Children’s Books Edition: Pre-Frankfurt Rights Roundup

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Our Rights Roundup of children’s titles has work originating in Turkey, France, Finland, Germany, Singapore, Spain, and the Czech Republic.

From ‘Pop-Up Ocean’ by Olivier Charbonnel, Anne Jankéliowitch, and Annabelle Buxton, from Éditions La Martinière Jeunesse–one of our titles in this pre-Frankfurt Rights Roundup

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

See also: Frankfurt’s 75th Edition: Two Agents’ ‘LitAg Moments’

Frankfurt ‘LitAg Moments,’ and More
Today (September 29), be sure to check our look at the “LitAg Moments” of literary agents Anna Soler-Pont and Magalie Delobelle, just published overnight. Entertaining, yes, but also informative and insightful. You’ll enjoy them.

And would you like to share with us a “LitAg Moment” or “Frankfurt Moment” of your own with us? Drop your text to me with a photo of yourself and—only if you have one handy—a pertinent photo from the fair. Just send it to Porter@PublishingPerspectives.com and put “LitAg Moment” or “Frankfurt Moment” in the subject line, we’d be delighted to hear from you.

Meanwhile, the United Nations’ International Translation Day arrives on Saturday (September 30) and as we open our children’s books Rights Roundup here today, we’d like to call your attention to the nonprofit Words Without Borders’ highlighting of some key children’s books in translation put together by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, Kelly Zhang, and Hongyu Jasmine Zhu.

Image: Words Without Borders

Many of these are well-known to our international rights-specialist readership, of course, but it’s good to see the collection and today is when our fine group of literary agents are here to add, they hope, some new works to such lists ahead of Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 18 to 22).

On the topic of Translation Day, the Singapore Translation Symposium runs Saturday and Sunday (September 20 and October 1) at the beautiful Arts House—the old legislature building, a real jewel—and its programming is listed here.

A New Agency in Iceland

From left, Valgerdur (Vala) Benediktsdottir, Stella Johannesdottir. and Thora Eiriksdottir are at the newly opened Reykjavik Literary Agency specializing in rights sales, and under the ownership of Forlagið. Image: RLA

Reykjavik Literary Agency will be at Frankfurt for the first time—Hall 4.1, B10. It’s owned by Iceland’s largest publisher, Forlagið. Our readers will recall that Stella Johannesdottir, who directs the biennial Reykjavík International Literary Festival, returned in March to the company as its senior agent, and the plan at the time was to develop the agency.

With a party planned for the agency on October 19 at Frankfurt, Johannesdottir says that while the agency is owned by the publishing house, it’s “functioning autonomously” and is representing authors not just from Forlagið but from other houses, as well.

Agents Valgerdur Benediktsdottir (called Vala) and Thora Eiriksdottir are working on selling rights to publishers at RLA, with Johannesdottir focusing on film and television. “With the global demand for audiobooks, television adaptations, and films soaring,” Johannesdottir says, “RLA wants to ensure that Icelandic authors thrive in this new era.”

The agency is working in rights sales directly and through sub-agents, and began its operations on May 25.

And we’ll start our Rights Roundup with a series set in Southeast Asia and intended to interest young readers in the maker culture and related fields. It’s being presented to us by Stephanie Barrouillet, whose SB Rights Agency in Frankfurt will be in Hall 6.1/D100.


Another Rights Roundup—for general titles, not limited to children’s books—is set for October 6.

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.


The Makers Club series
By Reimena Yee
Illustrated by Tintin Pantoja

  • Publisher: Difference Engine, Singapore
  • Rights contact: Stephanie Barrouillet, SB Rights Agency (at Frankfurt: Hall 6.1/D100)
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • World English (excluding Singapore and Malaysia): Andrews McMeel Publishing

Reimena Yee, left, and Tintin Pantoja

“Timid artist Nadia is in awe of her new teammate. Priya is a gamer, she’s smart, and she knows how to code.

“So the environmental video game they are building should win the top prize at the Pangolin Secondary School Science Fair, right?

“But Nadia and Priya soon discover that there’s a lot more to making a game than coding and sprites.”

This is a series set in Southeast Asia by an author and illustrator from the region. The work is intended to motivate kids to explore “maker culture” and topics in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM).


Wie anders ist alt?
(How Different Is Old?)

By Bettina Obrecht
Illustrated by

  • Publisher: Tulipan Verlag, Munich
  • Rights contact: Nelli Oswald, Tulipan Verlag (At Frankfurt: 3.0/F131)
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Spanish & Catalan: Lóguez Ediciones
  • Complex Chinese: Les Gouttes Press
  • Korean: Lime Company
  • Simplified Chinese: Shanghai Juvenile & Children’s Publishing House

Bettina Obrecht (image: Felix Obrecht), left, and Julie Völk

“Grandma, what is it like to be old?

“While you like laughing or dancing or singing no matter how old you are, other things like the perception of time or expectations you have differ depending on your age.

“In a dialogue between grandchild and grandmother, Bettina Obrecht raises philosophical questions about age: What constitutes being a child and what constitutes a latter stage of life? And which feelings are simply human, no matter how old you are?”

This book was shortlisted in 2023 for the German Youth Literature Prize.


Un león en el supermercado
By Mikel Valverde

  • Publisher: Grupo SM, Madrid
  • Rights contact: Paula Esparraguera, Ute Körner Literary Agency (At Frankfurt: Hall 6.2/LitAg)
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – The Netherlands: Querido
  • Korea: Muffinbook

Mikel Valverde

“Imanol knows for sure: there is a lion in the supermarket.

“As his mother doesn’t believe him and nobody seems scared, he decides to keep an eye on the lion.

“The beast has planned to eat children in one bite. Will Imanol manage to save everyone from the lion?”

Esparraguera says that this text, for early readers, includes rhyming.


Pop-Up Ocean
By Olivier Charbonnel, Anne Jankéliowitch, Annabelle Buxton

  • Publisher: Éditions La Martinière Jeunesse, Paris
  • Rights contact: Pascale Charpenet, Éditions La Martinière Jeunesse (At Frankfurt: Hall 5.0/D96)
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Complex Chinese: Holiu
  • Spanish, Catalan, Basque: Edelvives
  • Italian: Franco Cosimo Panini

From left are Olivier Charbonnel, Anne Jankeliowitch, and Anne Buxton

This is a book said to be for ages 6 to 10. It contains 22 pages and five pop-ups and animations.

“Take your breath as you open this book and, 1, 2, 3… dive into the ocean.

“Witness its birth and that of the first underwater life. Come admire its magnificent corals and the beauty of its biodiversity.

“Board incredible ships, and discover its extraordinary legends.”


A Big Juicy Earthworm
By Katarína Macurová

  • Publisher: Albatros Media US, Prague
  • Rights contact: Tomáš Jodas, Albatros Media (At Frankfurt: 6.1/A28)
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Newest – Country: Publisher
  • Country: Publisher

Katarína Macurová

“Once there were three friends, Pipo, Bud, and Kenny, who were always thinking up new ways to play.

“They were always at their happiest when they were together. Until one day Pipo didn’t fancy eating watermelon like the others. Off he went and found an unusual earthworm, which wasn’t going to leave the earth without a bitter struggle. After battling and defeating his adversary, Pipo discovered something he hadn’t expected.

“A funny new story for spring by an author of children’s books about how nice it is sometimes to do something different.”

Note: We are seeing two English-language titles on this book: A Big Juicy Earthworm and A Big Tasty Earthworm. They appear to be the same.


Deep Forest
By Merve Atilgan

  • Publisher: Can Çocuk, Istanbul
  • Rights contact: Burcu Unsal, Kalem Agency (At Frankfurt: 6.2/LitAg)
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • No rights sales reported

Merve Altigan

“Sometimes creativity sparks when one has nothing to do. Imagination can take your hand and lead you to magical journeys.

“In the first picture book by the illustrator Merve Atılgan, she introduces us to a girl whose imagination runs wild.

“Whenever she has nothing to do she visits the ‘Deep Forest.’ Just a pinch of will and imagination is enough to prompt her to go to the deepest corners of the forest or to rest near a lake nobody has visited before.”


Benjamin Bateman and the Curse of the Mind-Popping Pranks
By Hannele Lampela
Illustrated by Pasi Pitkänen

  • Publisher: Ottava, Helsinki
  • Rights contact: Anna Kappauf, Elina Ahlbäck Literary Agency (At Frankfurt: Hall 6.2/LitAg)
  • Book info: Read more here

Reported rights sales:

  • Danish: Bogoo

Hannele Lampela and Pasi Pitkänen

This is the second book in a middle-grade series.

“How is the awkward superhero Benjamin Bateman managing when his arch-enemies are circling everywhere?

“Some weirdo succeeds in messing up Benjamin’s life with little tricks: there’s salt in his hot chocolate and toothpaste all over the toilet.

“Who on Earth would do that? And the scary Mortem has not stopped chasing Benjamin. In order to take control of the situation, Benjamin has to learn to harness his powers: a vivid imagination and a good heart.”


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.

In the LitAg at the 2016 Frankfurter Buchmesse. Image: FBM, Marc Jacquemin


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