Simon & Schuster Children’s Books has snapped up two new picture books from author-illustrator Benji Davies (pictured).
The first title will revisit the world of The Storm Whale, publishing in autumn 2023 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the original story. Helen Mackenzie Smith, Picture Books editorial director, acquired world rights for both the new Storm Whale picture book and a further untitled work from Arabella Stein at The Bright Agency.
The Storm Whale won the inaugural Oscar’s Book Prize in 2014 and has now been sold in 40 languages by the Simon & Schuster rights team. Subsequent adventures from the world of The Storm Whale are The Storm Whale in Winter and Grandma Bird. Sales of the series have now topped a million copies worldwide, according to the publisher. His second picture book, Grandad's Island, won the children’s book category of the AOI World Illustration Awards 2015 and was crowned Best Picture Book and overall Children’s Book of the Year at the Sainsbury’s Children’s Book Awards 2015. Davies has sold 291,876 books for £1.6m, with The Storm Whale his bestseller on 80,026 copies sold in paperback, through Nielsen Bookscan TCM.
Commenting on the deal, he said: "When I’m working on new stories, Noi and his six cats are never far from my thoughts. The tenth anniversary of The Storm Whale is the perfect opportunity for their story to unfold a little more — I’m so excited that Helen and the team at S&S thought so too!"
Managing director Rachel Denwood said: "There is a special place for Benji Davies at the heart of Simon & Schuster Children’s Books’ renowned picture books list. When Helen did this deal there were cheers and tears. This is a hugely significant acquisition for S&S."
Mackenzie Smith added: "We are unbelievably excited to be publishing two new picture books with the brilliant Benji Davies. Benji’s books conjure up such a special, heart-warming magic. And how lucky we all are to return to the world of the Storm Whale. I can’t wait!"