Scholastic bags Afro-futurist adventure series in nine-way auction

Scholastic bags Afro-futurist adventure series in nine-way auction

Scholastic has bagged Future Hero, an Afro-futurist series authored by a number of Black British writers, after triumphing in a "fiercely contested" nine-way auction.

Inclusive fiction studio Storymix founder Jasmine Richards is helming the project, bringing together writers under the pseudonym Remi Blackwood to create the adventure series. The stories will explore the magic and mythology of the African diaspora. The first title, Future Hero: Race to Fire Mountain, will be illustrated throughout by artist Alicia Robinson.

Commissioning editor at Scholastic UK Yasmin Morrissey acquired UK and Commonwealth rights and translation rights to four books in the series from Storymix. Scholastic US senior editor Mallory Kass acquired North American rights from Allison Hellegers at Stimola Literary Studio, on behalf of Storymix, making this a "major global launch" for Scholastic.

Aimed at readers aged 7+, the first book will publish in May 2022. The synopsis explains: "When Jarell discovers that the fantasy world he is obsessed with doodling is actually real, he is launched into an incredible adventure through the mirror in his cousin’s barber shop. Ulfrika, the land of his ancestors, is in trouble and he is the hero they need. He must stop the evil sorcerer Ikala: the future of Ulfrika depends on it."

Richards said: "The idea for this series started with the barber shop and what a transformational place this can be for Black boys. I wanted to investigate that and celebrate that. I also wanted to explore the relationship that children of the African diaspora might have with the mythology of their ancestors. I wanted to open up this rich story world for them and for all children."

Morrissey commented: "Younger middle grade has been crying out for more diverse heroes, and that’s exactly what we’ve found in Jarell and Future Hero. This is a winning blend of future tech gadgets and a fantasy world inspired by the mythology of the African diaspora, where an ordinary boy is chosen to save the day. The second Jasmine pitched this story to me, I knew it was must-have for our list and for young readers across the globe. Get ready, everyone: a new hero is coming."

Kass added: “The idea of a boy finding a portal to a magical world in his local barber shop grabbed me from the first page, and it's been wonderful watching Storymix bring the project to life. They have unmatched insight into what today's young readers want, and their commitment to discovering and developing new talent is going to be a game changer.”