Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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‘The Bad Guys’ feature film in development with DreamWorks

Scholastic Australia has recently sold Italian rights at auction to the first four books in ‘The Bad Guys’ series by Aaron Blabey, and now DreamWorks Animation has begun development on a feature animated film based on the illustrated chapter books. Foundation Media Partners and Northside Services negotiated the deal for the rights to Blabey’s book series, and screenwriter Etan Cohen is slated to pen the adaptation. Blabey, who will serve as an executive producer on the film, told Think Australian that Cohen’s adaptation is looking ‘absolutely brilliant’. The series has around 2.5 million books in print, and has spent 17 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Combined with his other books in the ‘Pig the Pug’ series and Thelma the Unicorn, Blabey now has more than five million books in print worldwide.

Penguin Random House Australia (PRH) has acquired Australian and New Zealand rights to a new picture book by Gus Gordon titled I Am Alice. The book is described as ‘an exquisite and reassuring story about friendship, loss, and found family, featuring a city piglet, a seaside piglet, and a dash of magical realism’. ANZ rights were acquired by PRH publishing director Laura Harris in a two-book deal negotiated by Charlie Olsen at InkWell Management. Olsen also sold world English-language rights (ex ANZ) to the title to Jessica Garrison, senior editor at Dial Books for Young Readers. I Am Alice is scheduled for release in August 2019.

Berbay Publishing has sold North American rights to John Canty’s Heads and Tails: Insects to Candlewick Press, following deals with Le Genévrier in France, and Carl Hanser Verlag in Germany. The book is the companion title to Canty’s 2017 book Heads and Tails, which Candlewick also acquired in February last year. Berbay managing director Alexandra Yatomi-Clarke said she is delighted to have licensed the book to these territories. ‘These markets are very selective and sophisticated and John Canty’s books confirms his originality, creativity and talent,’ she said. Candlewick Press editorial director Elizabeth Bicknell said both books are ‘exactly’ what she looks for in picture books: ‘fresh, interesting artwork that perfectly reflects its subject matter in addition to being playful and accessible’. The US edition of Heads and Tails: Insects will be published in the US Spring 2020

A new Australian small publisher focused on children’s books has recently released its first title, and plans to release two more books in 2018. In May this year, Yellow Brick Books released Young MacDonald by author and illustrator Guiseppe Poli—a picture book about an ordinary day on the farm transformed into a grand adventure through a child’s vivid imagination. First established in 2016, Yellow Brick Books is primarily focused on ‘picture books and early readers (accessible chapter books for five- to nine-year-olds)’, as well as junior fiction for ages nine to 12, said acquisitions editor Rowena Beresford. The small publisher has also acquired rights to two previously published picture books: Oliver’s Grumbles (Yvonne Mes, illus by Giuseppe Poli), which Yellow Bricks Books re-released in October 2017, and Gus the Asparagus (Ann-Marie Finn & Kaylene Hobson), which will be re-released in July this year.

A virtual reality (VR) project based on Jack Heath’s book of short stories 300 Minutes of Danger (Scholastic) is one of four online projects to receive production funding from Screen Australia. Produced by independent film company Happening Films and VR entertainment studio The Pulse Originals, 30 Minutes of Danger follows Nassim who is mistaken for a jewel heist witness and poisoned in a revenge attack. Rosie Lourde, investment manager for online production at Screen Australia, said that that creative team is ‘experimenting with innovative distribution methods utilising pathways to audience through the existing fan base in ways not previously explored for VR in Australia’.

Other Australian rights sales and acquisitions include:

Picture books

  • Hachette Australia has acquired world rights to picture book Fashionista (Maxine Beneba Clarke).
  • Hardie Grant Egmont has sold simplified Chinese character rights to Incredibilia (Libby Hathorn, illus by Gaye Chapman); and Korean rights to Claris: The Chicest Mouse in Paris (Megan Hess).
  • Penguin Random House has sold Turkish-language rights to Blast Off! (Shelly Unwin, illus by Ben Wood); and simplified Chinese character rights to A Forest (Marc Martin).

Younger readers

Young adult

  • Fremantle Press has sold Slovenian rights to Saving Jazz (Kate McCaffrey) to Miš založba; and simplified Chinese character rights to The Hole Story (Kelly Canby) to Shanghai Juvenile & Children’s Publishing House.

Audio and digital

  • Era Publications has sold Jordanian digital rights to 200 titles on its multimedia ‘Read-along’ list.

For the latest Australian rights sales and acquisitions news, click here.


Category: Think Australian Junior Rights sales