Bologna Announces the Poetry Winner of its 2021 Ragazzi Awards

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Ediciones Ekaré editor Adolfo Córdova wins in the special poetry category, with Juan Palomino’s illustrations.

From this year’s Bologna Ragazzi Prize winning poetry anthology with Juan Palomino’s illustrations. Image: Ediciones Ekaré

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

A Spanish Poetry Anthology Takes the Top Honor
As Publishing Perspectives readers know, Bologna Children’s Book Fair‘s annual Ragazzi Awards is an internationally popular contest for recognition in illustrated books, taking into account graphic design, innovation, and appeal to younger readers.

Today (May 27), the program has announced that editor Adolfo Córdova and illustrator Juan Palomino of the Caracas-based Ediciones Ekaré (which has offices in Santiago and Barcelona) are the 2021 winners of the Bologna Ragazzi Award’s special poetry category.

Their Cajita de fósforos: Antología de poemas sin rima (Matchbox: An Anthology of Poems Without Rhyme) is described by the jury as “a valuable anthology of excellent Ibero-American poems composed in free verse.”

In its rationale, the jury writes, “The curator Adolfo Córdova has made an impeccable selection of poetic texts that children can grasp and appreciate despite not all being written specifically for them. A great deal of research and a solid architecture of the volume contribute to this result.

“Juan Palomino’s astonishing plates complete and expand the lines at the same time, while the images, rich in color and dramatic expressiveness, leave ample room for the active imagination of the readers.

“This artfully designed book features some of the greatest Argentine, Mexican, and Chilean writers, such as Borges, Fuentes, and Mistral, along with lesser-known poets, past and present, from many other countries, such as María José Ferrada, Jorge Luján, and María Teresa Andruetto.

“The poetic sensitivity of Córdova, the attitude towards young readers, the refined interpretation of the texts by Palomino,  make Cajita de fósforos a triumphant winner.”

You can see samples of text and deft artwork from the book in an Issuu display provided by the publisher on its site here.

The Bologna Ragazzi Award’s poetry jury this year has comprised:

  • Chiara Basile, founder of the Lèggere Leggére bookshop and organizer of the Junior Poetry Festival (Italy)
  • Denis Beznosov, deputy director of the Russian State Children’s Library (Russia)
  • Caterina Ramonda, author, translator, expert in print and digital children’s publishing (Italy)
  • Morag Styles, professor of children’s poetry at Cambridge University and an emeritus fellow with Homerton College (UK)

As ever, a key criterion for the Raggazi Award jurors is how well a book’s text relates to its illustrations. Perhaps less anticipated by some is a criterion that a text must “speak to the emotions, stimulating wider reflections.”

The Ragazzi awards comprise categories including fiction; nonfiction; opera prima for unpublished authors and illustrators; comics; and a “new horizons” award for an especially innovative book. Those are yet to be announced.

This year’s “special category” is poetry, and the jury has provided one winner and four special mentions.

Bologna Ragazzi Award 2021 Winners

Cover art from the four specially commended books in the 2021 Bologna Ragazzi Awards. Images: BCBF

Author / Editor Title Illustrator Publisher
Winner: Adolfo Córdova, editor Cajita de fósforos: Antología de poemas sin rima Juan Palomino Ediciones Ekaré, Venezuela, 2020
Special mention: Animo Chen, author Love Letter Animo Chen Locus Publishing, Taiwan, 2020
Special mention: Fiona Waters, editor Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright Britta Teckentrup Nosy Crow, United Kingdom, 2020
Special mention: María José Ferrada Niños María Elena Valdez Alboroto ediciones, Mexico, 2020
Special mention: Joseph Coelho The Girl Who Became a Tree: A Story Told in Poems Kate Milner Otter-Barry Books, United Kingdom, 2020
The Coming Bologna Fair

As Publishing Perspectives know, Bologna will stage its all-digital edition this year June 14 to 17, with several additional program elements set for the week of June 7. Registration is open now, free of charge, and details are here.

More awards are included in the annual programming, of course, most notably the Bologna Prize for the Best Children’s Publisher of the Year.  That one is organized in coordination with both the Italian publishers’ association (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE) led by Ricardo Franco Levi, and the International Publishers Association.

Another one to watch, the Bologna Ragazzi Cross-Media Award, is geared to highlighting “publishing projects that expand their narrative universe towards other media and, vice-versa , the narratives born elsewhere that land on paper.”

This year, for some reason, the Bologna program’s organizers are calling the Ragazzi Award “the BRAW” for “Bologna Ragazzi Award”–just one L short of a brawl. And perhaps when the jury found an impressive 210 submissions waiting for them from 28 countries and territories, the experience of selection did get a bit scrappy.

We’ll stick to the prize’s actual name, not least because we’d like to see the ragazzi of the world–boys and the men they grow into–brawl less and read more. As girls and women do. But what’s more, announcing to friends with rightful joy that you’ve won “the BRAW” easily could be misunderstood as a great victory in the underwear department.

More details of Bologna’s ramp-up is ahead as we have it.

At the Bologna Children’s Book Fair awards presentation ceremony in 2019. Image: BCBF


More from Publishing Perspectives on Italy and its book publishing industry is here. More on Bologna Children’s Book Fair is here, more from us on children’s books is here, more on publishing and book awards is here, and more on world publishing’s trade shows and book fairs is here

More from Publishing Perspectives on the coronavirus pandemic 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 2019 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 also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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