A debut YA novel, a dyslexia-friendly version of Of Mice and Men, and a book by a Private Eye cartoonist were among the titles bought and sold as Bologna Book Fair kicked off.
Bloomsbury bought world rights to a YA novel by début author Karen Gregory on the first day of the fair yesterday (Monday 4th April). Gregory’s Countless is about a girl called Hedda who decides to call a truce with her eating disorder, which she calls “Nia”, when she finds out that she is pregnant. Publishing director Rebecca McNally acquired world rights in a two-book deal from Claire Wilson at Rogers, Coleridge & White. Publication of the title is scheduled for May 2017.
Meanwhile Bloomsbury Children’s has sold Letters to the Lost, a Young Adult fiction title by Brigid Kemmerer, in four territories: the Netherlands, Spain, Latin American (Spanish-language) and Serbia. The publisher also expects to close deals with publishers from Brazil, Germany and France at the fair. Bloomsbury bought world rights from Mandy Hubbard at D4EO Literary Agency.
Anne Clark at the Anne Clark Literary Agency sold three books to Oxford University Press ahead of the opening of this year’s fair. World rights were sold in Middle Grade thriller Stunt Double and another, as-yet-untitled book by Tamsin Cooke; and Lucy’s Magical Surprise, an animal story for younger readers written by Anne Booth.
Barrington Stoke will publish a dyslexia-friendly version of John Steinbeck’s classic novel Of Mice and Men after agreeing a sub-licensing deal with Penguin Random House. The accessible version, due for release in September, will be printed on a tinted background, with large-print text and spacing. Barrington Stoke said it “may consider” publishing accessible versions of more classic novels in the future.
Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency has sold two YA novels by American début author R M Romero to Random House US for a six-figure sum. Beverly Horowitz, publisher of RH imprint Delacorte Press, snapped up The Dollmaker of Kraków in a two-book deal for North American rights just one day after the title was sent out on submission. The Bent Agency’s Gemma Cooper, who is representing Romero’s book in the UK, called The Dollmaker of Kraków a “timeless historic fantasy in the tradition of [Marcus Zusak’s] The Book Thief. It’s a fusion of fairytales, rich Slavic folklore and history, and stresses the importance of creativity and love in times of great pain.”
OUP has inked a deal for three picture books from Birmingham-born “doodle” artist Jon Burgerman, whose distinctive, colourful drawings are a hit on Instagram and have been used in advertising campaigns for the likes of Nike, Sony and Rip Curl. OUP commissioning editor Peter Marley bought world rights from Paul Moreton of Bell Lomax Moreton, and will publish the first book, Splat!, in summer 2017.
Michael O’Mara imprint Buster Books will publish a pop-up science book by Private Eye cartoonist Mike Barfield above, whose Apparently… comic strip has appeared in the fortnightly satirical magazine since 1996. Barfield said Destroy this Book in the Name of Science is a “hands-on, creative book that will encourage kids to carry out experiments with nothing more complicated than a copy of my book and a stick of glue”. Buster publishing director Philippa Wingate acquired world rights from Anne Clark of the Anne Clark Literary Agency.
Irish comedian David O’Doherty and illustrator Chris Judge’s Danger is Everywhere was sold into Slovenia on the eve of the fair, meaning the series is now available in 15 languages. Zosia Knopp, Puffin UK rights director, said: “We are thrilled to be helping the world’s greatest (and only) Dangerologist share his survival tips with children across the globe.” O’Doherty and Judge have published two books in the series since 2014, selling over 31,000 units in the UK.
Producers Simon Brooks and Joan Singleton have acquired the film rights to The White Giraffe by Lauren St John (Orion Children’s Books). Canyon Creek Films’ Brooks and Singleton, of 8790 Pictures, struck the deal with Catherine Clarke at Felicity Bryan Associates and Rebecca Watson at Valerie Hoskins Associates. Brooks and Singleton will co-produce; Singleton will write the script; and Tim Hill, whose feature film credits include “Muppets from Space”, has signed up to direct. Canyon Creek Films bought the film rights to another St John title, The Glory, in 2015.
Scottish publisher Floris Books has bought a teen thriller by J A Henderson. The book, as yet untitled, is an “ironic story of subterfuge, teamwork and artificial intelligence gone wrong”. Senior commissioning editor Eleanor Collins acquired UK, Commonwealth and translation rights from the Anne Clark Literary Agency. Edinburgh-based Henderson has previously published 12 children’s novels, the bulk of them through OUP.
Simon & Schuster UK has bought two further Middle Grade novels by Abi Elphinstone, author of The Dreamsnatcher. The first book will be the final title in the trilogy that started with The Dreamsnatcher in 2015 which was followed by The Shadow Keeper in February this year. The second book in the deal will start a new series, as yet untitled, set in a magical kingdom of snow and ice. Jane Griffiths, senior commissioning editor at S&S UK, bought world rights from Hannah Sheppard at the D H H Literary Agency.
Chicken House has sold world Spanish and Catalan rights to The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol. Rights director Elinor Bagenal struck a three-book deal with Barcelona-based La Galera. The Apprentice Witch follows Arianwyn, a girl who messes up her witch apprenticeship and, as a result, is sent to protect the remote and boring town of Lull, where a “mysterious darkness” begins to haunt her. The book will be released in the UK in July; rights have also sold to Germany, France and North America.