In Wales: Graffeg Buys World Rights to a Kids’ Book on Immigration

In News by Porter Anderson

‘The Dandelion’s Tale’ by Margaret Anne Suggs is being published by Graffeg Books and focuses on ‘opening conversations’ with young readers about immigration.

Graffeg Books’ publishing director Matthew Howard, left, and CEO Peter Gill. They acquired world rights to ‘The Dandelion’s Tale’ directly from author Margaret Anne Suggs. Image: Graffeg Books

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

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Suggs: ‘Weeds are Just Flowers in the Wrong Place’
As Publishing Perspectives readers know, the world publishing community has made many thoughtful efforts to support children who are refugees and otherwise displaced.

Such programs have ranged, for example, from the United Arab Emirates’ Kalimat Foundation’s efforts to provide books to Arabic children in diaspora to, more recently, books for children in multiple programs targeting kids and libraries in Ukraine during the Russian assault as well as Ukrainian children now living outside the country. As the world watches the crisis in Gaza deepen—and the suffering widen—it’s clear that yet another profound event in human displacement is underway.

In Wales, Graffeg Books—operating Cardiff—has acquired world rights to illustrator and author Margaret Anne Suggs for her forthcoming The Dandelion’s Tale, an allegorical take on immigration featuring a family of dandelions.

Suggs’ The Dandelion’s Tale was longlisted in 2021 for the DPictus program of picture book awards; many of our international readership may have been aware of DPictus at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

Suggs is hardly a stranger to grappling with what many might feel are “advanced” topics for young readers. For example, her 2021 Holy Shocking Saints with writer Síne Quinn (Veritas Books) is about how a dozen “remarkable people had to conduct, endure, or witness shocking deeds throughout their lives.” In that one, rated for readers aged 7 and older, you learn about Lí Ban, who is transformed into a mermaid for 300 years, for example, and Colmcille’s confrontation with the Loch Ness Monster.

And she’s no stranger to being in a strange land.

Suggs is originally from the American South, a place of many dandelions, and is a longtime transplant to County Dublin.

Margaret Anne Suggs

Having taken an MA in visual communications and another in the history of design and applied arts from the National College of Art and Design, she has served on the board of Ireland’s chapter of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBYIre) and lectures at Ballyfermont College where she founded an illustration program.

About The Dandelion’s Tale, Suggs says, “I believe that to foster empathy, every child should have stories about the experiences of immigrants. In this allegory, the dandelions—who are just weeds  after all—are made to move on when they’re confronted with tools, machines, and potions. They float away, taking their hopes with them, and journey to find a peaceful place to reseed and settle.  

“Everyone is familiar with cheerful yellow dandelions, and yet they are so underappreciated.

“I’m delighted that everyone at Graffeg is a fan of dandelions,” she says. “They understand that ‘weeds’ are just flowers in the wrong place.”

Howard: ‘Laden With Meaning’

Graffeg publishing director Matthew Howard says he expects to have The Dandelion’s Tale on the market in July.

He and the press’ CEO Peter Gill acquired the rights directly from Suggs, who handles her own contracts and works without an agent, according to the Graffeg team.

For sales of its own books’ international rights, Graffeg uses a rights agency called the Rights Solution.

Bethan Blake-Abed-Ali at Graffeg tells Publishing Perspectives, “We’ve sold quite a few of our children’s books into other territories and languages, including Simplified Chinese, Turkish, Romanian, German, French, Italian, and Korean gaining

Among the press’ bestselling titles, she says, are Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson and Tiphanie Beeke; Mouse & Mole by Joyce Dunbar and James Mayhew; and Molly and the Lighthouse.

About The Dandelion’s Tale, Howard, the publishing director, says, “‘An allegory on issues facing refugees as they seek to make a home outside of their native land, this is both timely and easy to read, as well as laden with meaning.

“Author and illustrator Margaret Suggs has created a story that’s perfect for opening conversations concerning the plight of those forced to migrate, and we’re delighted she’s chosen Graffeg to publish it.”

Peter Gill founded Graffeg 20 years ago as a house focused on nonfiction books about food, art, music, culture and heritage, architecture, gardens, photography, sport, and lifestyle—alongside illustrated books for young readers. In addition to the Cardiff offices, the company has distribution and fulfillment from an office in Carmarthenshire’s market town, Llanelli.

Matthew Howard joined the press seven years after it was formed, in 2010. International orders today are handled by Wordery, for free shipping overseas.

Those interested in information on translation rights for The Dandelion’s Tale can contact Graffeg at Catalogue pages can be found here.

More from Publishing Perspectives on children’s books is here, more on rights and liscensing is here, more on Wales is here, and more on political issues and 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 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.