Walker Books has signed M G Leonard's new middle-grade series The Twitchers, launching with Twitch in June 2021.
Executive editorial director Denise Johnstone-Burt acquired world rights for two books from Kirsty McLachlan at David Godwin Associates.
Twitch is a 12-year-old with three pet chickens, four pigeons, swallows nesting in his bedroom and a passion for bird-spotting. On the first day of summer holidays, he arrives at the local nature reserve to find police everywhere: a convicted bank-robber and murderer has broken out of prison and is hiding in Aves Wood. Twitch soon finds himself entangled in the hunt for the prisoner. Can he turn his talents for bird-spotting to detective skills, and find the missing loot?
The second title in The Twitchers series will follow in summer 2022.
Johnstone-Burt said: "I have admired Maya Leonard’s books for many years so the chance to offer her a home for her fiction at Walker was an opportunity I couldn’t miss. Her superb storytelling skills are on top form in Twitch. Fans of Beetle Boy will love this imaginative and exciting new story and all readers will be gripped by the adventures of Twitch and his birds, as he tries to track down a convict on the run."
Leonard (pictured right) commented: "So many of the books I admire, and love, are Walker books, which is why I am excited that together we will be bringing you the story of Twitch and his world of wonderful birds. My fascination with insects has spawned a love of birdwatching, and during lockdown, when I wrote this book, I found great comfort in bird-spotting walks with my binoculars and field guide. Twitch is a thrilling adventure inspired by my wonder at the genius and beauty of birds. It is about the power of friendship, and the endless rewards of having a relationship with the natural world."
Leonard's debut trilogy was published by Chicken House: Beetle Boy (2016), Beetle Queen (2017) and Battle of the Beetles (2018).