally commissioned - from Antony Harwood at Antony Harwood Ltd.
Entitled The Little Snake, the "gem" of a book is described as "a story about the journey we all take through life, about love and family, about war and resilience, about how we live in this world, and how we leave it".
It tells the story of Mary, a young girl born in a beautiful city full of rose gardens and fluttering kites. When she is still very small, Mary meets Lanmo, a shining golden snake, who becomes her very best friend. The snake visits Mary many times, he sees her city change, become sadder as bombs drop and armies march. Lanmo knows that the day will come when he can no longer visit Mary, and he wonders whether having a friend can possibly be worth the pain of knowing you will one day lose them.
Dingley said the tale had her weeping into her cornflakes. "I have continued to think of it every day since," she said further. "It has so much to tell us – about friendship, about citizenship and about living a good life. It is a beautiful, beautiful book and one which I am incredibly proud to be publishing."
Kennedy commented that she hoped it would appeal to both adults and children. "I hope that The Little Snake is a fable that adults and children can enjoy together in different ways and remember that endings are a part of life and a reason to treasure it," said Kennedy. "We had fun with the book in Germany, where it was commissioned, and I’m delighted to be working with Canongate on the book in the UK."
Canongate will publish The Little Snake in hardback in November 2018.