Rights Roundup: Quick Sales for a Vietnamese Conservationist and Her Sun Bear

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

A high-profile environmental activist, Trang Nguyen is releasing her first book for young readers. She and Sorya the sun bear are making rights sales fast.

Trang Nguyen, 2018, at the Royal Burger’s Zoo in Arnhem, set in the Veluwe, a nature park in the Netherlands. Image: CC BY-SA 4.0, Nanook 2018

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

‘Saving Sorya’ Is Just Out in the States
We usually like to open a Rights Roundup with the headshots of authors and illustrators behind the books and rights transactions we’re reporting, but today we’re using our top-image space for a shot of author Trang Nguyen, a leading wildlife activist whose new book is illustrated by Jeet Zdung.

A detail from Jeet Zdung’s illustrations for ‘Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear.’ Image: PRH Dial Books

Nguyen Thi Thu Trang is a highly regarded environmental advocate who has spent much of her career in the deep field, working to save endangered animals from poaching in Africa and Asia.

Her book, Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear (Pan Mac in London, releasing September 30, and Penguin Random House’s Dial Books in New York, just out this week), is semi-autobiographical, capturing some of the youthful enthusiasm and determination that made her the articulate, high-profile conservationist she is today.

Nguyen, took her PhD in biodiversity management at Cambridge and is the founding CEO of WildAct, a nonprofit that helps monitor illegal wildlife trade markets. A key focus of her earliest work was in the Asian traditional medicine trade and the impact of its reliance on poached animal body parts on African wildlife. She was awarded the Future for Nature Award in 2018. This is her first children’s book.

Her illustrator, Jeet Zdung, is also Vietnamese. He brings together traditional art motifs from his culture and manga, using pencils, watercolor, ink, and digital rendering techniques. This is his first work published in the States. He’s based in Hanoi.

Our submission of the book and its rights action so far is from Marianne Fournier at Pan Macmillan in London, and it starts off our listings today. Scroll down to learn more.

At the end of today’s roundup, we have our headshots of all the authors and illustrators you’ll find in this edition of Rights Roundup.

Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear

By Trang Nguyen
Illustrated by Jeet Zdung

  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan, London
  • Rights contact: Marianne Fournier, Pan Macmillan
  • Book info: Read more here

This book is set to publish September 30 in the United Kingdom.
In the United States, ‘Saving Sorya’ was released September 14 by Penguin Random House’s Dial Books

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Russian: AST
  • Norwegian: Fontini
  • Turkish: Ayrinti
  • Simplified Chinese: Jieli
  • Korean: Bookdream
  • United States: Penguin Random House

Promotional copy: “At the age of 8, Chang witnesses a sun bear being harmed to extract its bile for use in traditional medicine. That night, she makes a promise to protect Vietnam’s animals and decides to become a conservationist. Follow the story of how Chang succeeds against the odds and saves Sorya the sun bear.”

Trang Nguyen was included in a list of internationally influential women by the BBC in 2019 and was on Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list in 2020.

The sun bear, by the way, is the smallest bear, less than three feet tall, and named for a patch of golden fur on its chest. The sun bear sleeps in sunlight in trees and is found in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia.

Nguyen appears in the 2020 documentary from filmmaker Kerry David, Breaking Their Silence: Women on the Frontline of the Poaching War.

This summer it became available on the re-branded streaming network Wondrium, as reported in May by Diane Haithman for The Wrap. In a descriptive line about David’s film, you’ll read, “From game rangers and veterinarians to prosecutors, forensic scientists, and undercover operatives, these inspirational women have only one goal: preventing further loss of our planet’s most endangered species.”

If you don’t know this film, we can recommend it to you as a depiction of extraordinary courage and commitment. Here is its original trailer:

(Dit du går, följer jag)

By Lina Nordquist

  • Publisher: Bonnier/Romanus & Selling, Stockholm
  • Rights contact: Kaisa Palo, Ahlander Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Croatia: Fraktura
  • Czech Republic: Host
  • Denmark: Gutkind
  • Estonia: Eesti Raamat
  • Finland: Schildts & Söderströms
  • France: Buchet Chastel
  • Germany: Diogenes
  • Hungary: Európa
  • Lithuania: Baltos Lankos
  • Norway: Gyldendal
  • Russia: AST

“A tale about love, family secrets, and human perseverance. Lina Nordquist chronicles the lives of two women living in the same cottage, 70 years apart in age from each other.

“She jumps between two timelines and perspectives in alternating chapters, weaving together the stories of Unni and Kåra across the decades that separate them. Part heart-wrenching emigrant story and part dark and twisty family drama.”

The Lynx Factor

By Leena Lehtolainen

  • Publisher: Tammi, Helsinki
  • Rights contact: Toomas Aasmäe, Elina Ahlback Literary Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Germany: Rowohlt

This year’s crime novel by the popular Finnish crime author Leena Lehtolainen is described as a “standalone sequel” in the “Bodyguard” series, the fifth title in that group of books.

Promotional copy calls it a “dense mystery” set in a claustrophobic space “that shows that even a lavish setting and the latest technology cannot protect people from their unpredictable natures.”

“Hilja Ilveskero is hired by a secret nature holiday center for the super-rich in eastern Lapland called Ilvesvaara,” the title of the book in Finnish. “The owner of the place fears the worst security threat is coming from the inside.”

The place turns out to be a theme park which caters to only eight guests at a time. And sure enough, the Agatha Christie thing sets in: “When millionaire Aku disappears, everyone in the resort comes under suspicion, including Hilja. Why doesn’t Aku’s wife want to report the disappearance to the police? Why did so many people in Ilvesvaara know Aku?”

Gaspard in the Night
(Gaspard de la nuit)

By Seng Soun Ratanavanh

  • Publisher: La Martinière Jeunesse, Paris
  • Rights contact: Pascale Charpenet, La Martinière Jeunesse
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – World English: Princeton Architectural Press
  • German: Knesebeck
  • Korean: Grass and Wind Publishing
  • Greek : Psichogios
  • Italian: Gallucci
  • Lithuanian: Apkabink Menuli

When Gaspard can’t sleep, he’s led around the house by a friendly mouse, who helps him feel okay and safe with all the shadows and darkness.

You think you know this title, of course, because you do. It’s the name of Maurice Ravel’s extremely difficult 1909 three-movement fantasia for piano. And Ravel got the phrase from Persian, the “gaspard of the night” being the nighttime treasurer of the royal riches. It’s also the title of an 1842 book by Aloysius Bertrand, who attributes the book’s stories to a man met in a park in Dijon. That man turns out to be Satan.

The current children’s book by Ratanavanh draws on her work as a designer trained at Paris’ National School of Fine Arts.

The Bear and the Butterfly

Illustrated by Marjie Tolman
Based on Margaret Wise Brown’s poem

  • Publisher: Borim Press, Gyeonggi
  • Rights contact: Chiara Tognetti, Chiara Tognetti Rights Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – French: Albin Michel
  • Dutch: Querido

“A bear and a butterfly had a fight, you say? And the butterfly won? This poetry picture book contains a six-line poem by Margaret Wise Brown, the legendary American children’s book writer, and illustrations by Dutch artist Marije Tolman.

“An atmospheric, unexpected story of the bear and the butterfly, and experience the magic and strength of hundreds of butterflies shimmering in the sky.

The late Margaret Wise Brown was born in 1910 in Brooklyn and died in 1952 in Nice.

The Eighth Maiden: Out of the Game
(Detective Anna Glad series)

By Eva Frantz

  • Publisher: Schildts & Söderströms, Helsinki
  • Rights contact: Urtė Liepuoniūtė, Helsinki Literary Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Germany: Aufbau
  • Denmark: Gyldendal
  • Estonia: Rahva raamat
  • Sweden: Sekwa

“Anna Glad is not a typical crime-solving genius. Instead, she’s a bit of a clumsy person with a great sense of humor–and very relatable to any of us.

“With more than 55,000 copies sold in Finland, Anna Glad remains one of the favorite police investigators among the readers.”

Authors and illustrators featured in this Rights Roundup are, on the upper row from left,
Trang Nguyen; Jeet Zdung; Lina Nordquist; and Leena Lehtolainen. And on the lower row, from left, are Seng Soun Ratanavanh; Margaret Wise Brown; Marjie Tolman; and Eva Frantz

Submitting 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 Porter@PublishingPerspectives.com

Getting images to us. Please don’t send us images by Google Drive if the system will require us to ask your permission to retrieve those images. (It can take too long for our deadlines before that permission request reaches you.) Likewise, please don’t send us images by WeTransfer or a similar service. (Those expire, often before we can download your material.) If for some reason you cannot get images into our submission form, feel free to just drop them to us in an email (Porter@PublishingPerspectives.com) or in a Dropbox folder (non-expiring access) and send us a link to that folder in the submission form.

Categories. We get more submissions in children’s books than in others, and while we enjoy children’s books in the industry as much as anyone–please do keep sending them–we’d also like to see more of the following to help us balance our roundups:

  • Adult Fiction
  • Adult Nonfiction – particularly narrative nonfiction, political, historical, biographical, memoir, and philosophical categories
  • Young Adult

Repeat submissions. We receive great submissions from many parts of the world and once we’ve carried a title, we’d like to give other work a chance to be featured rather than repeating that title–unless there’s major news developing around that previously used title that makes it a good candidate for a second listing. If one of your titles has previously appeared in our Rights Roundups but there’s a good reason you think it should be listed again, please be sure to drop us an email and let us know (Porter@PublishingPerspectives.com).

We look forward to hearing from you.

More of Publishing Perspectives‘ rights roundups are here, and more from us on international rights trading is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing 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.com, 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.