Simon & Schuster Children's is to publish Nadia Shireen's first middle-grade series, Grimwood, after winning a heated six-publisher auction.
Publishing director Ali Dougal signed a deal for world rights in three books from Jo Unwin at the Jo Unwin Literary Agency. Dougal said: "It’s not often that a key character is introduced in the first chapter of a book for young middle-grade readers and then has its head bitten off three pages later, but that sets the tone for Grimwood, which is just one of the reasons I’m deeply, madly in love with it. Nadia is already a star, and her subversive humour is perfect for children of this age, who love to be taken by surprise. I truly believe Grimwood has the potential to be a game-changing series for this readership."
The synopsis explains: "Riotously funny and subversive with a warm heart, Grimwood turns the classic animal tale on its head. The series stars urban fox cubs Sid and Nancy, who are being run out of the only home they’ve ever known by terrifying stray cat, Princess Buttons. They must leave behind the joys of food scavenged from the local Speedy Chicken to find shelter. But when they arrive at woodland hideout Grimwood, they discover that life in the country isn’t all peace and quiet."
The series will be a lead launch for autumn 2021, publishing in format and fully illustrated throughout by Shireen. Future titles will be published at six-monthly intervals.
The press is also releasing Shireen on their picture book list, in a new partnership with Rachel Bright.
Shireen's debut picture book, Good Little Wolf (2011), received a mention in the Bologna Ragazzi Opera Prima Award and won the UKLA Book Award. Other books include The Bumblebear (2015), which was distributed to over 700,000 children as part of Booktrust’s Time To Read campaign, as well as Billy and the Beast (2018) and Billy and the Dragon (2019). Shireen has been shortlisted for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, and has been Writer-Illustrator in Residence for BookTrust.
She said: "Ever since I was told off in double maths for doodling sheep in my exercise book, I knew my destiny lay in drawing and writing ridiculous animal stories. I hope the Grimwood books will make children laugh (and maybe cry, but in a nice way.) I’m over the moon to be working with S&S, who have been wildly enthusiastic from the off. I mean, I thought it was probably a good sign when the whole team dressed up as Grimwood characters on our first Zoom call. My nose is shiny and my tail is wagging–let’s go!"