Macmillan Children's Publishing Group has swooped for Promise Boys, the debut YA thriller by award-winning filmmaker Nick Brooks, in a seven-figure pre-empt.
Henry Holt Books for Young Readers and Macmillan UK jointly acquired world English rights for Promise Boys. Joanna Volpe of New Leaf Literary & Media brokered the deal on behalf of Cake Creative. More details about the UK publication are to follow.
Promise Boys tells the story of three boys at an urban charter school investigating their principal’s murder during a high-stakes day. It is billed as “a page-turning, murder mystery thriller that shines a light on themes of social justice and educational inequities”.
The synopsis explains: “Promise Boys is set at Urban Promise Preparatory School, which promises to turn boys into men, plucking inner-city youths from their homes for around-the-clock academics, sports and extracurriculars. But when the principal ends up dead and the cops come sniffing around, a trio of friends come face-to-face with a slew of rotten secrets about the school, the community, their teachers and especially themselves.”
“This is the most important, most groundbreaking submission I've read in my entire career,” said Brian Geffen, senior editor at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. “It’s a book that is essential for today's reader, but also has the potential to be an influential part of the literary canon for decades to come.”
Brooks' short film “Hoop Dreamin'" earned him the George Lucas Scholar Award and was recognised by film festivals around the world. His newest film “Bee” earned him the James Bridges and Jack Larson Award for Writing and Directing. Prior to becoming a filmmaker, Brooks worked as an educator with at-risk youth, and Promise Boys is a reflection of his first-hand experience of “how the system can condemn these boys to failure before they have even had a chance at success”.
He said: “Promise Boys is a classic whodunit that mystery fans will love. But even more than that it’s a social thriller, told through the perspective of Black and Brown boys, that highlights the inequity in our education system. This is a story that needs to be told, to speak for our kids who far too often are unable to advocate for themselves, and to inspire them to tell their own story."
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