Usborne has acquired The Book of Stolen Dreams, the debut children’s novel from UK screenwriter and director David Farr, in a two-book deal.
The novel is a fantasy adventure inspired by the author’s German-Jewish great-aunt and great-uncle, who each made courageous journeys as unaccompanied children, escaping Dusseldorf in the 1930s for London.
The synopsis reads: "Rachel and Robert live a grey, dreary life in the once-vibrant city of Brava in Krasnia, under the rule of cruel dictator Charles Malstain. But when their librarian father enlists their help to steal a forbidden book, they are plunged into adventure which sees them separated, and each undertaking a perilous journey where they must use all their wit, wonder and tenacity. With their father captured, it is up to Rachel and Robert to uncover the secrets of the book and track down its mysteriously missing final page in order to save him. What they are not expecting is to discover a family of ghosts, a door to the dead and that the book grants the power of immortality. But they will do anything to stop it falling into Malstain’s hands—for if it does, he could rule forever."
Rebecca Hill, editorial fiction director, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, from Stephanie Thwaites and Nick Marston at Curtis Brown. The Book of Stolen Dreams will be published in a luxury hardback gift edition on 30th September 2021 and will be followed by an untitled second novel set in the same world.
Hill said: "Publishing this extraordinary book by David Farr is quite simply a dream come true. It is a literary masterclass: phenomenal characters, page-turning adventure, sublime world-building and visually exhilarating action. I couldn’t put it down. David has created a story about the power of art to save the world, about two children’s bravery, their fight for survival and belief in love. I can’t wait for it to become a modern classic."
Farr, best known for his adaptation of John le Carre's The Night Manager, commented: “I’ve always wanted to write a children’s story about a very particular brother and sister whose adventure starts with a flight away from their homeland. I just never got to begin it. And then lockdown happened. And suddenly I began.
"The Book of Stolen Dreams is a fantasy adventure set in a timeless era in a land of my invention. It is a story about the power of stories, poetry, and imagination to save the world from corrupt and terrifying power; and in particular it’s a tale of a brother and sister who go on a remarkable and dangerous journey to save their father and earn their right to a brighter future.
"The inspiration came from Robert and Ruth Elkan, my great uncle and great aunt. I knew and loved them dearly when I was younger and in talking to them I learnt of their childhood as young Jews in Dusseldorf, Germany in the 1930s, and their subsequent escape. But The Book of Stolen Dreams is not my ancestors’ story; it is a story of many lands and peoples, and the suffering and loss endured under any tyrannical rule. Sadly, those are becoming more common these days and this was also an inspiration. I’m delighted to be publishing it with the wonderful team at Usborne."
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