Penguin Random House Children’s UK has acquired Hana Tooke’s début Middle Grade title in a “significant” six-figure deal, with the manuscript selling in pre-empts in Italy, France, Spain and Norway.
The Unadoptables, sold to PRH by Jenny Savill at Andrew Nurnberg Associates, is a Gothic adventure set in the Netherlands in the 19th century. Milou and four fellow orphans are deemed “unadoptable” when they arrive at an orphanage, and when the matron decides she wants to get rid of them, they fake their own adoption and flee.
PRH Children’s commissioning editor Naomi Colthurst pre-empted world English-language rights within 48 hours of the manuscript going on submission. Pre-empts were also signed with Rizzoli in Italy, Pocket Jeunesse in France, Urano in Spain and Kagge in Norway. DTV Junior acquired the book at auction in Germany.
Colthurst was “blown away” by the story. “It has been an incredibly long time since I’ve read something so immediately immersive, so gorgeously brought to life and which left me thinking about it whenever I had to (grumpily) put it down to do other things. So few novels have the ability to induce breathless overnight reads, but this has everything: beautiful writing, thrilling action, a perfect narrative and five wonderful children at its core.”
Tooke grew up in Amsterdam and moved to the UK aged 12. She was a primary school teacher for several years and now works with children with special educational needs. Tooke recently graduated from the Bath Spa MA in Writing for Young People, and The Unadoptables was shortlisted for The Bath Children’s Novel Award 2018.