A definitive biography of iconoclastic baseball figure Branch Rickey by veteran baseball writer Roger Kahn sounds like a dream combination, and one that Rodale's Zach Schisgal swiftly preempted on offer. Rickey helped create the minor leagues and made social history when he broke the color barrier by hiring Jackie Robinson for the major leagues, and Kahn has been studying him ever since Kahn's Herald Tribune reporting days. The North American rights deal was with Robert Wilson of Wilson Media, publication set for spring 2007.... A second novel by T Cooper, whose small-press—published Some of the Parts was a B&N Discover Great New Writers pick, has sold a second novel to Dutton's Laurie Chittenden. It's a multigenerational saga about a family fleeing Russian pogroms for the U.S., called Lipshitz Six or Two Angry Blonds, and was bought, North American rights, from Doug Stewart at Sterling Lord.... Random's Susanna Porter won a lively auction for a book by NPR's veteran Beijing correspondent Rob Gifford, called In Search of the Great Leap Forward. His format will be a journey across the huge country from east to west, observing as he goes the countless changes he has seen in China in the 20 years he has spent there. Gail Ross was the agent, for world rights.... Brendan Cahill at Gotham signed a nonfiction book, also set in China, that sounds just like a movie: a memoir by Matthew Polly, the first American to learn kung fu from the monks at the original Shaolin Temple; he underwent tough training, had a forbidden love affair, and fought and won a grueling climactic kung fu match against a master from a rival temple. Joe Veltre at Artists Literary group made the North American rights sale.

Hot Deals will not appear next week; the author is in London.