This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book. 26 WEDNESDAY 03.2014 NEWS


The 2014 Bologna Children’s Book Fair has been “buoyant” and “noisy”, with hot middle-grade properties and an escalation of digital deals. Lisa Milton, m.d. for Orion

General, said this year’s Bologna had been “the most buoyant and busy I’ve seen in a long, long time”. Anthony Forbes Watson, m.d.

of Pan Macmillan, agreed. He suggested the fair’s strength is how the children’s sector is perceived by readers: “The children’s market is healthier than ever. There is a mood of confidence accompanied by improving consumer optimism. This is a much noisier, populous book fair than it has been for several years with an exuberant co-edition market and a stable UK retail market.”

MIDDLE-GRADE FICTION Unlikely middle-grade title makes waves

In a year in which middle-grade fiction took centre stage, Puffin has inked four significant deals for Will Mabbitt’s début The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones, with “more on the table”. In two days, Puffin has sold the book to Viking in the US, Mondadori in Italy, Companhia das Letras in Brazil and CBJ in Germany. There was also an offer from Spain and an auction in France, and the author’s agent, Paul Moreton, of Bell Lomax Moreton, says there is strong interest in a film adaptation.The story focuses on a girl called Mabel Jones, who finds herself on a pirate ship after being bundled in a sack by a ”silent loris” named Omynus Hussh. Penguin Children’s rights director Zosia Knopp said the book, which Puffin acquired

by pre-empting ahead of nine other UK publishers, stands out

because of the strength of the writing. ”For the past few years publishers have been looking for middle- grade fiction, and that’s true internationally. But it is quite tough to find something original and brilliantly written,” she said. Puffin will publish The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones in 2015. A second book by Mabbitt will follow, with dates yet to be confirmed.

STOP PRESS! Macmillan‘s six-figure coup

While middle-grade has grabbed the headlines at Bologna, there were still plenty of YA acquisitions. As The Bookseller Daily went to press, Macmillan Children’s Books announced it had acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, to two books from début YA author E K Johnston in a “six-figure” deal. The first book, A Thousand Nights, tells of the story of iconic Persian queen Scheherazade. Macmillan will publish in 2015. Publisher Venetia Gosling made a pre- empt deal for the rights with Caroline Walsh at David Higham, sub-agent for Adams Literary in the US.


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‘Buoyant’ Bologna bustles with activity

Louise Knight, international sales manager at Egmont, noted more optimism among UK and US publishers. She said Egmont was having more digital talks, but not for all territories. “In prior years there was a wariness about digital but people understand what it is now. English-language markets are interested in digital, but in the translation markets it’s less of a big deal.” The schedule of Bologna—which

Barbara Marcus, president and publisher of Random House US’ children’s division, noted a shift away from recent fairs, which have been dominated by Hunger Games-esque YA titles. She said: “The difference this year is that there are more and more single-

authored books. People are looking for strong characters and content; there is less dystopia. Even if the books are in a series, they feel like single books that can stand on their own. There is still a lot of YA around but there is definitely more of an interest in middle-grade.”

this year falls just two weeks before the London Book Fair—has been an issue for some. Carlton Books design director Russell Porter, while noting a busy fair with “lots of interest from the Far East, Eastern Europe and the US”, said: “The closeness of Bologna to LBF isn’t great; people told us they weren’t coming this year because they’re going to London instead.”

INSIDE ❱ ❱ 04


Publishers look for the next Jeff Kinney in a flurry of deals

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