Bologna Book Fair: 2023 Ragazzi Awards

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The 2023 Bologna Ragazzi Awards attracted 2,349 titles entered by 644 publishers in 59 international book publishing markets.

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

Photography Is the 2023 Special Category
Following up on our coverage earlier this month of the 60th-anniversary Bologna Children’s Book Fair‘s (March 6 to 9)  Illustrators Exhibition competition, we have today (January 30) results of another of this trade show’s major competitions, the Bologna Ragazzi Award program—now in its 56th edition.

This year, the award has had 2,349 titles entered by 644 publishers in 59 countries and territories, with its emphasis not just on illustration but also on graphic-editorial design, innovation, and balance, “along with an ability to create a dialogue with young readers.” This, in other words, instead of an illustration award per se, is something closer to a whole-of-book prize that considers the complex relationship of a successful books many elements.

The trade show, which this year expands its rights-trading floor to include adult literature, is taking care to point out that the Ragazzis can be understood as cues to where newly emerging themes and trends will be found during the 2023 cycle of this industry-facing fair.

There are four repeating top categories to this award-program’s structure, plus one annually changing category:

  • Fiction
  • Nonfiction
  • Opera Prima (for debut authors)
  • New Horizons as a category in which jurors believe they see a publishing product with unusual innovation
  • Comics (subcategorized to early reader, middle grade, young adult)
  • Photography as the 2023 special category

Thematically, the fair’s administration reports that night and nighttime have been recognized this year as topical leads, both in terms of dream-like “unconscious fun and possibilities” and the more predictable concepts of “darker and more painful emotions” from loneliness to shattered friendships, which the fair says “have become a subject for literary exploration.

Seemingly less remarkable than the trend toward the nocturnal, the entries also seem to point to use of the word as a device, as in alphabet books and efforts described as “a need to rename the world,” which sounds ambitious, to say the least.

Something the administration is calling “body truth” seems to have to do with non-traditional expressions of bodily description and conceptualization, with a return of nonfiction for children this season, and discussions around environmentalism beyond educational approaches—a “cosmic belonging” for childhood that’s linked to worldly surroundings.

Bologna Ragazzi Award 2023 Winners
Category Title Author Illustrator(s) Publisher Market
Fiction Todo lo que pasó antes de que llegaras (Everything That Happened Before You Arrived) Yael Frankel Yael Frankel Limonero (2022) Argentina
Nonfiction Art of Protest De Nichols Diana Dagadita, saddo, Olivia Twist, Molly Mendoza, Diego Becas Bonnier UK/Big Picture Press (2021) United Kingdom
Opera Prima (debut) Mariedl. Une histoire gigangescue (Mariedl. A Gigantic Story) Laura Simonati Laura Simonati Versant Sud (2022) Belgium
New Horizons El bolso (The Purse) María José Ferrada Ana Palmero Cáceres Alboroto Ediciones (2021) Mexico
Comics: Early Reader Whose Sock? Sun Jun Sun Jun Hsin Yi Publications (2020) China
Comics: Middle Grade Un matin (One Morning) Jérôme Dubois Laurie Agusti La Partie (2022) France
Comics: YA 坂月さかな作品集 プラネタリウム・ゴースト・トラベル (Planetarium Ghost Travel: The Art of Sakatsuki Sakana) Sakana Sakatsuki Sakana Sakatsuki PIE International (2021) Japan
Photography Seen and Unseen: What Dorothea Lange, Toyo Miyatake, and Ansel Adams’s Photographs Reveal about the Japanese American Incarceration  Elizabeth Partridge Lauren Tamaki Chronicle Books (2022) United States
Jurors for the 2023 Ragazzi Awards

Main Jury

  • Doris Breitmoser
  • Riccardo Falcinelli
  • Orna Granot
  • Dee Lalljee

Comics Jury

  • Roel Daenen
  • Igort (Igor Tuveri)
  • Bill Kartalopoulos

Photography Jury

  • Walter Guadagnani
  • Laurence Le Guen
  • Junko Yokota

More about all of this year’s awards, including special mentions, can be found here.

More from Publishing Perspectives 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, more on the Italian market is here, and more on world publishing’s trade shows and book fairs 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 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 International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, 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.