• Friday, April 12, 2024

The International Children's Book Fair in Bologna Brings together Publishers, Authors, and Illustrators from 90 different Nations

Explore diverse children's literature at Bologna Children's Book Fair with international publishers, authors, and illustrators from 90 nations.
on Apr 02, 2024
The International Children's Book Fair in Bologna Brings together Publishers, Authors, and Illustrators from 90 different Nations | Frontlist

According to publisher Dimitar Rikov, a story can be both funny and instructional in an unorthodox way.

"Once upon a time in Bologna, they built an ice cream palace right in the Grand Piazza, and children came from far and wide to have a taste" - these words begin the story "The Palace of Ice Cream" from Gianni Rodari's book "Telephone Tales," one of the most beloved children's writers. 

Today, you may have an ice cream in Bologna's Grand Piazza, but the palace where children's joy and creativity reign is located outside the city. Every year, it hosts the International Children's Book Fair, the world's largest fair for children's books. Its 61st edition begins on April 8 this year and runs until April 11th. Almost 1500 publishers, authors, and artists from over 90 countries will participate. Bulgaria will once again offer its top children's books and authors from the previous year. 

"The Forum in Bologna is extremely large and prestigious," states Venka Ragina, head of the Culture and Literature Association. For the first time, our country will be able to showcase itself with a larger pavilion of 64 square metres and an exhibition named "Joy, Sadness, and Hope." 

"25 Bulgarian Illustrators of Children's Books," one of the most crucial aspects for presenting Bulgarian children's literature in its whole. This is our country's second participation with its own pavilion, therefore Bulgarian children's book publishing will be properly represented."

Bulgarian authors have long been overlooked in Bulgaria, as publisher and translator Manol Peikov revealed to BNR some time ago. Until quite recently, our country had an established aesthetic based on illustrations from Russian folk tales and the somewhat comparable Hollywood 3D illustrations. Another factor that defined the genre was the price - it was assumed that a children's book had to be exceedingly inexpensive. 

"In the last decade, some smaller, enthusiast publishers have begun to emerge and publish at the higher end of the children's book market," Peikov explains. 

"The children's book is a special kind of beast," argues publisher Dimitar Rikov, citing singer Bruce Dickinson's autobiography. 

"Everything relies on the approach. If you ask former socialist nations, children's books should look one way, our Western colleagues will have a different perspective, and the standards in the United States are even different, not to mention the Far East. 

That's what makes Bologna so special: it brings together all of the different illustration styles, and there's no doubt that illustrations are the most significant thing in children's books. Artists all across the world have their own points of view, which occasionally collide and sometimes dialogue. 

We Bulgarians are interested in a more traditional, Slavic style of sketching, similar to the aesthetics of Poland, Lithuania, Slovenia, Ukraine, and other nations in the region. These drawings are more understandable, and they speak to the hearts of parents. Many of our Bulgarian artists work for foreign publications."

"What should be the focus of children's book texts in the age of artificial intelligence? This is a topic that participants at this year's fair in Italy will explore. Children today are unlike us at their age, and they appear to enjoy more and more new and creative stories about the world and everything in it. 

The market expects new interactions with new characters because youngsters are weary of the same old stories in which the bad character eats the mischievous one and is saved by the good character. A fairy tale can be both enjoyable and educational in a very unusual way. Children are searching for such books.

The most powerful aspect of a children's book is its ability to bring youngsters and parents together. 

Children will interpret the moral in one way, while adults will interpret it in another, but the narrative will ultimately bring a smile to the cheeks of both young and old," says Dimitar Rykov. 

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