Puffin UK has snapped up the first fiction book from writer and social advocate Yassmin Abdel-Magied.
Ruth Knowles, publisher at Penguin Random House Children’s, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding ANZ, from Nerrilee Weir, senior rights manager at Penguin Random House Australia. You Must Be Layla will publish in February 2020.
Described as "warm and funny", the pre-teen book follows schoolgirl Layla. "With her long skirt and headscarf Layla certainly stands out at her new school. Everyone thinks they know her, just from a glance. But do they? Layla's determined to show everyone that she does deserve her scholarship and sets her sights on winning the big robotics invention competition," reads the synopsis. "Layla will need to come to terms with who she is and who she wants to be if she has any chance of succeeding."
Knowles said: “Yassmin is an inspiring and exciting talent and force for change, and we are delighted to welcome her and her debut novel for young people to Puffin UK. Layla isn’t someone we yet see often enough in books for our young people and so we are proud and pleased to give this sparky, incredibly loveable character and her story the chance to charm and entertain fans of Jacqueline Wilson and readers of books like Ella on the Outside.”
Abdel-Magied is a 28-year-old Sudanese-born Australian mechanical engineer, writer and social advocate who lives in London. Her TED talk, What Does My Headscarf Mean to You?, has been viewed over two million times and was chosen as one of TED’s top ten ideas of 2015. Her writing has appeared in many publications including Teen Vogue, the Evening Standard and the Guardian. She also contributed an essay to Mariam Khan's It’s Not about the Burqa (Picador). You Must Be Layla was published earlier this year by Penguin in Australia.
She added: “You Must Be Layla came from a place of wanting to create and share a character that I hadn’t seen in books growing up: a young, Sudanese-Australian kid who was just trying to live her best life. Layla’s story talks to the relatable dramas of family, friendship and school, but also notes the racism and islamophobia that many young people must take into their stride as part of the diaspora experience. I’m so excited to bring You Must Be Layla to the UK with Puffin: to be able to share a book that is so close to my heart through a publisher with such history, reach and passion for story is a dream come true!”