Macmillan Children's scoops fantasy trilogy in six-figure Bologna deal

Macmillan Children's scoops fantasy trilogy in six-figure Bologna deal

Macmillan Children’s Books has secured fantasy trilogy Children of Blood and Bone by debut writer Tomi Adeyemi in a "hotly contested" six-figure auction.

The deal for UK and Commonwealth print, digital and audio rights excluding Canada, was concluded by publisher Belinda Ioni Rasmussen with Jon Yaged, president and publisher of sister company Macmillan Children's Publishing Group in the US, who bought world English language rights in a pre-empt from Alexandra Machinist and Hillary Jacobson at ICM Partners a week prior to Bologna.

Film rights were secured shortly after acquisition with a "high level" pre-empt from Fox 2000. The first book in the series will publish with a global launch in 2018.

Children of Blood and Bone is described as a compelling, magical fantasy, which draws inspiration from West African mythology. Its Nigerian-American author, who is a Harvard University graduate and only 23, is a creative writing coach based in San Diego, California.

One of the most talked about books at the 2017 Bologna International Book Fair, the "powerful and relevant" debut places characters in "a culture of fear", following 16-year-old Zélie who has long suffered at the hands of the oppressive royal class. After a fortuitous encounter, Zélie realises that she is the only person who can restore the powerful and ancient magic of the Orïsha and bring harmony back to her people. But she is faced with a race against time, as there are those who will go to any lengths to prevent her from succeeding.

Rasmussen said: “Children of Blood and Bone is an utterly compelling read with fantastic world-building - I loved how visual it was and felt right there in the thick of it with Zélie and Amari - the sights, the sounds, the smell, it is all brilliantly evoked and incredibly exciting. I can't wait for us to publish this novel and launch Tomi on to the UKYA scene.”

Rachel Petty, editorial director for 6+, Macmillan Children’s Books will edit for the UK, alongside Christian Trimmer and Tiffany Liao for Henry Holt Books for Young Readers in the US. She added: “Not only does this book feel completely fresh and incredibly poignant in the current political climate, it’s also fantastically written, gripping and commercial. I’ve been looking for fantasy that draws from other mythologies and has something new to offer, and Children of Blood and Bone is all that and more.”

The Bologna Book Fair saw several big book announcements, with David Walliams' new children's title The World’s Worst Children 2 (HarperCollins Children’s Books) revealed on the first day, while a host of new deals ensued.

The Snow Lion, written by Jim Helmore and illustrated by Richard Jones (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books) was also a big hit at the fair with co-edition deals signed in two languages (Catalan and Castilian) and a Chinese auction underway. More deals are said to be expected. S&S UK has since signed a further two books with the "fantastically talented" illustrator Jones.

Egmont revealed it will publish the first ever picture book edition of The Hundred and One Dalmatians, with the children’s story by Dodie Smith to be adapted by Peter Bently and illustrated by Steven Lenton. Melissa Fairley, Egmont’s publishing director for Picture Book and Gift, acquired the book from Jodie Hodges at United Agents (Bently) and Sallyanne Sweeney at Mulcahy Associates (Lenton), to publish in October. An Egmont spokesperson said the original story had been “reimagined with Bently's fun, skilfully-crafted text and Lenton’s stunning illustrations, transforming this classic tale for a younger audience.”

Egmont also struck a deal for a three-book series about a “big-hearted vampiress” for 7+ readers with author and illustrator Laura Ellen Anderson. Ali Dougal, fiction publishing director at Egmont, signed with Helen Boyle from Pickled Ink for world rights after a “fiercely fought” auction; the series has also been snapped up in a five-figure pre-empt deal from Egmont Germany as well as a Dutch deal with Balloon Media. The first book in the series, Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball, will be published in October with the second title following in March 2018 and the third in October 2018.

Usborne acquired world rights to middle grade debut A Place Called Perfect by author Helena Duggan, a “creepy and unforgettable adventure” aimed at fans of Roald Dahl, Neil Gaiman and Tim Burton, from Lauren Clarke at the Bell Lomax Moreton Agency, to publish in August.  

Hodder Children’s Books announced a two-book deal with Young Adult Fantasy author and “Wattpad favourite” Rebecca Sky, brokered with The Bent Agency, with the first book in the deal, The Love Curse, to be published in June 2018. A fantasy teen romance for 12+ readers, it follows Rachel Patel, a “not-so-ordinary girl” descended from the Greek God Eros, who “dreams of being normal”.

And it was revealed McFly band member Tom Fletcher's "darkly magical” middle grade novel, The Creakers, about monsters under the bed who “snatch grown-ups away”, was snapped up by PRH Children's, Natalie Doherty from Curtis Brown, to publish in October in time for the Christmas market.