Macmillan Children’s Books has won a middle-grade trilogy from Rob Biddulph in a "fierce" six-way auction. The first title, Peanut Jones and the Illustrated City, will be published in September 2021.
Associate publisher Sarah Hughes acquired world rights at auction from Jodie Hodges at United Agents.
This is Biddulph's first deal away from HarperCollins Children's Books, which has published the author since his debut in 2015 and most recently signed him for three books in March this year.
The new trilogy will be published on the Macmillan Children's Books fiction list at yearly intervals and will follow 12-year-old Peanut Jones, who loves drawing.
In the first book, Peanut's dad has gone missing, but she finds a pencil turbo-charged with special powers. Peanut is pulled into a world packed with more colour, creativity, excitement and danger than she could ever have imagined, and she might even find out what happened to her dad.
Hughes commented: "From the moment the proposal for Peanut Jones came in, back in those pre-Covid days, its fresh brilliance absolutely shone. It’s a tonic for anyone looking for excitement, fun, warmth and originality. Rob’s perfectly pitched storytelling and vivid characters are a delight, and when you add his stunning artwork . . . What child could resist? I know I couldn’t."
Biddulph said: "I am beyond thrilled to be working on these books with Sarah, Chris and the incredible team at Macmillan. Their ambitious plans for Peanut and the gang wowed me from the beginning, and I'm delighted to have them in my corner as I take my first tentative steps into the world of middle-grade fiction. A lot of aspects of everyday life have changed since I first wrote this story, but I think the books' themes of creativity, friendship and acceptance are more important now than they have ever been. I can't wait for you to meet these characters."
Peanut Jones and the Illustrated City will be published in September 2021 in illustrated hardback, e-book and audio.