Oneworld will make its first foray into picture books with the début children’s title from Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Junot Díaz.
Islandborn, which will be published in June under Oneworld’s Rock the Boat children’s imprint, tells the story of a young girl called Lola who emigrates to the United States from the Dominican Republic. She has no memory of her first home, but “with the help of her family and friends–and their memories–Lola's imagination takes her on an extraordinary journey back to The Island”.
The book is illustrated by Colombian-born, Utah-resident Leo Espinosa, whose work appears regularly in The New Yorker and whose previous picture book credits include Sally Lloyd-Jones’ Goldfish on Vacation and Lucy Magaret Rozier’s Jackrabbit McCabe and the Electric Telegraph (both Schwartz & Wade).
Commissioning editor Shadi Doostdar acquired UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) for Islandborn from Penguin Random House US. She said that Oneworld had been discussing getting into picture books ever since it launched Rock the Boat in 2015, and Díaz’s and Espinosa’s “heart-warming story that rejoices in our differences and our beginnings seems a perfect fit for Oneworld”.
Díaz has previously published three adult titles, Drown, This is How You Lose Her and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the last of which earned him both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award in 2008. His previous books have been released by Faber in the UK, collectively shifting 78,000 copies for £590,000 through Nielsen BookScan.
Dominican-born and New Jersey-raised, Díaz said he wanted to share the experiences of the ex-pat community. He said: “I have a lot of young people in my life whose parents are immigrants, and they may have come over when they were really young. They don’t have the memories of their place, yet they live surrounded by it.”
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