Macmillan Children’s Books has snapped up middle-grade writer Emma Carroll's "irresistible" sequel to Eva Ibbotson’s classic Journey to the River Sea (MCB).
Sarah Hughes, associate publisher for children’s fiction, bought world English rights for Escape to the River Sea from Jodie Hodges at United Agents and from Stephanie Thwaites at Curtis Brown on behalf of the Ibbotson Estate. It will be published in hardback in May 2022.
Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson was first published in 2001 and went on to win the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize and was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Whitbread Award and the Blue Peter Book Award. Through Nielsen BookScan it has sold 296,090 print copies for £1.6m in the UK.
Hughes said: “It’s hard to think of a better person to write the sequel to Eva Ibbotson’s beloved masterpiece. Emma Carroll’s extraordinary gift for gripping, evocative historical adventure is a perfect fit, and she revisits the world and characters of Journey to the River Sea with delicacy and skill, creating a story that is completely irresistible and classic in its own right.”
A full-colour illustrated 20th anniversary hardback gift edition of Journey to the River Sea will be published in October 2021, illustrated in colour by Katie Hickey. Hickey also created the new cover for the paperback 20th anniversary edition, which was released in May 2021 with an introduction by Carroll. Rachel Vale, Children’s fiction art director at Macmillan Children’s Books agreed the deal with Hickey’s agent, Helen Boyle at Pickled Ink.
The sequel's synopsis explains: “In 1946, Rosa Sweetman, a young Kindertransport girl, is longing for her family to claim her. The war in Europe is over and she is the only child left at Westwood, a rambling country estate in the north of England, where she’d taken refuge seven years earlier. The arrival of a friend of the family, Yara Fielding, starts an adventure that will take Rosa deep into the beauty of the Amazon rainforest in search of jaguars, ancient giant sloths and somewhere to belong. Featuring places and characters known and loved by fans of Journey to the River Sea, including Maia, Finn, Miss Minton and Clovis, this spectacular new chapter in the story tells of the next generation and the growing threats to the Amazon rainforest that continue to this day.”
Carroll commented: “Eva's stories are all absolute jewels, though River Sea is a personal favourite of mine. So when Macmillan proposed a sequel it was such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I couldn't refuse. I'm so excited – and slightly nervous! – to share my take on what happens next for Maia and Finn's descendants in the Amazon. Working on the project has been a joy.”
Lalage Bosanquet, Ibbotson’s daughter, commented: “Following the tremendous success of Journey to the River Sea over the past 20 years we couldn't think of a more perfect author than Emma Carroll to write a sequel to Eva's classic story. So many of our well-known and successful children's authors remember being inspired by the book as a child. It is a great tribute to have Emma Carroll's sequel which we hope will enthuse a new generation of young readers.”