Children’s Rights Roundup: ‘Buy Ukrainian Book Rights’

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Our pre-Bologna Rights Roundup is led by an international industry-wide call to buy and publish Ukrainian books.

Six months prior to Vladimir Putin’s February 24, 2022, invasion of Ukraine, the nation celebrated its 30th Independence Day in Kyiv on August 24, 2021. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Tanhauzer

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

See also: European Publishers Mark Russian Assault Anniversary

A Pre-Bologna Introduction on the Assault
As Publishing Perspectives readers following our Rights Roundups know, the Federation of European Publishers in Brussels today (February 24) is marking the anniversary of Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and savage invasion of Ukraine with a statement of support for the Voices of Children Foundation, which has published a book, War Through the Voices of Children. Proceeds of all sales go to special programs in psychological and emotional support for kids, and our full story on that is here.

As festive as the moment normally might be on the approach to Elena Pasoli’Bologna Children’s Book Fair in its 60th edition, our world industry can do no less than to observe the fact that one year later, the greatest land war in Europe since World War II is going into advanced stages of combat severity and unthinkable casualties; now officially classified crimes against humanity; deepening military complexity and obligations; and—thankfully—intensifying international resolve against Putin and the Russian nation’s unspeakable aggression against the democratic sovereign state of Ukraine.

It’s meaningful to us today that the first of four calls to action described just below is Buy rights to Ukrainian books. We’re particularly mindful of this because in all the many book deals submitted to us for today’s Rights Roundup, not one title was a book originally written in Ukrainian or by a Ukrainian author.

The International Publishers Association (IPA) in Geneva is making a joint statement today with the federation, laying out the two organizations’ concerns about the damage to book publishing and education for Ukrainians under Putin’s violence, which opened on February 24, 2022.

From the IPA, we have these figures:

  • The number of publishers operating in Ukraine has dropped from 1,053 in 2021 to 563 in 2022
  • Educational publishers have been unable to print textbooks for pupils
  • UNICEF reports that more than 2,600 schools have been damaged, affecting 5.3 million children
  • UNESCO has verified damage to 241 cultural sites including museums and libraries

The United States’ secretary of state, Antony Blinken, this morning (February 24) has told the United Nations’ Security Council that in the last year, among Russians’ atrocities have been bombings of more than 2,600 schools and abductions by Russians of at least 6,000 Ukrainian children for relocation to Russia—”some as young as four months old.”

The association and the federation are amplifying a call from the Ukrainian Publishers and Booksellers Association for the world book publishing community to support Ukraine through four key efforts. The industry is encouraged to:

  • Buy rights to Ukrainian books
  • Make Ukrainian books available on bookstore shelves around the world
  • Direct charitable support to Ukrainian libraries to rebuild their collections and buy books
  • Provide financial support for those who have lost loved ones, property and more

The federation has made formal requests to the European Commission and European Parliament for appropriate budgeting to restore the publishing and educational sectors of Ukraine, along with schools and libraries wrecked in the warfare. And we have comments today from several key players.

Karine Pansa

IPA president Karine Pansa: “Our Ukrainian colleagues are an inspiration to us all, continuing to publish from remote offices and bunkers, despite power and internet outages.

“All this while they handle the psychological trauma of losing colleagues and family.

We stand in solidarity with our Ukrainian colleagues.”

Ricardo Franco Levi

Federation president Ricardo Franco Levi: “‘The persistence of being’—the Ukrainian slogan at the 2022 Frankfurter Buchmesse—of Ukrainians must be met by our constant support to their cause.

“Concerning the book sector, our efforts to help them must be not just to safeguard their literary culture but to make it flourish and be read all over the world.”

Stephan de Valk

Stephan de Valk, IPA Educational Publishers Forum chair: “As educational publishers from around the world who want to empower future generations, we are extremely concerned when we learn of the destruction of schools and the impossibility of providing textbooks.

“Between the refugees abroad and those deprived at home, how many children are falling behind in their education? It must stop.”

Kristenn Einarsson

And Kristenn Einarsson, chair of IPA’s Freedom to Publish committee, which awards the IPA Prix Voltaire, which closes its 2023 nominations today: The freedom to publish is being dramatically undermined in Ukraine and with it the ability for Ukrainian culture to present itself to the world.

“This war is not just a geo-political event.

“It is also a war on culture and freedom of expression.”


Our Rights Roundup today—provided by rights directors and international rights literary agents—is compiled with the coming Bologna Children’s Book Fair ahead, and we’re focusing deliberately on young readers’ content, presenting work originating in France, Croatia, Finland, Estonia, the Czech Republic, the United States, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and French-language Canada.

As in each roundup, we use some of the sales copy supplied to us by agents and rights directors, editing that copy to give you an idea about a book’s nature and tone, but limiting the promotional elements. If you’d like to submit a deal to Publishing Perspectives, see the instructions at the end of this article. Our complete series of several years’ Rights Roundups can be found here.


De la beauté
(On the Question of Beauty)

By Annie Bacon
Illustrated by Lavilletlesnuages (Louise Laurent)

  • Publisher: Les 400 coups, Montreal
  • Rights contact: Simon de Jocas, Les 400 coups
  • Book info: Read more here

One reported rights sale:

  • China: CITIC

Author Annie Bacon, left, and illustrator Louise Laurent, known as Lavilletlesnuages

“To the seemingly simple question, “Am I beautiful?” there can be all sorts of answers between “yes,” “no” and “maybe.”

“So why worry so much about it? What if the answers were elsewhere?

“Author Annie Bacon hopes to send a strong message about this coveted, dreamed, manufactured beauty. She is addresses girls and women alike who, for too long, have been under the influence of an unattainable quest, that of perfection.”

Author Annie Bacon works not only in young readers’ books but also as a screenwriter in video games. Illustrator Louise Laurent, known as Lavilletlesnuages, works in advertising and recently won the Prix Jeunes Talents des Agents Associés.


Tube
(Toru)

By Liis Kivirand
Illustrated by Pamela Samel

  • Publisher: Paike ja Pilv, Talinn
  • Rights contact: Stephanie Barrouillet, SB Rights Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

No rights sales reported as yet.

“Tubes are everywhere: beneath the sink, inside toilet paper rolls, and attached to vacuum cleaners.

“Some are used for sipping juice, others for blowing through. There are even tubes inside your own body: take your nostrils, for instance.

“But what do you think might be the longest tube in the world?”

Kivirand and Samel’s book is a winner of the 2023 Bologna Children’s Book Fair Illustrators Exhibition; selected for the 2023 Bologna Ragazzi Awards “Amazing Bookshelf”; and the “dPictus 100” Outstanding Picture Books 2023 showcase.


A Giraffe’s Heart Is Incredibly Large

By Sofia Chanfreau
Illustrated by Amanda Chanfreau

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

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Chinese, simplified: Everafter
  • Czech, Host
  • Danish: Straarup & Co.
  • Estonian: Ühinenud Ajakirjad
  • Italian: Salani
  • Korean: Dasan
  • Slovenian: KUD Sodobnost
  • World Spanish: Océano

Author Sofia Chanfreau, left, and illustrator Amanda Chanfreau

“Vega is 10 years old and lives with her father on Giraffe Island.

“Life goes along in its usual way, which in Vega’s case means anything but usual. She sees things no one else does, like imaginary animals that keep her company. The bathroom is home to a gray bear whose fur is lathered with shampoo, and on the way to school she encounters Atle the asphalt beaver and the crosswalk zebra Zacharias.

“Colored by magical realism, A Giraffe’s Heart Is Unbelievably Large is a tale of longing to be part of a family, to find one’s place in the world, and to be loved as one is. It’s a read for a child alone or for parents and children together.”


This Is Life

By Hazan Turaçtemur and Halil Turaçtemur
Illustrated by Selin Tahtakılıç

  • Publisher: Summersdale Publishing, Chichester
  • Rights contact: Burcu Ünsal, Kalem Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

No rights sales reported as yet.

From left, authors Hazan Turaçtemur and Halil Turaçtemur, and illustrator Selin Tahtakılıç

“Meet ‘Life,’ our friend with its ups and downs. Life is someone with many surprises and tricks up its sleeve.

“It’s both a gift, a game, and also a little bit of confusion. This title is a clever introduction to life.

“Portrayed as a person, different aspects of ‘Life’ are given on each page with humorous illustrations and a graphic design.

“A picture book for many ages.”


How To Do Sports

By Oldřich Růžička
Illustrated by Kateřina Hikadová

  • Publisher: Albatros Media, Prague
  • Rights contact: Tomáš Jodas, Albatros Media
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – French: Bayard Editions
  • Spanish: Edelvives
  • Chinese, complex: Children’s Publications
  • Chinese, simplified: Post Wave

At left is author Oldřich Růžička, with illustrator Kateřina Hikadová

Rated for ages 6 and older, this book is designed in six open-out spreads with gatefolded inserts and booklets.

This book introduces various sports’ terms, rules, and procedures in a comics format.

“In a section on a canoe sprint, you read, “Buoys mark the course for competitors, as well as the starting and finish line.” For windsurfing competition, the text tells the reader, “In windsurfing, competitors use a board equipped with a sail and [are] pushed forward by the wind. The competitor must know how to turn the sail in the direction of the wind to use its power.”

Sections include winter sports, ball games, gymnastics, track and field, bodybuilding, and martial arts. Here’s a video with looks at the various fold-out spreads in the book and the construction’s moving parts:


Grumblebelly Cat

By Magdalena Hai
Illustrated by Teemu Juhani

  • Publisher: Karisto Oy, Hämeenlinna
  • Rights contact: Elsa Lindström, Elina Ahlback Literary Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Taiwan: Morning Star
  • Denmark: Vild Maskine
  • Estonia: Tiritamm
  • Germany: Dressler/Oetinger Verlag
  • Italy: Terre Di Mezzo
  • North Macedonia: Antolog
  • Poland: Widnokrag
  • Sweden: Epix Bokförlag
  • Turkey: Dogan Egmont

Author Magdalena Hai, left, and illustrator Teemu Juhani

“In a barren land, when a little girl meets a gigantic cat that threatens to devour her, she makes it a smart offer. The girl leads the cat across the lands, looking for something to satiate its hunger before it eats her, but they encounter drought, destruction, and people who have nothing to eat except their dreams.

“When the cat gobbles up the girl, she finds something in its belly, something that has made it so hungry.

Grumblebelly Cat is a fairy tale about a contemporary subject, with detailed monochrome illustrations by Teemu Juhani.”


We Love You, Kiki

By Melita Rundek
Illustrated by Vanda Čižmek 

  • Publisher: Ibis Grafika, Zagreb
  • Rights contact: Lina Krnic, Ibis Grafika
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Slovenia: KUD Sodobnost International
  • North Macedonia: Čudna šuma

Author Melita Rundek, left, and illustrator Vanda Čižmek

“Kiki is hiding in the bushes. Why don’t we see him right away? We only see the bushes he hid behind.

“Why is he sad and what problems are bothering him? Are they as real and serious as they seem to him?

“This story carries some lessons and reflections about how you shouldn’t tease someone different from yourself, about how everyone has her or his own peculiarities and problems. In the end, love and acceptance can solve entanglements and difficulties.”


Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers

By Uma Mishra-Newbery and Lina AlHathloul
Illustrated by Rebecca Green

  • Publisher: Astra Publishing House / MineditionUS
  • Rights contact: Marleen Seegers, 2 Seas Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Canada (French): Les 400 coups
  • Germany: Minedition AG
  • South Korea: FIKA

From left are co-authors Uma Mishra-Newbery and Lina AlHathloul, and illustrator Rebecca Green

This book is inspired by formerly imprisoned human rights activist Loujain AlHathloul.

“Loujain watches her beloved baba attach his feathered wings and fly each morning, but her own dreams of flying face a big obstacle: only boys, not girls, are allowed to fly in her country. And yet, despite the taunts of her classmates, she’s determined to do it—especially because Loujain loves colors, and only by flying can she see the color-filled field of sunflowers her baba has told her about.

“Eventually, he agrees to teach her, and Loujain’s impossible dream becomes reality—and soon other girls dare to learn to fly.

“Based on the experiences of co-author Lina AlHathloul’s sister, Havel Human Rights Prize-winner Loujain AlHathloul–who led a successful campaign to lift Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving–this moving, illustrated story reminds us to strive for the changes we want to see—and to never take for granted women’s and girls’ freedoms.”


Pink Is Not a Color

By Lindsay Ward

  • Publisher: Amazon Publishing / Two Lions, Seattle
  • Rights contact: Alex Levenberg and Elisa Fabbri at Amazon Publishing and Sharlene Martin at Martin Literary Agency
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Chinese, simplified: Beijing Double Spiral Culture and Exchange Company
  • Chinese, complex: Yuan-Liou Publishing
  • Portuguese: Alma dos Livros
  • Spanish: Ediciones Obelisco
  • Turkish: Bilgi Yayinevi

Lindsay Ward

“Pink loves her rosy world, from her pink toy dinosaur to her pet flamingo, Phil.

“But when she sees the Primaries and Secondaries getting ready for the Rainbow Extravaganza, she begins to wonder why she isn’t in the rainbow, and if that means she’s not really a color.

“Then she meets the Tints, and she’s even more confused.

“Luckily, a friend shows her the many ways she spreads joy, reminding Pink that she’s truly one of a kind, rainbow or not.”


This cover is for the English translation by Katya Berger Andreadakis

À ton tour
(Over to You)

By John and Yves Berger

  • Publisher: L’Atelier Contemporain, Strasbourg
  • Rights contact: Teresa Pinto (t.pinto@agenciabalcells.com), Agencia Literaria Carmen Balcells
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – English (United States, the Philippines, Canada): Penguin Random House/Knopf
  • Chinese: Beijing Yutian Hanfeng
  • French: L’Atelier Contemporain
  • Korean: Youlhwadang
  • Spanish: Gustavo Gili
  • Turkish: Metis

Not for younger children, but certainly for sons and their fathers of many ages, Over to You collects the correspondence about painting exchanged in 2015 and 2016 between the late John Berger (1926-2017) and his son Yves, himself an artist.

Left, the late John Berger (by Jean Mohr), and Yves Berger

“It begins with a letter, a little heavier than usual. The father has sent his son some reproductions of paintings, along with a few lines, a loving thought. The son answers. A dialogue begins. The letters become longer, deeper and more intimate.

“The letters lengthen, intertwine, intercept each other. Father and son, without necessarily answering each other point by point, seek to echo each other; each explores his intimate experience in order to share it and enrich it with that of the other.

“Sometimes the image is no longer a museum work, but a drawing by John or Yves, or a photograph of their respective daily lives. (John lives in the suburbs of Paris, his son Yves lives in Quincy, in Haute-Savoie.)

“The book is illustrated with famous works referred to by John and Yves, as well as private drawings exchanged over time.”


Submitting Rights Deals to Publishing Perspectives

Do you have rights deals to report? Agents and publishing-house 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

We look forward to hearing from you.


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

More from us on the Federation of European Publishers is here, more on the International Publishers Association is here. And more of our coverage of Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine and its impact on the country’s publishing players and international industry reactions is here.

More from Publishing Perspectives on Bologna Children’s Book Fair is here, more on children’s books is here, more on the Italian market is here, and more on world publishing’s trade shows and book fairs is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the world media partner of the International Publishers Association.

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.