1964-2023: the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF) celebrates sixty years of scouting, research and continuous growth that have seen the creation of projects abroad, the launch of innovative initiatives and fruitful partnerships. Even in the face of significant recent and current challenges, the world’s most important event dedicated to the trade in publishing rights for content for children and young people has proved its huge capacity for resilience and inventiveness. The Fair, in fact, is a place where ideas from all over the world meet, giving life to new and unexpected creative production. This success is thanks to the permanent dialogue and collaborative relationship that BCBF has established and nurtured over decades, since its initial foundation, with publishers and the entire international children’s book community.
This important milestone now offers an opportunity to reflect on its achievements and, at the same time, look to the future with new ideas, energy and projects. Together with the Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Kids (BLTF/K) and BolognaBookPlus (BBPlus), the event is scheduled to take place in the halls of Bologna Exhibition Centre from 6 to 9 March 2023: Still rocking at 60!
For a birthday truly worth celebrating, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair has brought together, from all over the world, the greatest names in illustration, publishing and critics for children and young people, whose work, participation and contributions have marked these first sixty years of BCBF. Among those expected at the Fair are: Albertine Zullo, Beatrice Alemagna, Rotraut Susanne Berner, Marc Boutavant, Rebecca Dautremer, Laura Carlin, Suzy Lee, Nicholas Jubber, Katsumi Komagata, David Levithan, Leonard Marcus, Manuel Marsol, Sarah Mazzetti, Hasan Mousavi, Fabian Negrin, Roger Mello, Elena Odriozola, Martin Salisbury, Alessandro Sanna, Axel Scheffler, Susanna Tamaro, Klaas Verplancke.
“Turning 60 and still feeling so good is great; turning 60 and knowing the close relationship we have with the international book community is a joy. It is, however, also a responsibility and an incentive always to do more. Looking at the path we’ve navigated since BCBF’s 50th birthday, ten years ago, we can see a huge increase in our scope and our presence abroad: Bologna Children’s Book Fair today is a system of fairs that ranges from children’s publishing to licensing to general publishing, with a reach as far as Shanghai - at the other side of the world - and a non-stop programme of collaborations and in-person events in many different countries. Looking to the future… BCBF doesn't lack new projects, and we are ready to roll up our sleeves over the next ten years and building on our signature energy and creativity: “still rocking!”, as our 2023 motto claims” comments Elena Pasoli, Director of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.
Building on the success of its first in-person edition in 2022, BBPlus returns for a third consecutive year with a programme of training courses, conferences, seminars and new international projects. A BCBF brand extension born from the collaboration between BolognaFiere and the Italian Publishers’ Association (AIE), BBPlus aims to expand BCBF’s scope to include generalist publishing. The first edition of the Market of Honour, Greece, as well as the inauguration of the new Italian Publishers’ Pavilion, provide space specifically for Italian publishing and have been organised and developed in collaboration with the Italian Publishers’ Association (AIE). Another crucial feature to support publishers from all over the world is the BCBF Rights Centre that will open its doors for the first time to agents from the publishing sector for adults, involving rights professionals from all the publishers exhibiting at the fair.
Among the eagerly awaited celebrations planned for this 60th anniversary is the exhibition Landscapes and portraits of BCBF, a celebratory tribute to the aesthetics of the fair including the illustrations that make up the 2023 visual identity, inspired by the colours of the logo and chosen from the work of entries in a contest open to the winners of the past ten editions of the Illustrators Exhibition. The Fair will also host a live painting project, extending an invitation to all the visiting illustrators to have fun making art in the colours of the BCBF logo, leaving a memory of BCBF.
There will also be an anniversary within the anniversary, with a meaningful tribute to one of the absolute protagonists of 20th century Italian literature: in the centenary year of his birth, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair is paying homage to Italo Calvino with Italian Excellence. Illustrations for Italo Calvino. The exhibition will exhibit 120 illustrations inspired by the great author’s literary production, including works by important artists that have already been published as well as unpublished illustrators that have won an international competition organized by the Fair.
Furthermore, the four-year European project investigating the relationship between early childhood and the performing arts will conclude with the large final exhibition of the contest The Children Spectators: the winning illustrations of the four previous editions of the contest will be the framework for the unpublished works by the great godfathers of the initiative: Fabian Negrin, Manuel Marsol, Katsumi Komagata and Klaas Verplancke. There will also be an exhibition celebrating the first 10 years of the ARS IN FABULA - Grant Award; the exhibition of the most beautiful books to have won the BolognaRagazzi Award The BRAW Amazing Bookshelf, with a focus on the Opera Prima category, now in its 15th edition, and the event eagerly awaited every year, the Illustrators Exhibition with its related initiatives. There will be personal exhibitions for Suzy Lee, winner of the 2022 edition of the H. C. Andersen Award and illustrator of the cover of the Illustrators Annual, and Andrés López, 2022 winner of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair - Fundación SM International Illustration Award. The exhibition programme includes a deserved tribute to women – on the occasion of 8 March (International Women’s Day) – with Women donne femmes frauen 女性 mujeres wanawake نساء …, an exhibition of the best titles devoted to women to have been published in recent years all around the world; A Dive Into The Sea Of New Italian Comics, 2019-22 is dedicated to the best of Italian comic production; Ukraine illustrated, organised by the International Book Arsenal Festival and the Pictoric Illustrators Club, is dedicated to illustrations by Ukrainian artists and will offer different representations of the experience of war.
THE MAJOR INTERNATIONAL PRIZES
The major international prizes dedicated to publishing for children and young people will be taking place once again, bolstered by a constant dialogue with the exhibitions and the artists. The BolognaRagazzi Award acknowledging the best illustrated books published recently at international level this year will include Photography as a special category. The BolognaRagazzi CrossMedia Award will select the best publishing projects that have expanded their narrative universe to include other media or, on the contrary, narratives created elsewhere that end up on paper: the 2023 winners are due to be announced today. The BOP - Bologna Prize for the Best Children’s Publishers of the Year will be awarded to the best publisher chosen for each of the six areas of the world. The Strega Prize Ragazze e Ragazzi, which is now in its eighth edition, will also select a winner for the second edition of the “Narration for Images” competition category. Younger illustrators will take centre stage in the now well-established Bologna Children’s Book Fair - Fundación SM International Illustration Award reserved for Under 35s at the Illustrators Exhibition and the ARS IN FABULA - Grant Award for Under30s. Winners will also be announced for the translation competition In Altre Parole (In Other Words) and the Poesio Award dedicated to the most original Italian degree thesis on Children’s Literature. BCBF is also the stage for the most important international awards: the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award winners will be announced live from the 2023 Children’s Book Fair, while Ibby will present the shortlist at the biennial Hans Christian Andersen Award, which will be given in 2024.
FOCUSES AND MAJOR THEMES
The Bologna Children’s Book Fair has always been a space for dialogue, debate, exchanging ideas and professional development. This year’s edition will host meetings on some of the most topical issues concerning the future and the present of global publishing: from censorship in children’s books (with guests including US author David Levithan), to the new role of artificial intelligence, the promotion of reading in disadvantaged areas of the world (with Bel Santos Mayer, reading promoter, Biblioteca Caminhos da Leitura, Brazil), opportunities and challenges in African publishing (guests will include Julia Norrish of the South African Book Dash project), the new face of Ukrainian illustration, a tool for both communication and resistance (at the fair will be Oleg Gryshchenko and Anna Sarvira, artists and co-founders of the Pictoric illustrators club and Yuliia Kozlovets, International Book Arsenal Festival) and, for the first time at BCBF, a big area dedicated to PublisHer, the movement founded by publisher Bodour Al Quasimi to spread gender equality in the publishing world, which will present a seminar programme dedicated to women’s role among the international publishing sector. Space will also be given to the growing success of the comics sector and, finally, in the year of such an important milestone, we take a look back at the history of children’s publishing through many of its most outstanding talents. Starting with one of the great protagonists of this edition, Italo Calvino (the panel includes illustrators Alessandro Sanna, Italy, Rotraut Susanne Berner, Germany, and Vera Gereke, Germany).
INTERNATIONALIZATION AND SCOUTING
The BCBF continues its journey of internationalization that has always been its soul and true mission, developing and progressing over the years. The opening and exploration of emerging markets, rich in new visions and energies, is at the heart of the two projects developed thanks to the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation - MAECI and ITA - the Italian Trade Agency: the second edition of Spotlight on Africa, the exhibition area reserved for African publishing, and the World Lounge, open to the participation of publishers from all over the world, to encourage the development of interactions and business relationships with Italian partners and counterparts. Also making a welcome return is the Comics Corner, enlivened by discussion panels that will foster debate on the present and the future of comics with publishers from all over the world. This initiative consolidates the Fair’s research work to give space for expression and the development of the latest trends in publishing for children.
THE ILLUSTRATORS SURVIVAL CORNER
With about 150 appointments including masterclasses, workshops and portfolio reviews with editors, art directors, illustrators and professionals from the sector, this year too sees the return of an event at the Fair most eagerly awaited by illustrators – The Illustrators Survival Corner.
BOOK LOVERS’ BISTROT
This year the Fair hosts a new space, alongside the International Bookshop, for the first time, will be the Book Lovers’ Bistrot, an area dedicated to presentations, conferences and discussion panels both Italian and international.
BOLOGNA LICENSING TRADE FAIR/KIDS
The Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Kids (BLTF/Kids), Europe’s leading licensing event dedicated to brands for children, youth and young adults, returns to the Bologna Exhibition Centre for its 16th edition. The BLTF/Kids also features the 3rd edition of the International Kids Licensing Days, days of in-depth discussions involving key international players in the sector and focusing on the most important and topical issues related to content for children and young adults, plus the announcement of the winners of the 6th edition of the Bologna Licensing Award.
BCBF IN THE CITY
As is the case every year, and even more so in this anniversary year, the creativity at Bologna Children’s Book Fair will reach out from the exhibition halls to embrace Bologna’s places of culture, libraries, schools and palazzos with events aimed at a wider public: the sixtieth edition of the Fair promises to bring the party all over the city.
Among the main events featured by BOOM!, the programme of events that take place in the city organised by the Municipality of Bologna with the support of BCBF, will be the large exhibition BEAUTY and the WORLD - The New Non-Fiction Picture book hosted at the Salaborsa Library, with a selection of more than 600 of the most interesting non-fiction picture books from all over the world. The premises of the Fondazione del Monte will host the important solo show dedicated to the illustrator Beatrice Alemagna, who in 2022 was presented The extraordinary award for an extraordinary artist.