In what looks to be among the first big pre-Frankfurt deals, Steven Malk at Writers House sold a YA take on “Cinderella” to Scholastic.
In a nine-publisher auction, for a sum rumored to be in the mid-to-high six-figure range, Mallory Kass at Scholastic took North American rights to Jennifer Donnelly’s Stepsister. A film deal for the book is also imminent; Sylvie Rabineau at William Morris Endeavor is handling film rights and confirmed that multiple offers have been made, and a deal will be announced soon.
Acquired from a partial manuscript, the novel, Malk said, offers “a harrowing and hopeful 'Cinderella' story for the 21st century.” It is told from the point of view of one of the fairy tale’s “wicked” stepsisters. Isabelle, who has just sliced off her toes to try to fit into the glass slipper the prince has been carting around, is also desperately trying to meet her mother’s expectations. Neither effort has been met with success.
With her future looking to be void of any “happily ever after,” Isabelle, Malk continued, reexamines her path as "personifications of fate and chance battle for control of her life, hinting that there may be hope after all for a girl labeled ugly since her first appearances in literature."
Donnelly is a respected and successful writer, having won a Carnegie Medal for her 2003 work, A Northern Light (Harcourt). (The book was also named a PW Best Book of the Year.) She’s picked up a number of other awards, including a Printz Honor and an Amazon Best Book of Year nod.
And, as Malk noted in his pitch, Stepsister is not Donnelly’s first foray into the world of fairy tales. Her January release, Lost in a Book (Disney Press), is an original take on “Beauty and the Beast” and has spent, he said, 20 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and sold over 125,000 copies.