Last year as I began planning my spring term sabbatical I realized that I would be free to check-out the legendary Bologna Children’s Book Fair. And so I convinced Susannah Richards to join me and on Friday, March 31, off we went for a week at the fair.
While I had heard a lot about the fair from others, got plenty of advice, I still went with few expectations other than that it seemed to be more for buying foreign rights and not so much for the likes of me. I quickly discovered that while it was indeed mostly for rights, it also was rich in learning opportunities of all kinds. I wandered the halls in awe of the range of publishing from throughout the world, sat in with editor friends while they met with foreign publishers, went to some wonderful panels, saw amazing art and books, and met old and new friends from all over. Add in the marvelous city of Bologna and it was all in all a fantastic experience.
We arrived on Saturday, giving us the weekend to sightsee before the start of the fair on Monday. Wandering the streets of Bologna, stopping into bookstores, libraries, and more was wonderful. Everything I ‘d heard about this city was correct. Then we spent the bulk of Monday-Wednesday at the fair itself. It was incredible wandering the halls, setting in on panels, seeing art, meeting people, and more. A truly wonderful experience; I’m so glad I went. I realize now I didn’t take very many photos at the fair itself — probably feeling it would be too intrusive — but there are plenty elsewhere, say from at the fair’s site, PW (I was quoted in this article of theirs), and here. Here are a few I did take as I wandered the city and the fair.
The warm colors of Bologna are marvelous.
Bologna is known for its food. Here is a storefront featuring its famous tortellini (which deserves the accolades).
On Sunday there was a huge architectural annual competition on the piazza. This year the challenge was to create a thirteenth gateway to add to the twelve already around Bologna.
There were exhibits all over the city featuring children’s books. The fair’s guest of honor for the year included Catalan children’s book creators and there was a delightful exhibit of their work at the gorgeous Biblioteca Archiginnasio.
New York Times children’s book editor Maria Russo moderated a terrific panel featuring books on artists.
Looked for African publishers and found Golden Baobab. Representation was sparse for the continent and so I hope there will be more as years go on.
Aspiring illustrators were everywhere.
We visited the remarkable public library, Biblioteca Salaborsa. There was a delightful exhibit, Rules of the Game, that cleverly allowed for interacting with books. Saw the Horn Book Magazine among their periodicals and was mighty impressed with their range of book offerings in so many languages.
It was a wonderful and most worthwhile experience, one I’m still processing.