Italy: Bologna Names Its 2024 Ragazzi Award Winners

In News by Porter Anderson

Among this year’s Ragazzi Award winners at Bologna, work from Spain, Latvia, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Italy, France, and Brazil.

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

This Year’s Special Category: ‘The Sea’
Our readers are very familiar with the Bologna Children’s Book Fair‘s (April 8 to 11) Illustrators Exhibition major competition, the Bologna Ragazzi Award program—now in its 57th edition.

As you know, Bologna is now three things: (a) the main children’s book fair led by Elena Pasoli; (b) a generalist (non-children’s) conference program called Bologna Book Plus led by Jacks Thomas; and (c) the Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Kids.

In a sense, some of the long-running illustration award programs and their exhibitions are beginning to take on a new function, serving as anchors in this now multi-part international trade show. The Bologna Ragazzi Awards are a perfect example of this, arriving this year in their 61st iteration with perhaps the best-recognized name in a host of contests that ring the BolognaFiere each year with vast exhibitions of children’s book illustration.

Illustrators whose work carries a notice of a Ragazzi Award speak of greater sales and notoriety for their work, which becomes known through the exhibition elements of this sprawling show’s layout.

There are five main categories used in the Ragazzi Awards:

  • Fiction
  • Nonfiction
  • Opera Prima (debut works)
  • Comics (with sub-categories of Early Reader and Middle Grade)
  • Toddler (appropriately for its name, this is the newest, the youngest of the permanent categories)

Cover art for ‘Kintsugi’ from Libros del Zorro Rojo

Each year, a special sixth category is added and this year that’s “The Sea”—Il Mare. This special thematic prompt was chosen in part because Bologna Children’s Book Fair is a partner in the preparations for the 39th International IBBY Congress, which is to be held in the eye-popping northeastern Italian seaport Trieste, the capital of the Fruili-Venezia Guilian autonomous region flanked by Slovenia on one side and Croatia on the other.

Additionally, if jurors feel that they’ve spotted particularly innovative work, they’re allowed to call in a “New Horizons” category in addition to the core five groupings.

As organizers of the fair and the Ragazzi Awards note, young readers find in the sea themes not only of nature and conservation but of travel, escape, vast distances, and playful surf. And, as you can see in the book-cover art here, the first category’s winner—Kintsugi from the publisher Libros del Zorro Rojo in Spain, with text and those illustrations of such elegant squids and jellyfish by Issa Watanabe, wastes no time whatever in diving right into the oceanic prompt of “The Sea.”

Bologna Ragazzi Award 2024 Winners

If you’ll click on any given winning title, the link will take you to the Bologna site’s page for that category, so you can also see the runners-up selected by the 2024 jury.

Category Title Author Illustrator(s) Publisher Market
Fiction Kintsugi (Literally ‘Golden Joinery,’ and metaphorically the concept of taking pride in the fragile imperfections of life) Issa Watanabe Issa Watanabe Libros del Zorro Rojo Spain
Nonfiction Myko Jiří Dvořák Daniela Olejníková Baobab Czech Republic
Opera Prima (debut) Ko darīt, ja esi kails pilsētā (What to Do If You Are Naked in a City?) Aleksandra Runde Aleksandra Runde Janis Roze Publishers Latvia
New Horizons 回憶見 (See You in Memories)  Pen So Pen So Pen So Artlab Hong Kong
Comics: Early Reader Comment naissent les arbres (How Trees Are Born) Charles Berbérian Charles Berbérian La Martinière Jeunesse France
Comics: Middle Grade Les Pissenlits (Dandelions)   Nina Six Nina Six Éditions Sarbacane France
Comics: YA

Il racconto della roccia (The Rock’s Tale)

BeneDì (Benedetta D’Incau) BeneDì (Benedetta D’Incau) Coconino Press Italy
Toddler (new permanent category) Dia de Lua (Moon Day)     Renato Moriconi Renato Moriconi Jujuba Editora Brazil
The Sea (the 2024 special category) Giù nel blu – Dalla superficie agli abissi: viaggio sottomarino sfogliabile (Down in the Blue – From the Surface to the Abyss: a Browsable Underwater Journey) Gianumberto Accinelli Giulia Zaffaroni Nomos Edizioni Italy
Extraordinary Award  Bambini nascosti (Hidden Children) Franco Matticchio Franco Matticchio Vànvere edizioni Italy
Jurors for the 2024 Ragazzi Awards

Main Jury

  • Tina Bilban
  • Claudette S. McLinn
  • Alice Nussbaum
  • Beatriz Sanjuán

Comics Jury

  • Mohammad Yousuf AlShaibani
  • Enrico Fornaroli
  • Joonas Sildre

‘The Sea’ and Nonfiction

  • Giorgia Grilli
  • Alessio Scaboro
  • Henning Wiesner

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

More of our coverage relative to the 2024 Bologna Children’s Book Fair

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.