Poet Patience Agbabi has branched out into children’s fiction with a time-travelling middle grade series with Canongate.
Commissioning editor Jo Dingley acquired world rights including audio in The Infinite and another as yet untitled novel, the first two books in Agbabi’s Leap Cycle series, from Simon Trewin at Simon Trewin Ltd.
The Infinite: Leap Cycle Book One will be published in April 2020 with the second in the series coming in 2021.
Canongate said: “Elle Bibi-Imbelé Ifié is a Leapling, born on the 29th of February, a day which only exists every four years. Like all other Leaplings, including her best friend Big Ben, Elle has the ability to jump through time from one Leap Year to the next.
“On her 12th birthday Elle goes on a school trip to 2048. But when she reaches the future it isn’t only flying cars, robots and weird food she has to deal with. Leaplings are going missing, seemingly lost in time, and unless Elle can find them, the world as she knows it will cease to exist.”
Agbabi is author of four collections of award-winning poetry collections published by Canongate.
The author, who is based in Kent, said: “When I was 12, I moved from Sussex to North Wales, and it was a culture shock. Then I got into 60s Northern Soul and suddenly I fitted in. It was like travelling back in time. I dressed retro. I made friends. I wrote this novel to capture that feeling of leaping into the unknown, into that search for identity. For me, it was important to have an autistic protagonist in love with language, reflecting young people in my local community who are underrepresented in literature. This new genre and new audience exhilarated me. I had such fun writing this book: I hope kids have as much fun reading it.”
Dingley added: “The Infinite is a mind-bending, time-twisting novel which will have kids on the edges of their seats, whilst also asking big questions about the world we live in. I found it so incredibly refreshing to read a children’s novel with an autistic protagonist in which her autism is not the focus of the story. Elle is autistic, but she can also travel through time, and it’s that second facet of her personality which drives the story in The Infinite.”
Agbabi was born in London in 1965 to Nigerian parents and spent her teenage years living in North Wales. She has degrees from Oxford and Sussex Universities. She has lectured in creative writing at several UK universities and has been a fellow in creative writing at Oxford Brookes since 2008.