Bologna Book Fair Names Cross Media Award Winners

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

A Hungarian book-to-animated-film project and a Canadian online platform for kids take Bologna’s top Cross Media Award honors.

Graphics from one of the two winners of Bologna’s 2023 Cross Media Award, ‘Otthon’ (‘Home’) in an animated short film from the ‘wordless book’ by Hungary’s Rofusz Kinga. Images: BCBF

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

An Award in Content Development
While some industry players wonder annually if it makes sense for the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (March 6 to 9) to announce its many award winners before the book fair happens—leaving the ceremonies without suspense or surprise—that is the routine at this trade show.

So it is that today (February 16), we have yet another announcement of award winners on the road to Bologna.

The Bologna Ragazzi Cross Media Award is the youngest of the prizes hosted annually by the venerable 60-year-old Bologna program. This contest was created in 2020, redirecting the former “Digital Award” to something that would honor “the best editorial projects that expand their narrative universe toward other media and, vice-versa, the narratives born elsewhere that land on paper.”

In short, this is words-to-screen, book-to-film, and all the surrounding game-video-music potentials in content development.

Cross media is a fairly old term, but the importance of understanding the force of the various electronic media—which compete with reading—still is a new topic for many professionals who dwell the bookish world and sometimes think that everyone else does, too. The competition lies today in the attention economy. For Bologna, that means children are watching television, film, and a lot of other things on smartphones and other devices, all eating up the time that in the past those kids were likelier to have spent reading.

Trying to get and hold readers’ attention—at any age, not just in their youth—has become, whether all book-business folks know it yet or not, the biggest battle of all. How many times have you, your friends, and/or your colleagues commented on how short our attention spans seem to be now and how hard that can make immersive reading?

If the Cross Media Award can help awaken some reading purists to this reality, then it’s well worth everyone’s focus.

The award is organized by Bologna in association with Aldus Up and in cooperation with the Mamamò association. For the 2023 iteration of this program, 90 entries from 30 nations were presented to the jurors. A shortlist of 10 items then gave way to two winners and three special mentions.

The Two Winners of the Bologna Cross Media Award 2023

Otthon, book to film

  • Category: Winner in ‘Cross Media Projects’
  • Publisher: Vivandra Books
  • Market: Hungary
  • Book Title: Otthon (Home)
  • Author: Rofusz Kinja
  • Development: book to animated short film
  • Producer: Béla Klingl (K.G.B. Studio)
  • Description: An animated short film inspired by a “silent” (wordless) book that stresses home as both a place in which to live and a feeling of trust, with generation-gap-bridging connections

From the jury’s rationale: “A wonderful evocation of moving home, rendered beautifully and with great sensitivity in both print and animation. Sometimes we cannot put words on big events in our lives until long after. And so it seems fitting that Otthon (Home) is a wordless portrayal both in book and movie forms of a child’s reaction to something so life-changing as moving home. The author tells us a universal story of the nature of connections, with effortless storytelling and a fluid and poetic imagery that almost floats with the family and their many different feelings about home.”


Atelier de création Fonfon, online platform

Graphics from one of the two winners of Bologna’s 2023 Cross Media Award, the ‘Atelier de création Fonfon’ online platform from the Canadian publisher Fonfon, which allows children to generate their own stories. Images: BCBF

  • Category: Winner in ‘Digital Libraries’
  • Publisher: Fonfon
  • Market: Canada
  • Development: Online creative platform
  • Description: An online platform on which children create stories using visual elements including characters, sets, and accessories, these elements being taken from several albums published by Fonfon.

From the jury’s rationale: “An online interactive platform for ages 4 to 12 … The jury has appreciated the fun, creative, and rewarding story-making experience: the different features available to users, such as writing text, selecting scenery and images, recording of one’s voice, publishing, and sharing the story with friends and family, as well as activities suggested to teachers with reading and writing workshops.”


Special Mentions from the States, Australia, and France

There are three special mentions in the 2023 Bologna Cross Media Awards, and we’ll list them briefly here for you, directing you to this page at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair site, in case you’d like to learn more.

El Deafo, book to animated series

Graphics from ‘El Deafo.’ Images: BCBF

  • Publisher: Abrams Books
  • Market: United States
  • Title:  El Deafo
  • Author: Cece Bell
  • Development: book to animated series
  • Producers: Will McRobb, CeCe Bell, Clint Eland, Claire Finn, Sara Bottfeld

The Tree of Ecstasy and Unbearable Sadness, book to music, audiobook, short film

Graphics from ‘The Tree of Ecstasy and Unbearable Sadness.’ Images: BCBF

Publisher: Dirt Lane Press
Market: Australia
Title: The Tree of Ecstasy and Unbearable Sadness
Author: Matt Ottley
Development: Book to music, audiobook and short film
Producer: Tina Wilson

Culottées, book to animated television series, live events, exhibition, merchandise

Graphics from ‘Culottées.’ Images: BCBF

Publisher: Gallimard Jeunesse
Market: France
Title: Culottées
Author: Pénélope Bagieu
Development: From book to animated TV series, live events, exhibition, merchandising
Producer: Silex films

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.