‘Kittycorn’ Pic Book Fetches Seven Figures

For a rumored seven-figure sum, Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham sold a picture book titled Itty Bitty Kittycorn to Abrams. Emma Ledbetter won world English rights to the title, after an auction involving eight houses. Hale and Pham are the author-illustrator team behind the bestselling middle grade graphic memoirs Best Friends and Real Friends. Itty Bitty Kittycorn, Abrams said, “is about the importance of being seen and understood, by ourselves and others,” and involves “an adorable fluffy kitten who makes herself a unicorn horn.” Jodi Reamer at Writers House represented Hale in the agreement, while Holly McGhee at Pippin Properties represented Pham. Kittycorn is set for March 2021.



Kennedy Clan Book to HMH

For six figures, Bruce Nichols at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt bought Neal Thompson’s nonfiction work The First
Kennedys. The book, subtitled An Immigrant Maid, Her Bartender Son, and the Humble Roots of a Dynasty, chronicles the beginnings of the Kennedy family in America. Rob Weisbach at Rob Weisbach Creative Management represented Thompson, explaining that the book begins with the family matriarch—an Irish immigrant named Bridget who arrived in Boston in 1849—and details how “this resilient widow and single mother of four rose from maid to hairdresser to business owner and entrepreneur, providing the Kennedy family its first steps toward legitimacy in America.” The book also offers, Weisbach said, “a resonant rebuttal to current anti-immigrant sentiments.” Thompson is a journalist and author whose previous books include the 2018 memoir Kickflip Boys (Ecco).

Putnam Takes Bailey’s Birdie

After an auction, Putnam’s Tara Singh Carlson won world rights to Robert Bailey’s novel The Golfer’s Carol. Putnam said the book was pitched as It’s a Wonderful Life meets Field of Dreams and follows “one down-and-out husband, father, and golfer whose life is changed by a series of inspirational visits from his best friend and golfing idols.” Bailey, who was represented by Liza Fleissig at the Liza Royce Agency, is a trial lawyer and an avid golfer; he’s also the author of the bestselling McMurtrie and Drake legal thrillers. The book was inspired, Putnam added, by a dream trip the author had planned, with his father and brother, to play four famed golf courses. That trip was cut short after the death of Bailey’s father. The novel is slated for a fall 2020 release.

Marcero’s ‘Comet’ to Roaring Brook

The graphic novel debut Haylee and Comet was nabbed in a six-figure, world rights deal at auction. Jen Besser at Roaring Brook acquired the work, by Deborah Marcero, in a three-book agreement, from Laura Rennert at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Rennert said she pitched the early reader title as E.T. meets Narwhal and Jelly, and that, in it, “a girl wishes on a star for a friend, and one falls into her lap, literally.” Marcero, an author-illustrator, is on the faculty of the Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and is the author of the picture book In a Jar, coming from Putnam January 21.

Harper Kids Goes ‘Away’ with Brown

Waka T. Brown sold her middle grade memoir, While I Was Away, to HarperCollins Children’s for six figures. Alyssa Miele bought world rights to the title at auction, in a two-book deal, from Penny Moore and Erin Files at Aevitas Creative Management. Moore said the book was pitched as The Farewell meets Brown Girl Dreaming and follows “the author’s journey as a Japanese American who was sent to live in Japan with a grandmother she never knew and attend public school because her parents feared she was losing her culture.” The book is set for winter 2021.

Donna Bray Picks Up Dass’s ‘Rhythm’

At auction, Donna Bray at Balzer + Bray bought world English rights to debut author Sarah Dass’s YA novel Where the Rhythm Takes You. Dass, who was represented by Wendi Gu at Sanford J. Greenburger, based the book on Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Set in Dass’s native Trinidad and Tobago, the novel follows a young woman named Reyna who, after her mother dies, feels like she’s also lost her best friend, Aiden, when he suddenly moves to the U.S. Gu said that in the book, Aiden returns to Trinidad and Tobago as an international pop star, “but the last thing Reyna wants to do is risk her heart all over again.” Rhythm is set for summer 2021, and a second untitled novel, also part of the deal, is set to follow.

Norton Makes ‘Music’ with Eyre

John Glusman at Norton bought Makana Eyre’s Unsilenced: The Remarkable Story of the Man Who Saved the Music of the Holocaust at auction. Norton said the book is about a Polish Catholic named Aleksander Kulisiewicz who, as a prisoner at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1940, “befriends an underground Jewish choir director, and saves over 600 songs composed in the camp, many of them by Jews who later perish.” Grace A. Ross at Regal Hoffmann & Associates sold world English rights on the behalf of Eyre, a journalist who covers European politics and has written for such publications as the Guardian, the Nation, and Politico Europe.

Movie Deals

Paradise Found by Bill Plaschke (which was acquired last year by William Morrow) has been optioned by 101 Studios with The Rookie producer Mark Ciardi attached. The book follows the high school football team from the town of Paradise, Calif., which was ravaged by the Camp Fire in 2018. Susan Canavan and Ashley Lopez at Waxman Literary Agency brokered the deal on behalf of Plaschke.

Jonathan Lethem’s Gun, with Occasional Music (1994) has been optioned by Legendary Television, according to Deadline. Chernobyl director Johan Renck is attached to helm the planned miniseries.

International Deals

In the U.K., Tinder Press bought a debut novel by Francesca Reece that the publisher, per the Bookseller, is touting as a “tour de force.” The novel, Voyeur, touches on, the Bookseller elaborated,“themes such as privilege in the arts, the male gaze and memory.”

Aftermath, by German journalist Harald Jähner, has been acquired by British publisher Ebury. The book, originally published by Gertje Maass in February 2019, won the Leipzig Book Fair nonfiction prize. According to Ebury, via the Bookseller, the title is “the first history of Germany’s national mentality in the immediate postwar years.” To date, it has spent 26 weeks on the bestseller list of the German news magazine Der Spiegel.