Walker Books will publish award-winning poet Joseph Coelho’s first middle-grade fiction series.
Senior editor Tanya Rosie acquired world rights for three-part horror series for children, Fairytales Gone Bad, illustrated by Freya Hartas, in a pre-empt from Felicity Trew at the Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency. Doreen Thorogood at Good Illustration Agency represented the illustrator.
The first book in the series, Zombierella, will publish in September 2020 in hardback, and the second, Frankenstiltskin, will follow a year later, in autumn 2021.
"Written in verse, each highly-illustrated story will be funny and deliciously dark, rediscovering the gory roots of a much-loved classic. Zombierella starts with the night Cinderella slips at the top of the stairs … and dies," reads the synopsis. "But it’s not for long. The Shadow of Death arrives to breathe life back into her bones and, for three nights only, she goes forth as Zombierella, ready to seek revenge on her three cruel sisters, once and for all."
Rosie said: “I have been a long-time fan of Joseph Coelho’s poetry and picture book writing. So, when Zombierella arrived on my desk, I couldn’t have been more excited. It was completely different from anything I’d read from Joseph before – daringly irreverent and deliciously gruesome, it showcased Joseph’s wild imagination and remarkable, always-lyrical way with words. There is no-one better than Freya Hartas to tap into the atmosphere of these stories – her vision is fresh and funny. They are a hugely exciting new pairing, and I can’t wait until these books are in readers’ hands and being shared among friends.”
Coelho added: “Kids want to talk about zombies! But more than that kids want to explore narratives that thrill them, that come close to scaring them, that allow them to safely navigate themes such as death with language that is new and exciting. I have become very aware of this fact in my seventeen years plus of running creative literacy sessions in schools. For me the power of books is in their ability to create safe spaces where we can navigate deep, dark and sometimes dangerous themes and ideas and maybe even have a giggle on the way. Working with the Walker team and Freya Hartas on Fairytales Gone Bad has been a wonderful opportunity to cater for those children I’ve had the privilege of working with and to have fun with words and language.”