Bologna Is Back: Brisk Programming, Meetings, Awards

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The third day of its 2022 run saw Bologna Children’s Book Fair catch its in-person stride with wall-to-wall activity.

A packed Illustrators’ Café audience on Day 3 of Bologna Children’s Book Fair, standing room only for ‘The Reason Behind a Choice: Meeting with the Illustrators Exhibition Jury 2022.’ Speakers: Barroux, a French illustrator; Nana Furiya, an illustrator from Japan; Agata Loth-Ignaciuk of Wydawnictwo Druganoga; Ekare’s Irene Savino; and Italian illustrator Valerio Vidali. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

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

Big at Bologna Today
At midday today (March 23), Bologna Children’s Book Fair finally was well and truly “back,” in terms of having regained its physical presentation character.

While the halls were filled with the sounds of energetic presentations, thoughtful staged panel discussions, one-on-one business conversations—and booming performances by Guest of Honor Sharjah’s iconic stick dancers and drummers from the United Arab Emirates—there were so many events on so many stages that much of the sprawling show became a colorfully illustrated blur.

One of the things that organizers are noting this year is that some stages are designed in such a way that once book illustrations or other luminous artwork goes up onto their big screens, the names of those events disappear. This will be fixed next year, they promise.

That was the case, for example, during a core-mission program called “The Reason Behind a Choice: Meeting with the Illustrators Exhibition Jury 2022.”

This is a fine event: a real-time jury rationale session—the kind of thing that many of us who seem to live in the Land of Book and Publishing Awards would love to hear more frequently, especially when everyone seems confounded about the choices made by intelligent and experienced jurors. But once the jurors were speaking about various selections being projected in radiant colors onto the screen, it was almost impossible to know exactly what event was on that stage.

The still-growing exhibition at Bologna Children’s Book Fair of Ukrainian books, volumes brought to the show by traveling publishers. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

Oddly, in the 112-page programming booklet (yes, 112 pages, that’s not a typo), this uber-stage does not have its own listing on the Page 3 “Highlights” index alongside Comics Corner, Bologna Book Plus, Spotlight on Africa, Translators Café, The Illustrators Survival Corner, World Lounge, and so on.

Have you ever had the nightmare that so many of us regular travelers have?—you’re in an airport, dashing from gate to gate and concourse to concourse, and you can’t remember where you’re going, on which airline, or at what time, and not one gate area sign is lit up to tell you a departing plane’s destination.

That’s what Bologna was today. And it’s okay. We’re smiling.

Remember, as we’ve written earlier this week, Elena Pasoli and her determined staff got the green light to go forward with this show only on January 15. It was in many ways remarkable today to see this noontime collision of so much programing in so many places, even if you didn’t know where you were, who you were listening to, or about exactly what topic the speakers were carrying on.

Here’s a video of the session in English and Italian, with the jurors in the huge Illustrators Exhibition that surrounds the stage and seating area.

Mexico’s Andrés López Wins the 2022 Fundación SM International Award

Mexico’s Andrés López has been named today the winner of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair/Fundación SM International Award for Illustration, which was created in 2009 to surface the work of “new talents in illustration” who are younger than 35 and selected for that big Illustrators Exhibition mentioned for its jury programming above.

This honor carries a €15,000 purse meant to help a young illustrator cope with bills and focus better on her or his art.

The Madrid-based Spanish publisher SM will publish López’s illustrated book project in a year, and you can expect to see a solo exhibition of the work that goes into the new book at next year’s 60th Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

Here’s one image from López’s work:

Image: Andres López, Bologna Children’s Book Fair

In writing about their selection of López, jurors Gusti Rosemffet (illustrator, Argentina); Alessandro Sanna (illustrator, Italy); and Pablo Núñez (Corporate Art Manager at SM, Spain); said they were conferring the award on López, “For the quality of the composition, the evocative representation of nature with a strong pictorial storyline, a traditional style with a meticulous approach to detail and a capacity to create a world that is precise, credible and engaging that ensures the reader imagines this world beyond the illustrations and wants to enter into it.”

France’s Alice Ourghalian Wins the 2022 Ars in Fabula Grant Award

Ars in Fabula, an illustration school set in central Italy’s Macerata, assigns another illustrator—younger than 30 in this case—a teacher from the school’s “Masters in Illustration” program.

Work of the Paris-based illustrator Alice Ourghalian, who has won the Ars in Fabula grant award for masters study at the 2022 Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Image: BCBF

France’s Alice Ourghalian, this winner of the Ars in Fabula honor, was also featured in the Illustrators Exhibition, and studies in Paris at the École Estienne.

And Yuval Noah Harari

On hand to talk about a new project for middle-grade readers, the bestselling historian Yuval Noah Harari was at Bologna today, too.

Called Unstoppable Us: How Humans Took Over the World This Fall, the work is coming from Penguin Random House/Bright Matter Books Harari’s new release will be the first in a projected four-volume series, with a simultaneous laydown on October 18 in the United States (Bright Matter); Puffin Canada; and Puffin Books in Australia.

Two days later, on October 20, the book is to release in the United Kingdom from Puffin Books from Penguin Random House Children’s Books UK.

Yuval Noah Harari talks about his forthcoming middle-grade book, 'Unstoppable Us,' coming in October from Penguin Random House. Image: BCBF

Yuval Noah Harari talks about his forthcoming middle-grade book, ‘Unstoppable Us,’ coming in October from Penguin Random House. Image: BCBF

Barbara Marcus, president and publisher of Random House Children’s Books, has been quoted on the coming release, saying, “It’s truly a privilege to bring Yuval’s insights to the page for today’s young readers, and offer an opportunity for families, educators, and children to learn together from one of the greatest intellectual leaders of our day.”

And talking about the book, Harari said, “Unstoppable Us is the book I wanted to read as a kid.

“It tells the history of humans since the time we were just apes living in the savanna, until the time we almost became god-like by flying in airplanes and spaceships.

“It’s a fun book—I hope young readers won’t want to put it down—and it’s also dead serious, aiming to preoccupy you with the questions it raises. Every question from why we have nightmares and why we like sugar to why people believe in gods and why there are so many wars.

Unstoppable Us has one key message for kids: The world in which we live didn’t have to be the way it is. People made it what it is. And people can change it.”

This is Publishing Perspectives’ 59th awards report published in the 58 days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.


More from us on publishing and book awards in the international industry is here. More on Bologna Children’s Book Fair is here, more on children’s books is here, and more on world publishing’s trade shows and book fairs is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he 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.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (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.