Two Hoots has landed Sir Michael Morpurgo’s “timely” picture book A Song of Gladness, with illustrations from Kate Greenaway Medal winner Emily Gravett.
Two Hoots publisher Suzanne Carnell and Alyx Price, associate publisher at Macmillan Children’s Books, bought rights for the text from Veronique Baxter at David Higham Associates. Carnell commissioned illustrator Emily Gravett from Philippa Milnes-Smith at The Soho Agency. Both deals are for world rights and the book is released in May 2021.
The publisher said: “The text and illustrations take the reader on a vivid journey across the globe, with an urgent and important reminder of our interconnectedness, from a blackbird in a Devon garden to leopards in the African savanna, encouraging children to value the natural world and their own place within it.”
Publication of A Song of Gladness will be supported by major marketing and publicity campaigns across consumer and trade channels including a partnership with Empathy Lab to create resources for schools. In addition, a proportion of Michael's royalties will be donated to Farms for City Children.
Morpurgo explained: “That the future of the planet, and the survival of humanity, depends on us and our children can be no longer in doubt. We may be already too locked into our world of expansion, and exploitation and speed and greed, to change the habits of centuries. Let’s hope not. But hope is not enough. First we have to care, to feel that each one of us is part of this earth, that this earth is precious and fragile, that every plant and creature matters as much as we do. But we will not care unless we feel we belong, and to do that we need to know the wild world about us at first hand, to walk in it, breathe it in, marvel at it, look after it. More and more it is the children who are leading the way, Greta Thunberg, amongst them. They are clear-sighted, and determined. It is their world we have been and are still destroying. We have to listen to them. Theirs is not a cry for help, it is a cry of pain, a wakeup call for us all. And this Song of Gladness is written in solidarity with them, a song to bring hope, and to cheer them on their way."
Gravett said: “I’m over the moon to be working with Michael Morpurgo illustrating A Song of Gladness. It is such a joyful book, and although with lockdown I am not going far from home, the animals I am drawing for its pages make me feel like I’m travelling the world.”
Carnell added: “I could not be more thrilled to be welcoming Michael Morpurgo to Two Hoots. The warmth, humanity and sheer beauty of his writing shine through A Song of Gladness to inspire us all, while Emily Gravett's breathtaking illustrations perfectly capture the joyous spirit of the story. “It is a privilege to work with two such towering talents and I am singing with pride to be publishing their first book together.”
A version of the text was published earlier this year in The Book of Hopes: Words and Pictures to Comfort, Inspire and Entertain Children (Bloomsbury Children's Books), edited by Katherine Rundell, as a free collection dedicated to everybody working in hospitals during the pandemic.
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