"Modern Family meets Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” “Heathers meets The Craft,” and “Titanic in outer space” are just some of the intriguing-sounding projects that will be on offer this month at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. We asked some American agents to tell us about two projects they have high hopes for.
“The perfect blend of science fiction, adventure, and romance” starts out the list from Tracey and Josh Adams, in Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner’s Wrecked, pitched as “Titanic in outer space.” Disney-Hyperion bought the series at auction in a three-book deal, for publication in 2013, 2014, and 2015; it’s been sold to Brazil and Poland. Another set of three, Kimberley Griffith Little’s trilogy Goddess (“the YA Red Tent”), HarperCollins pre-empted and will publish in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Translation, U.K., and film rights are available (Poland and Thailand have been sold).
Andrea Brown Literary Agency
Two YA novels take center stage for this agency, beginning with Butter by Erin Lange (Bloomsbury, Oct.), a debut about a lonely 438-pound boy with the nickname “Butter,” who announces on the Internet that he will eat himself to death. U.K. rights have been sold. And Let the Sky Fall, a YA debut by Shannon Messenger (Simon Pulse, Mar. 2013), tells of a 17-year-old boy who mysteriously survived a category five tornado that killed his parents, and who years later finds out he has a guardian sylph—a girl who can harness the power of the wind.
Curtis Brown Ltd.
YA’s the name of the game for two projects shown by Elizabeth Harding and Ginger Clark. The first one, Transparent by Natalie Whipple (HarperTeen, winter 2013), is a debut novel set in the future about a teenage girl who is invisible—and has to figure out a way to escape the control of her crime boss father. And in Gordon Korman’s Ungifted (Balzer + Bray, fall 2012), a 14-year-old boy with a talent for getting in trouble accidentally gets placed in a school for the gifted and talented, but only he seems convinced this is a mistake. Walden Media has the film option.
The Chudney Agency
“Teen assassins meet Millennium series’ Lisbeth Salander” is Steven Chudney’s pitch line for Dualed by Elsie Chapman (Random House, Feb. 2013; rights sold in Germany), and 34 Pieces of You by Carmen Rodrigues is a “dark, affecting novel in the tradition of Thirteen Reasons Why” (Simon Pulse, Sept.; rights sold in Germany).
Laura Dail Literary Agency
Laura Dail says she’s “never been more excited about a middle-grade debut” than she is for Cartboy and the Time Capsule, written and illustrated by L.A. Campbell (Tor, spring 2013). Cartboy stars a luckless kid named Hal whose history teacher asks the class to write journals that will be buried in a time capsule at the end of the year. Dail is also featuring a new middle-grade series by Sarah Mlynowski called Whatever After; in it, a girl named Abby and her little brother, Jonah, fall into fairy tales, mess them up, and help the characters find new happy endings. In the first book, Fairest of All (Scholastic, May), Abby and Jonah get sucked into the world of Snow White. German, French, and Italian rights have been sold.
Taryn Fagerness Agency
Two highlights for this foreign rights agency are Linked by Imogen Howson, a “Bourne Identity–style YA thriller” about a teenage girl who discovers she is “linked” mentally to a twin she never knew she had, and that twin is on the run from ruthless government agents. S&S bought it on pre-empt for six figures, for spring 2013. And Life’s a Witch by self-publishing phenom Brittany Geragotelis is the story of a powerful young witch and her battle against an evil coven. It will come out from S&S in October 2013, and rights have sold to Italy, Romania, and Spain.
Folio Literary Management
Jonathan Lyons and Molly Jaffa will be on hand showing the first title in a YA trilogy by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian, called Burn for Burn (S&S, Sept.), pitched as “Heathers meets The Craft.” German rights have been sold, along with Portuguese rights in Brazil. And The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate author Jacqueline Kelly has written a sequel, Return to the Willows, to Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 classic The Wind in the Willows. Holt has it for September; Italian and world Spanish rights have been sold.
Foundry Literary + Media
Newbery Medalist Laura Amy Schlitz has a middle-grade thriller with a touch of magic, called Splendors and Glooms (Candlewick), about a wealthy girl kidnapped by a Venetian-born puppeteer and magician who uses his powers to imprison her mind and body. U.K. rights and German rights have been sold. On the YA side, Rachel Hecht and Stéphanie Abou will be featuring a contemporary retelling of Romeo and Juliet with a twist, When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle (Simon Pulse). Casting for a Fox 2000 movie adaptation is currently underway, and the book has been sold into eight territories (U.K., Brazil, Germany, France, Indonesia, Poland, Portugal, and Taiwan).
Nancy Gallt Literary Agency
“Our two big pushes,” says agent Marietta Zacker, are Invisible World by Suzanne Weyn (Scholastic, Aug.), based on the Salem Witch Trials, which she says “brings a historical aspect to YA, and is a different way of looking at witches,” and Anyway* by Arthur Salm (S&S, May), a middle-grade novel starring a boy named Max. The book’s subtitle says it all: “A Story About Me, with 138 Footnotes, 27 Exaggerations, and One Plate of Spaghetti.”
Barry Goldblatt Literary
A supernatural thriller set in New York City in the 1920s is high on Barry Goldblatt’s list for the fair; it’s the first in a quartet called The Diviners, from Printz winner Libby Bray (Little, Brown, Sept.). Rights have been sold in the U.K., Australia, Brazil, Germany, Israel, Italy, and Portugal. Also on offer: Prophecy by Ellen Oh, first in the Dragon King Chronicles (HarperCollins, spring 2013), about a female warrior and demon slayer tasked with protecting the crown prince, who just might be the Dragon King whose return was prophesied centuries ago. It’s a debut novel by Oh, a former lawyer who felt the calling of her Korean heritage after reading a biography of Genghis Khan.
Sanford J. Greenburger Associates
Two very different projects will be in Brenda Bowen’s briefcase. The first, Belle Epoque (Delacorte, spring 2013), is based on an Emile Zola story, “Les Repoussoirs.” It’s a debut novel by Elizabeth Ross, set in 1890s Paris, in which a girl provides an unusual service: she is a friend for hire. And Bowen will also be talking up Small Potatoes, the preschool property from Little Airplane Productions about a band of, yes, singing potatoes. Grosset has a 10-book commitment; Small Potatoes is currently being broadcast on television in 17 territories, and a feature film is in production.
Greenhouse Literary Agency
Greenhouse founder Sarah Davies has two YA projects she’s especially excited about: The Curiosities: A Collection of Stories by Tessa Gratton, Maggie Stiefvater, and Brenna Yovanoff (Carolrhoda Lab, Oct.), a “mesmerizing and richly diverse” story collection that offers insight into the creative process, and Skinny by Donna Cooner (Scholastic, Oct.; U.K./Commonwealth rights sold to Egmont), about a girl who undergoes gastric-bypass surgery, written by a debut author who has walked that road herself.
Jill Grinberg Literary Management
In attendance at the fair, in addition to Jill Grinberg and Cheryl Pientka, is Cinder author Marissa Meyer. Translation rights to Cinder have been sold in 16 countries, and Meyer will be meeting with her foreign editors about Scarlet, #2 in the Lunar Chronicles (Feiwel and Friends, winter 2013). In the new book, Scarlet’s search for her missing grandmother takes her and a mysterious street fighter named Wolf to Paris where they collide—literally—with Cinder and uncover a malicious plot. And in Jon Skovron’s Man Made Boy (Viking, pub date not set), the son of Frankenstein’s monster and his bride decides to run away and start a new life among humans, setting out on a Kerouac-style journey of discovery. The book’s protagonist, Boy, was partly inspired by Skovron working with a bunch of hackers for an Internet security company after college.
“Modern Family meets Diary of a Wimpy Kid” is the mashup for a middle-grade series that Jill Corcoran will be offering. In The Classroom: The Epic Documentary of a Not-Yet-Epic Kid by Robin Mellom, a film crew chronicles the life of a seventh grader (an epic worrier) and his classmates. It’s the lead summer title for Disney-Hyperion, which has world English rights; Herman has translation rights. For teen readers, there’s Blind Spot by debut novelist Laura Ellen, about a legally blind girl who must piece together clues she can’t remember, to clear her name and find a murderer. The author, who is legally blind, drew upon her own life for her story; Harcourt will release the book in October.
One of Catherine Drayton’s big titles is The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee, which is slated as Knopf’s lead title for fall 2013. It’s a psychological suspense novel about a murdered girl and a hand-stitched dress; ANZ rights have been sold. And Rift, the latest in Andrea Cremer’s Nightshade series, is set 500 years before the events of Nightshade; Philomel will publish this August, and rights have been sold in the U.K. and Greece.
The Eleventh Plague author Jeff Hirsch has an SF/fantasy adventure, Magisterium, in which a 16-year-old girl must navigate a 100-year-old conflict in a world where reality has been split in two. Scholastic Press will publish in October, and a sequel is planned. Agent Sara Crowe is also showing a debut novel, Taken, by Erin Bowman, first in a trilogy, in which a 17-year-old boy has grown up in a primitive town where boys are “heisted” on their 18th birthday, never to be seen again; he decides to find out the truth behind the disappearances. HarperTeen will publish in winter 2013; German and Italian rights have been sold.
McIntosh & Otis
Edward Necarsulmer has been busy in the kitchen cooking up Minette’s Feast: A Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat by Susanna Reich (Abrams, May); it’s the story of the chef’s first cat, a Parisian who lapped up Child’s leftovers but preferred mice. He’ll also be showing Endure, the conclusion to Carrie Jones’s Need series, in which Zara and her friends must stop not only the pixies ravaging their hometown but an impending apocalypse as well. Bloomsbury U.S. and U.K. are pubbing in May; rights have been sold in France and Turkey.
Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency
Jeanne Duvoisin Blackmore, granddaughter of children’s author Roger Duvoisin, makes her picture book debut with How Does Sleep Come?, illustrated by Elizabeth Sayles (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, Sept.). Jennifer Weltz is also showing a contemporary gothic YA called Amber House (Scholastic/Levine, Sept.). It’s the YA debut of mother-daughters team Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, and Larkin Reed, and is the first in a three-book series.
Stimola Literary Studio
Peaches author Jodi Lynn Anderson has written a new YA novel that Rosemary Stimola will be showing: Tiger Lily puts a new spin on a classic tale in this revisit to Neverland, which tells of the romance between a fearless tribal heroine and the boy who wouldn’t grow up. HarperCollins has North American and open market rights, and will pub in July. And Stimola has a new middle-grade series by James Ponti, about a girl who is recruited by a secret society to follow in her mother’s legendary footsteps to hunt zombies that live beneath New York City. The first installment, Dead City, comes out in October from S&S/Aladdin, which has North American and open market rights.
Paris provides the backdrop for the Grotesque trilogy, which Michael Stearns and Ted Malawer have sold in a pre-empt to Delacorte (the first book pubs in spring 2013). It’s a gothic thriller by Page Morgan, in which two teen girls are plunged into an otherworldly mystery. And for middle-grade readers, they have The Key and the Flame (McElderry, spring 2013), a fantasy series by Clare Caterer, set in a world where magic has been outlawed, and three kids must break the rules to survive.
For their literary development company The Inkhouse, Stearns and Malawer have two YA trilogies. Mystic City by Theo Lawrence is a Romeo-and-Juliet story set in an alternate Manhattan where magic is real (Delacorte bought U.S. rights in a pre-empt, for this October); in the Diabolical trilogy by Yelena Black, fame meets Rosemary’s Baby in a paranormal thriller set in an elite dance academy. Bloomsbury U.S. will pub in February 2013; Bloomsbury U.K. and Germany pre-empted.
Wernick & Pratt Agency
Marcia Wernick and Linda Pratt are highlighting a picture book and a middle-grade novel, among other projects. Mo Willems gives his inimitable Willemsian twist to a classic tale in Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, Sept.). And there’s a debut mystery: Malcolm at Midnight by W.H. Beck, illustrated by Brian Lies (Houghton, Oct.). In the novel, Malcolm is wrongly accused of kidnapping another classroom pet; it’s billed as “The Tale of Despereaux meets Chasing Vermeer.”
Perhaps the most notable book title in this roundup is Severed Heads, Broken Hearts, a novel by Robyn Schneider; Heifetz sold it to Katherine Tegen Books at HarperCollins just before the fair. The story takes readers through a year in the life of a prom king, whose charmed existence collides with not one but two life-changing misfortunes. It’s pitched as “an edgy romance for smart teens who want a happy ending, not a sappy one.” Newbery Medalist Sharon Creech has a new novel, too, which Joanna Cotler will publish this September at HarperCollins: The Great Unexpected; it’s a story of pairs—two sisters who grew up together in Ireland, and two orphans in the U.S, and the mysteries about family and identity that are unraveled.