【IT】58th BOLOGNA CHILDREN’S BOOK FAIR: THE SYMBIOTIC NETWORK OF CHILDREN’S CONTENT

 

 

Fluo, the human body in all shapes and sizes, thinking and acting green in our everyday lives, and a return to cataloguing the natural world: these are trends emerging from the 1,577 books submitted by 41 countries

 

A key theme this year was our human body – all shapes and sizes, ages and gender. Far from

any intention to classify bodies according to a narrow standard of ‘conformity’, the cataloguing

in these children’s books is rather a means of acquiring knowledge about the world, its plants,

animals, and objects. In other words, the world around us can be investigated in terms of

similarities and differences. And on the subject of plants, environmental sustainability

continues to feature widely in children’s books, no longer, however, as a warning or plea to

heed ecological issues but as an environment-friendly way of everyday living. Scientific

explanations of the state of the planet have given way to stories that weave environmental

awareness and action in new poetic ways. But it is not just the “outside world” that needs our

attention. We must also look after our own wellbeing, starting with where we live. Homes and

cities are now full of plants and flowers, small details and unexpected views, all of which

enhance our daily lives and homes. Going beyond the subjects dealt with, another new

characteristic of this year’s books was the widespread use of fluo colours, which even became

structural elements of the book and an integral part of new experimental narratives. Fluo was

even used as a means of creating “augmented” reading experiences, changing children’s visual

perception, for example, inviting the child to use a torch to explore nuances of colour outside

our visual spectrum: a hands-on way of giving the young reader an active role in getting to know

the object that is a book. Prompting the young reader’s awe and amazement was also a new

challenge for publishers themselves since it required a “look back at the past” and a return to

more traditional handcrafted production methods.

 

These were the main trends emerging from Bologna Children’s Book Fair’s 2021

BolognaRagazzi Award – BRAW, which for over 50 years has acknowledged the best books

published around the world in terms of their graphic-editorial excellence, innovative character,

overall balance and ability to dialogue with young readers. Thanks to its prestige acquired

down the years, the BRAW not only confers the hallmark of publishing excellence, it is also a

great business opportunity in terms of international copyright possibilities thanks to the

international attention the titles of both winners and special mentions receive.

 

1,577 titles were submitted this year from 41 countries for the 2021 edition of the award,

whose traditional categories were: Fiction, Non Fiction, Opera Prima (for a debut work),

Comics (for comics and graphic novels), and New Horizons, a special prize awarded by the jury for particularly innovative works. To these permanent categories were added the special

Poetry category, judged by an independent international jury

 

Sent in by publishers from all over the world, the books were leafed through, poured over and

discussed by a Jury made up, as always, of international experts in the field, who met for a two

day full-immersion session. This year’s jurors were: Chiara Basile, founder of the bookshop

Lèggere Leggére and organiser of the Junior Poetry Festival (Italy); Ana Garallon, literary

critic, researcher, guest professor at various Master’s in Children’s Literature (Spain); Izabella

Kaluta, author, publisher and cultural manager (Poland); Yasmine Motawy, scholar, critic,

translator, editor, consultant and children’s literature writing tutor (Egypt); and Caterina

Ramonda, author, translator, expert in paper and digital children’s publishing (Italy). For the

selection of the Comics award, they were joined by comics experts: David B., author, one of the

founders of L’Association, a cult publishing house on the new French comics scene (France);

Matteo Stefanelli, scholar, journalist and cultural organiser working at the intersection of

comics and the media industry (Italy); and Virginia Tonfoni, author and independent comic

book researcher (Italy).

 

 

 

 

 

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