Penguin Michael Joseph will publish James Norbury’s Big Panda and Tiny Dragon in autumn 2021.
The "beautifully illustrated" book is inspired by Buddhist philosophy, spirituality and art and will follow two best friends as they journey thorough the seasons of the year, sharing their trials, wisdom and lots of tea along the way.
The publisher acquired word rights from Ludo Cinelli at the Eve White Literary Agency. Rights have since been pre-empted in Spain, Brazil, Germany and the Netherlands.
Norbury shares his illustrations (right) with fans through Instagram, with some even being displayed at the Dalai Lama’s monastery in India, where young monks have used them to practise their English skills, says the publisher.
Daniel Bunyard, head of non-fiction at Penguin Michael Joseph, said: "I immediately fell in love with the charm and originality of James’ art as well as the goal of what he wants to achieve. As his ursine hero puts it, what perhaps matters more than the destination and even the journey itself is the company, so I’m delighted that James has chosen to trust and join us to help launch his wonderful book into the world."
Norbury commented: "I started drawing Big Panda and Tiny Dragon to spread some ideas that have helped me in difficult times, so that they might help others too. In Penguin Michael Joseph and the Eve White Literary Agency, I have found a team who share that vision and have the means to reach more people than I had ever thought possible. The opportunity to take my two characters on this journey is a dream come true."