Oxford University Press has snapped up the stand-alone debut children’s novel from BBC Sports reporter Joe Wilson in a two-book deal.
Senior commissioning editor Clare Whitston has acquired world rights from Becky Bagnell at Lindsay Literary Agency for two middle grade books by Wilson for a five figure sum. The Island That Didn't Exist will publish in May 2020 and another title will publish May 2021.
“When twelve-year-old Rixon’s great-uncle Silvester leaves him an island in his will, Rixon can’t quite believe it,” reads the synopsis. “But the island only exists on an ancient map, and can only be seen with a massive magnifying glass. Is it really there? When Rixon sets off for answers a classic adventure story ensues with wild children, scientific secrets and a battle to protect the future of the planet.”
Wilson, who has been a journalist for more than 20 years, said: “Our World is still full of islands; uncounted, unaccounted for and – apparently - uninhabited. Any one of them could be the perfect place to hide something or, indeed, someone. But what if you wanted to hide the island itself? From this imaginary starting point came my story. I wanted to write a classic adventure, which also touched on society's most current, pressing themes. Twenty years as a sports journalist and broadcaster has taught me the supreme importance of telling an exciting story; why else are we obsessed with sport if not for the sudden twists of fortune? And when it comes to books, what else really matters except the excitement of turning the next page?”
Whitston added: “The Island That Didn't Exist has all the hallmarks of a classic adventure story. Joe writes with such a fizzing energy that I defy anyone not to get swept along by the story of Rixon and his mysterious island.”