Emma Layfield, Hachette Children's Group picture book development director (North), has acquired three picture books from spoken-word poet Tony Walsh as her first acquisition in her new role in Hachette's Manchester office.
The first two titles, Girls Can and Boys Can, will "present a colourful world of possibilities for all children with big dreams". It will be published simultaneously in hardback in spring 2023, with the paperbacks following in summer 2023.
The third title in the deal, Kids Like Us, is "a marching cry for children to be recognised as the hopes of our future" and will be published in hardback in spring 2024, with a paperback to follow in summer 2024.
Audio editions of all three titles will be read by Walsh and published alongside the hardbacks.
Layfield said: "I’m looking for exciting, diverse new picture book writers from the North and Tony Walsh perfectly fits the bill. He’s a big-hearted, honest, funny, working-class performance poet from Manchester and his writing speaks directly to young children. His live gigs leave audiences on their feet and I know his picture books are going to be just as inspirational."
Walsh commented: "It's great news that Hachette UK is opening an office in the North and tapping into the wealth and breadth of talent up here. I'm honoured and thrilled to be Emma Layfield’s first signing and I look forward to working with such an expert team."
Walsh is a Manchester-based spoken word poet who is an ambassador for National Poetry Day UK and a former poet-in-residence for Glastonbury Festival. He is known for poems such as "This is the Place", which made headlines in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing.
Photography: Emma Freeman Portraits