As Bologna Children’s Book Fair Opens: Rights Roundup of Titles

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

As the Bologna Children’s Book Fair opens, we bring you a selection of rights deals for children’s and YA titles from Slovenia, Finland, Germany, and the USA.

Authors, illustrators mentioned in today’s Bologna-bound rights roundup are, clockwise from upper left, Janja Vidmar; Petra Postert; Erin A. Craig; Tuutikki Tolonen; Kevin van Whye; Mary Papayanni; Meritxell Martí  and Xavier Salomó; and Arno Strobel

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

The Phrase ‘TV-Ready’ Is in Play at Bologna
As a large part of the international industry heads into a vibrantly sunny northern Italy today (April 1) for the 56th Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the key themes for the 2019 outing are:

  • “Words and colors” of the African-American culture
  • A perceived return to handwriting
  • The interestingly phrased “women and ‘great women'” in children’s literature
  • The breadth of international illustration

As Publishing Perspectives has reported, the Bologna fair and the International Publishers Association used the London Book Fair as a pedestal to announce Bologna’s sign-on to the SDG Book Club project devised to support and promote the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

We have a chance here to highlight for you some of the key titles that agents and rights directors are pointing up for us, as final preparations are made for Monday’s (April 1) opening.

As in each roundup, we use the promotional copy supplied to us by agents and rights directors. We edit that sales copy to give you an idea about a book’s nature and tone. If you’d like to submit a deal to Publishing Perspectives, see the instructions at the end of this article.

And we start, this time, with an entry being put forward as “a TV-ready romantic comedy.” Add to that list of big issues at this year’s Bologna: books to screens.

Date Me, Bryce Keller!

By Kevin van Whye

  • Publisher: Publisher: Random House Children’s (World English)
  • Rights contact: Danielle Bukowski at Sterling Lord Literistic

Reported rights sales:

  • Brazil: Intrinseca
  • Italy: Piemme
  • Spain: Planeta Mexico

Date Me, Bryson Keller! is described as a TV-ready romantic comedy with a great hook and a happy ending.

Bryson Keller, the most popular boy at Fairvale Academy, has pledged to date for seven days the first person to ask him out Monday morning. Since Bryson is not just popular but sweet and handsome, all of the girls jump at the chance to be with him.

When a new week begins and Kai Sheridan—gay but closeted—asks him out, Bryson says yes; a pledge is a pledge, and he never made a rule about gender. As Kai and Bryson spend more time together, Kai realizes he’s falling for him, even though he knows how the story of a gay boy liking someone straight ends. But Bryson might be falling for Kai too.

Sota les onades (Under the waves)

By Meritxell Martí  (author) and Xavier Salomó (illustrator)

  • Publisher: Editorial Flamboyant
  • Rights contact: Marina Huguet

Reported rights sales:

  • Brazil/Portuguese

“An apparently simple encounter at sea reveals the inner conflict of the two main characters: shame, fear, rejection…

“There is only one thing to do: diving to the depths of the ocean, seeking hidden treasures, and looking attentively with eyes wide open. Just like that we may discover what we are capable of, how wonderful life is and what really matters.

“A very intimate and moving story hiding many interpretations and making both children and adults face our inner conflicts with love and confidence.”

House of Salt and Sorrows

By Erin A. Craig

  • Publisher: Delacorte (World English)
  • Rights contact: Danielle Bukowski at Sterling Lord Literistic

Reported rights sales:

  • Russia: Clever Media Group
  • Turkey: Epsilon

In Erin A. Craig’s House of Salt and Sorrows, Annaleigh’s beautiful sisters mysteriously die on their isolated island estate, one by one.

Annaleigh must unravel the curse that haunts her family. Be careful who you dance with …

Elvis Stork, a Genius Klutz

By Janja Vidmar

  • Published: In a program co-financed as an educational project by the government of Slovenia
  • Rights contact: (
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • All rights outside Slovenia are available

Elvis is unlucky. His father spends all his time at the gym, his mother likes to get on his nerves, his grandmother keeps pestering him to get fit, his younger sister Ella is oddly fixated on collecting creepy-crawlies. And his neighbor is so hot that Elvis gets a suntan just by looking at her.

Elvis is a lover who doesn’t stand a chance with girls, an inventor whose inventions are useless and a babysitter whose wards have to babysit themselves. His relatively uncomplicated life gets complicated when his mom makes an announcement that turns his world upside down.

The book is described as a “humorous and easygoing” novel for the YA sector.

Monster Nanny
Monster Route
Monster Message

By Tuutikki Tolonen (author) and Pasi Pitkänen (illustrator)

  • Publisher: Tammi, a Bonnier compnay
  • Rights contact:
  • Book info: Read more heref

Reported rights sales:

  • Portugal: Editoras Asa/Leya (Monster Nanny, Book 1)
  • Czech Republic: Portál (Monster Route, Book 2)
  • Germany: Carl Hanser Verlag(Monster Message, Book 3)
  • Finland: Tammi (original publisher)
  • Bosnia: Šahinpašic
  • Brazil: DarkSide Books
  • China: Beijing Children’s Publishing House
  • Estonia:  Tiritamm
  • France: Robert Laffont
  • Germany: Carl Hanser Verlag
  • Hunhstyz;  Tessloff Babilon
  • Italy: Salani/Mauri Spagnol
  • Latvia: Zvaigzne
  • The Netherlands: Luitingh-Sijthoff
  • Norway: Gyldendal Norsk
  • Poland: Vesper
  • Portugal: Editoras Asa/Leya
  • Rormania: Editura Univers
  • Russia: Rosman
  • United States: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Book 1)

Scott Free Productions has optioned the work for development with Ridley Scott reportedly co-producing, Screen Australia and Animal Logic doing supporting development.

The story involves a contemporary family whose daily routines are turned upside-down when a hairy, swamp-smelling creature said to be specializing in childcare shows up at their doorstep.

Shoes With Wings

By Maria Papayanni (author) and Fotini Tikkou (illustrator)

From the promotional materials: “Little Rosa is growing up with her father, a fisherman who writes poetry, names cats after poets and speaks in verse. With Rosa suffering an illness, they move to a ground-floor apartment, also known as The Kingdom of Cats. There, Rosa will make new friends like Anna, a formerly great pianist who lives in her car.

“Rosa will dive headlong into the adventure of growing up, in the most unconventional of ways. Step by step she will overcome her movement handicap and discover all that is seen and unseen. All that is and all that pretends to be.

“She will attempt to understand why dead languages are so important. Until then it had never occurred to Rosa that languages die and that fairytales die with them; music and dreams too.”

A full English translation is available. The book has won the Greek IBBY award. Papayanni is nominated for the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award.

Das Jahr, als die benen kamen (The Year the Bees Came)

By Petra Postert

  • Publisher: Tulipan Verlag
  • Rights contact: Stephanie Barrouillet, SB Rights Agency

This title was shortlisted for the French-German Youth Literature Prize 2018.

“When Josy’s grandfather passes away, she inherits his beehive. At first, Josy is confused. Bees have not exactly been her favourite pets up to now. But after a while, with the help of the elderly Alma, her grandfather’s friend, she discovers her love for the little buzzing creatures.


By Arno Strobel

  • Publisher: Loewe Verlag
  • Rights contact: Friederike Fuxen (
  • Book info: Read more here

Cheng-Hui Chen tells us “Spy, by Spiegel-bestselling author Arno Strobel, is his very first series for a younger readership of girls and boys aged 12 and older, about a secret school for kids with special abilities that can support secret services.

“Nick Nader, 12, watches how the wallet of a girl on the street is stolen. He follows the thief and suddenly is able to foresee his movements. He can see in a sort of “slow-motion” which enables him to exactly analyze what the person plans to do.

“Four years later on his first outdoor mission, Nick leaves for London where he gets new hints by a long-time companion of his father leading directly into Buckingham Palace.”

Submit Rights Deals to Publishing Perspectives

Do you have rights deals to report? Agents and rights directors can use our rights deal submission form to send us the information we need. If you have questions, please send them to

As you can see, it is of high importance in titles we choose to list that an image be made available to us, both of the book’s cover and of its author.

In a sale listing, we also require not only the language/territory into which the title has been sold but the name of the publisher in that territory, as well.

The correct format is:

  • Country, Language or Territory: Publisher
  • Country, Language or Territory: Publisher

We recommend you scroll up and look at the examples above in this Rights Roundup. It’s easy to see how this is done. And because formatting these listings takes time, we’ll return your listing to you and cordially ask you to put it into this format if necessary.

We look forward to hearing from you.

More of Publishing Perspectives‘ rights roundups are here, and more on the Bologna Children’s Book Fair is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.