By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
This Year’s Special Category: PoetryAn eye-watering 2,215 books were submitted from 62 nations for this year’s Bologna Children’s Book Fair‘s Bologna Ragazzi Awards. Consider that with 1,577 submissions coming in last year, the difference alone—638 titles—is enough to make some book-competition jurors run out of the room. So heavy was the interest that the deadline for entries was extended from the 14th to the 28th of January.
The Bologna organizing team reports “new and eclectic” trends emerging from that mountain of submissions, “with the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic as an underlying theme running throughout.”
France gets bragging rights this year, with four of the eight lead awards. Canada is next, with two. And one award each goes to Latvia and Italy.
In fiction, Bologna reports “themes including children as both individuals and groups, notably often in outdoor settings. The trend toward inter-generational caring relationships drew some works toward death, suffering, and sadness, as well as some elements of the past, and responsibility to the environment. In nonfiction, language seems to have been a focus, and with “graphic design and illustrations being used to convey the essence of language.
“Many examples from different cultures,” the report from jurors tells us, “explored language through anagrams, palindromes, and plays-on-meaning. Similar trends were seen in the various literary genres.”
Comic book production has continued its growth, we’re told, and tends increasingly to we targeting younger readers. “Stylistic horizons,” as the jurors put it, “are being pushed back to combine two different traditions: the comic and the picture book.” This trend, they say, is often led by publishers “new to comic book production and eager to experiment with freer styles and narrative approach.”
And it’s a good year for poetry to be made the program’s special category for this year (last year it was cross-media work): “Poetry received even more candidates this year,” jurors say, including submissions from new countries including Iceland. “Entirely new poetry series have been created targeting new readers and offering works from different languages.”
One of the best elements of this big jump in submissions is that some 21 more countries and regions have participated this time, up from 41 last year. New countries include:
- Hong Kong (with five publishers)
- The Philippines
What’s more, three African countries are participating this year for the first time:
- South Africa
This year’s seriously hardy jury panels met in Bologna for two days of “full immersion,” as fair organizers put it, poring over long tables of submitted books, reading, discussing, comparing notes. After we give you the winners here, we’ll add the names of these people of such stamina, the jurors who have selected the top content of the year.
Organizers tell us that key themes in this year’s strongest material have included inter-generational caring relationships; debate around language, and the quest for even better graphic design.
The Ragazzi program is designed to boost the visibility of strong content in children’s books in a way that can help support international rights sales and the work of authors, illustrators, and publishers
The categories in this year’s Ragazzi Awards are:
- Opera Prima (debut work)
- Early Reader
- Middle Grade
- Young Adult
- New Horizons (innovation, at the jury’s discretion)
- Special category this year: Poetry
Bologna Ragazzi Award 2021 Winners
|Fiction||À qui appartiennent les nuages?||Mario Brassard||Gérard DuBois||Les Éditions de la Pastèque (2021)||Canada|
|Nonfiction||Monstres Sacrés: Voyage au cœur des volcans||Julie Roberge||Aless MC||Les Éditions de la Pastèque (2021)||Canada|
|Opera Prima (debut)||Les Reflets d’Hariett||Marion Kadi||Marion Kadi||L’Agrume (2021)||France|
|New Horizons||Laimes bērni||Luīze Pastore||Evija Pintāne||Liels un mazs (2021)||Latvia|
|Comics: Early Reader||Bienvenue à Bibiville||Éponine Cottey||Éponine Cottey||Éditions 2024 (2021)||France|
|Comics: Middle Grade||Teatro di natura||Michelangelo Setola||Michelangelo Setola||Canicola Associazione culturale (2021)||Italy|
|Comics: YA||Polly||Isabelle Pralong||Fabrice Melquiot||Éditions La Joie de lire (2021)||France|
|Poetry||Immenses sont leurs ailes||Maurielle Szac||Nathalie Novi||Éditions Bruno Doucey||France|
Those 2022 jurors—the people with the stamina to handle more than 2,200 submissions—were led by the group handling fiction, nonfiction, debut work, and the New Horizons categories:
- Olivia Ahmad, a British curator and editor, graphic arts and design specialist, the artistic director at London’s House of Illustration (United Kingdom)
- Antonio Alessandro Di Cicco, a graphic designer, co-founder of Hund, a graphic and digital design team (Italy)
- Magalí Homs Ros, a designer specialized in ephemeral and audiovisual architecture, the director of Tantagora, a training center and creative space (Spain)
- Yuliia Kozlovets, general coordinator of the International Book Arsenal Festival in Kyiv (Ukraine)
- Alessandra Starace, manager of the historic Libreria delle Ragazze e dei Ragazzi in Milan and Brescia (Italy)
In comics, jurors included:
- Sonia Déchamps, co-artistic director of the International Comics Festival of Angoulême (France)
- Paul Gravett, co-founder of Escape magazine and the Comica Festival, a London-based writer, editor, critic, and lecturer specializing in international comics (UK)
- David Schilter, co-founder of Kuš!, a comic book publisher based in Riga (Latvia)
- Alberto Sebastiani, a researcher, publicist, and lecturer at the University of Bologna and IULM, writer for La Repubblica and Treccani.it on linguistics, literature and comics (Italy)
And in the special 2022 Poetry category, jurors were:
- Chiara Basile, founder of the bookshop Lèggere Leggére and organizer of the Junior Poetry Festival (Italy)
- Denis Beznosov, a poet, literary critic, translator and deputy director of the Russian State Children’s Library (Russia)
- Mateja Bizjak-Petit, a poet, translator and director, since 2011 head of the Centre de Créations pour l’Enfance – House of Poetry (France)
- Caterina Ramonda, an author, translator, and a specialist in paper and digital publishing for children (Italy)
- Morag Styles, a former professor of children’s poetry at Cambridge, and Emeritus Fellow of Homerton College (United Kingdom)
By clicking on each winning book cover, you can see a given category’s special mentions, as well.
In a first, the fair plans to have a “Bookshelf Exhibition” of some 100 finalists in this year’s competition on view at BolognaFiere.
This is Publishing Perspectives’ 36th publishing awards and/or book awards report in the 37 publication days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.
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 and its impact on world publishing is here.