Home News Little Island acquires debut novelist Sam Thompson

Little Island acquires debut novelist Sam Thompson

Little Island acquires middle-grade debut by Booker-longlisted novelist Sam Thompson

Little Island Books will publish the debut children’s book by Booker-longlisted novelist Sam Thompson in 2021. Publisher Matthew Parkinson-Bennett acquired world rights from Eleanor Birne at the Pew Literary Agency. Little Island founder and Consulting Publisher, Siobhán Parkinson, has described Wolfstongue as “the most exciting manuscript from a debut children’s author we have read in a decade of publishing”.

A philosophical fable about the power of language and the relationship between humans and the natural world, Wolfstongue tells the story of aboy with speech problems who enters a hidden world of talking animals. When he befriends a family of wolves who have been enslaved by scheming, articulate foxes, the boy must face his own struggle with words to help the wolves win back their freedom.

Belfast-based Sam Thompson’s debut novel Communion Town (Fourth Estate) was longlisted for the 2012 Booker Prize and Jott (John Murray) was shortlisted for the 2019 Encore Award. His short fiction has appeared recently in The Tangerine, Still Worlds Turning (No Alibis Press), on BBC Radio 4 and in Best British Short Stories 2019 (Salt Publishing). He has written for the Times Literary Supplement and the London Review of Books. He teaches English literature and creative writing at Queen’s University, Belfast.

Thompson says of Wolfstongue

“I started writing Wolfstongue for my son, who has speech difficulties and has always loved wolves. I thought of the medieval tales about the trickster Reynard the Fox and his hapless rival Isengrim the Wolf, and I wanted to tell a story in which the tongue-tied wolf gets the better of the smooth-talking fox for once. I hope the book takes readers on an adventure while also offering them a myth that they may find useful: a myth about how language can trap us or make us free, about the self-doubt we feel when we can’t find the words we need, and about how human stories have power to shape the natural world. As a writer, it’s wonderful to work with a publisher that cares for your book as much as you do yourself—and that’s why I’m thrilled that Wolfstongue has found a home with Little Island.”

Siobhán Parkinson adds:

Wolfstongue is quite possibly the most thrilling piece of work ever to land in our submissions inbox out of the blue and it totally knock our socks off. We often get super adventure stories; we occasionally get a really thoughtful novel that is subtle and layered and explores ideas without ever actually laying those ideas out for analysis; and even more rarely we get truly stunning prose. To get all these in one book is almost unheard-of. We weren’t at all surprised to find that Sam Thompson is already a respected author for adults; and yet that was in a way surprising, because his voice as a children’s writer is unerring. Wolfstongue is not so much a gem of a book as a whole treasure trove.”

Wolfstongue will publish in May 2021. A preorder campaign will be launched in early 2021. For further information please contact Matthew Parkinson-Bennett – matthew.pb@littleisland.ie