The Piano at the Station, an “insightful and touching novella” by actor and comedian Helen Rutter, has been acquired by Barrington Stoke.

World English-language rights were sold to publisher Ailsa Bathgate at Barrington Stoke by Chloe Seager. The Piano at the Station will be illustrated in black and white by award-winning illustrator Elisa Paganelli and released in July. Narrated by fiery heroine Lacey, the publisher says Rutter’s new novel speaks to the challenges children can face both in the school system and at home and how the chance to make music can change a life forever.

Its synopsis continues: “Lacey’s smart tongue and quick temper are always getting her confined to isolation at school. But there’s a lot more to Lacey that most people never see. When she gets sent to lunchtime music lessons to keep her out of trouble, she discovers a love and talent for the piano that opens up a whole new world for her. Just as she’s really beginning to make progress, however, her music teacher has to leave, which throws Lacey back into turmoil. Will she go back to her self-destructive ways or will music help her find a new way forward?”

Rutter’s debut, The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh (Scholastic, 2021), was awarded the Teach Primary Book Award, selected as a Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month, and shortlisted for the Costa, Blue Peter and Branford Boase awards.

Rutter said: “I am so thrilled to be working with Barrington Stoke and I absolutely loved writing The Piano at the Station. I have always thought there was something completely magical about the pianos in train stations and Lacey is such a funny and feisty character. I really enjoyed telling her story.”

Bathgate said: “Helen really understands and has so much compassion for the children she writes in her stories, and Lacey is a girl that many people will recognise. She’s one of those children who self-sabotages and is constantly in trouble but also has so much potential if only someone would take some interest in her and nurture her. This is an incredibly touching story but Lacey is also so naturally funny that you can’t help but root for her. I believe that our readers will really take her to their hearts.”

Congratulations Helen!