Scholastic has won a "heated" auction for a middle-grade debut about an 11-year-old with a stammer who wants to become a stand-up comedian.
The book, called The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh, is by Bolton-based writer Helen Rutter, who previously worked as an actor and whose own son has a stammer.
Lauren Fortune, editorial director at Scholastic UK, praised the voice of "engaging and endearing" central character Billy. She added his story will "start conversations, promote kindness and empathy and hugely entertain while doing so".
After striking the deal for UK and Commonwealth rights, Scholastic will publish in February 2021. North American rights have also sold to David Levithan, publisher and editorial director at Scholastic US, where the book will publish at the same time. Both deals were negotiated by Chloe Seager at the Madeleine Milburn Agency.
Liane-Louise Smith, foreign rights director at Madeleine Milburn, has sold German and Dutch rights and French rights have been pre-empted.