Penguin Random House UK Children’s has notched up its 20th deal for Sabina Radeva’s originally crowdfunded reimagining of Charles Darwin’s On the Origins of Species.
On the eve of the fair, PRH senior rights manager Maeve Banham concluded a Russian auction, won by Machaon, a division of the Azbooka-Atticus Publishing Group. Other languages the title has been sold into include German, Chinese (Simplified), Korean and Italian; PRH said there is “intense interest” in the title from publishers across a slew of other territories.
Banham said: “It is incredibly rare to see such a strong international reaction to a book, right from the very start. Sabina’s academic rigour and beautiful artwork has sparked a phenomenal response from publishers across the world—including countries where evolution is still a topic of debate.”
Molecular biologist-turned-illustrator Radeva was inspired to make an accessible children’s book on evolution after re-reading Darwin’s original title. She initially wanted to self-publish and raised £49,000 on Kickstarter, despite only having an initial funding target of £1,900. She later decided to publish traditionally to find a wider global audience, with agent Veronique Baxter at David Higham Associates striking a deal for world rights through Puffin commissioning editor Anna Barnes.
Banham said non-fiction would be a focus for PRH at Bologna, and it was fielding offers for a raft of new acquisitions, including the “accessible, irreverent” Parents: A User’s Guide, the first children’s book from Dean Burnett, the neurologist author of The Happy Brain; Natural History Museum illustrator Ben Rothery’s kids’/adult crossover title Hidden Planet; and The Ladybird Big Book of Dead Things by Ned Hartley and Binny Talib, a “funny, fact-filled” look at extinct species for kids aged six and over.