Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

Image. Advertisement:

Aus publishers’ latest acquisitions 

Among the latest children’s and YA acquisitions by Australian publishers:


Allen & Unwin (A&U) has acquired ANZ rights to Landovel, a three-part junior fantasy adventure story from Emily Rodda. Publisher Eva Mills described the work as ‘compulsive and engaging’ and ‘brilliantly plotted with multiple twists’. A&U stated that the planned publication of the three parts in a single package is ‘unprecedented’. A&U plans to publish the package in October 2024. 

Larrikin House has acquired world rights to a junior fiction text titled Camp Spook: Attack of the Aliants!, co-authored by Pip Harry and Kate Foster. In this book, 10-year-old Julia is underwhelmed by the opportunity to attend ‘the (ridiculously named) Sensational Sport Superstars of the Future Camp’, while Jimmy, also 10 years old, has left his small town and his single mum in country Victoria to be at the camp, supported by a fundraiser from his school community. Also in this story: ‘Earthquakes, kid robots, underground tunnels and alien ants!’ 

Larrikin House has also acquired world rights to a junior fiction title by author and illustrator Jules Faber and Larrikin publicist Dani Vee, titled How Not To…. Described by the publisher as ‘a comic and fun book with a strong theme of rebels and trailblazers’, How Not To… will be written by Vee and illustrated by Faber. 

Also in news from Larrikin House, the publisher has acquired world rights to two junior fantasy fiction series from Louise Park and collaborators—the Boy vs Beast series (co-written with Susannah McFarlane, writing as Mac Park), which Larrikin will re-release, and the forthcoming Prank Wars series (co-written with Mo Johnson). 

UWAP has acquired ANZ rights to a four-book junior fiction series, Ella and the Frogs, from Cassy Polimeni. The forthcoming series is for early readers aged five to eight years, ‘exploring themes of friendship and animal protection/conservation’, with each story opening with ‘a frog-related fact that mirrors a theme in Ella’s life’. Ella and the Amazing Frog Orchestra, the first book in the series, introduces Ella, who ‘has moved house and is missing her old life, until she discovers a frog pond in the backyard and bonds with her new classmate, Mai, over the school frog bog’. Faced with a development project that threatens the pond, the new friends have to work together ‘to save the frogs before it’s too late’. UWAP plans to publish Ella and the Amazing Frog Orchestra in July 2024, with subsequent books in the series due to be published between 2024 and 2026. 

Middle grade

Allen & Unwin (A&U) has acquired ANZ rights to Thunderhead, a debut illustrated middle-grade novel by picture book author and illustrator Sophie Beer, via Annabel Barker at Annabel Barker Agency. Narrated by the titular Thunderhead, the novel is ‘about a music-obsessed kid, the squirmy awkwardness of early teen life and the challenge of living with illness and loss—beautifully told with humour, music, art and joy’, said A&U. ‘Drawing on her own personal experiences, Sophie Beer delivers an indelible illustrated novel, immediately engaging, fresh, funny, warm, sad, utterly authentic and entirely unputdownable.’

Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing (HGCP) has acquired world rights (ex North America) to The Midwatch, a middle-grade novel from author and illustrator Judith Rossell, via Annabel Barker of Annabel Barker Agency. In this forthcoming novel, which will be Rossell’s first novel publication in six years, protagonist Maggie Fishbone is banished to the Midwatch Institute for Orphans, Runaways and Unwanted Girls, where ‘she soon discovers there’s more to Midwatch than meets the eye.’ ‘The city shimmers with jewels and secrets, and when a woman goes missing, Maggie is thrust into an adventure that takes her deep underground, high above the clouds and face to face with danger itself.’ HGCP plans to release The Midwatch in October, with ‘a major trade and consumer campaign’. 

HarperCollins has acquired world rights to Shellsville, a duology for early middle-grade readers by Katherine Collette, via Danielle Binks and Jacinta di Mase of Jacinta di Mase Management. Described by Binks as a ‘humorous contemporary lower-end middle-grade duology’ for readers aged 8+, Shellsville will be ‘the first foray into KidLit for beloved adult women’s fiction author Katherine Collette, who will also be illustrating the series’. Binks said that the first book is ‘tentatively scheduled’ for October 2024, and HarperCollins plans to release the second book in 2025. 

Christmas Press has acquired world rights to The Lastling (April 2025), a science fiction novel for upper middle-grade readers by Victor Kelleher, via Margaret Connolly of Margaret Connolly and Associates. To be illustrated by Lorena Carrington, the book follows Guido, an Android whose job it is to guide humans through the Wilderness Park, the last remaining tract of unspoiled country, and Verne, a human girl and thief working in the city, in what Christmas Press publishing director Sophie Masson said is ‘both an extraordinary adventure set in a disturbing future, and also a timely and thought-provoking exploration of what it really means to be human’.

YA and graphic novels

Larrikin House has acquired world rights to two graphic novels set for release in 2024. One title is Ultra Violet by Cristy Burne, illustrated by Rebel Challenger, which ‘follows Violet, a science genius, and her friends, including a talking hermit crab, through a science POOnami and an alien invasion’. The second graphic novel is Urban Legend Hunters by performance poet Joel McKerrow and Wayne Bryant, which is about ‘something sinister stirring in the town of Shadow Grove’—a situation that would call for professional monster hunters (if there were any to call). 

Finally, Affirm Press has acquired world rights to Max, a coming-of-age novel by Avi Duckor-Jones, via Jane Novak Literary Agency. The titular protagonist is ‘grappling with questions about his birth parents and his sexuality’, and struggling with the feeling that he is somehow flawed. As the end of high school approaches, an incident at a party propels Max into exploring these questions of identity, origins, and love. 


Category: Think Australian feature