Torday junior hooked by Quercus

Quercus has acquired a debut children's novel by Piers Torday, son of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen author Paul Torday.

Children's editorial director Sarah Lilly, on maternity cover for Roisin Heycock, has bought UK and Commonwealth rights in the title, The Company of Animals, and one other novel, in a "hotly contested" acquisition from Jo Unwin at Conville & Walsh. Unwin said five publishers had been in the running, though no auction was held. Quercus will publish the title as a super-lead for middle-grade readers in spring 2013.  

The Company of Animals is the story of Kester, a boy who discovers the last animals on earth, and finds he can talk to them. He then must journey to take the animals to safety, and to uncover the truth about Kester's gift.

Lilly said: "The Company of Animals is an extraordinary debut novel of the kind that simply doesn't come along very often. Piers has created unforgettable characters, both human and animal, and imagined them in a truly compelling world. It is a very special book with a classic feel to it, and I believe it will stay with readers, young and old, long after they have turned the final page."