Penguin Young Readers Group's latest debut author is also one of its target readers: a 13-year-old boy. The division's Grosset & Dunlap imprint has inked Jake Marcionette to a two-book, North American rights deal for his middle-grade series, Just Jake. The first book in the series, about a sixth grader trying to establish his social life at a new school, is set for February 2014.
Dan Lazar at Writers House sold the series to Francesco Sedita, president and publisher of Grosset & Dunlap. Marcionette, who began the books when he was 12, writes about a boy named Jake Ali Mathews whose life is upended after his family moves from Florida to Maryland. In his new school, Jake struggles to start fresh, while also avoiding the local bully.
Sedita said that he was "blown away" when he found out that the series, which will also feature illustrations, was written by a 12-year-old. The story, Sedita added, "reminded me of what it felt like to worry about finding the right classrooms, take impossible pop quizzes, and figure out the rules of popularity... and made me laugh the whole way through."
PYRG plans to publish the second book in the series in February 2015, and has an option on the planned third title.