Gayle Brown

The Bologna Children’s Book Fair, which opens today and runs through Thursday, is the most important international event in the children’s book publishing industry. In Bologna authors, illustrators, agents, librarians, and publishers — including, of course, a contingent of Eerdfolk — meet to sell and buy the very best of children’s books from around the world.

EBYR associate publisher and art director Gayle Brown, a Bologna veteran, sent us this dispatch from Italy about the fair and all the great books that we’ve found there in years past.

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Here we are once again — joining the hundreds of other children’s book publishers at this international festival celebrating the creation of books for children and the inventive art that makes them transcend and sparkle.

Eerdmans travels to Bologna each year to look for the best in children’s books published in other languages by companies from around the world. One of our publishing missions is to bring books from other countries into our community of English-speaking young readers that will broaden the scope of a child’s understanding of other cultures.

A few novels we have found in the past go a long way toward helping a child imagine how life might be for other children in various parts of the world. Mikis and the Donkey, winner of the 2015 Batchelder Award, gives readers an understanding of what life in a small village on the Greek island of Corfu might be like. And Son of a Gun, winner of a Batchelder Honor Award, tells of the astonishing journey of a brother and sister who are kidnapped from school and forced to become child soldiers in Liberia’s civil war.

from Mikis de ezeljongen (Mikis and the Donkey)

We also look for books that help our readers recognize the many points at which we have more in common with others from around the world than we might have expected. Garmann’s Summer, originally published in Norway, is a good example of that shared experience. Garmann is nervous when he thinks about his first day of school (aren’t we all!), but when he quizzes his parents and elderly aunts about their fears, he discovers that everyone is afraid of something.

Garmanns Sommer (You guessed it: Garmann’s Summer)

Little Naomi, Little Chick, originally published in Israel, helps us peek into the very busy day of a preschooler in Israel. Little Naomi’s adventures are not unlike the adventures of preschoolers in our own country. What may not be common knowledge for young readers is how Little Chick’s very busy day in the barnyard compares to their own busy days.

Little Naomi, Little Chick (in Hebrew)

So once again, here at the Bologna Book Fair, we meet with longstanding publishing colleagues from around the world and enjoy making some new friends along the way. Together, we marvel over the wealth of beautiful books and enjoy the company of our colleagues who are all working toward that common goal of making and sharing the best books for our children.

But in between all of the meetings — we hope to make time to eat and enjoy some extraordinary food!


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Click here to read “Picture Book Diplomacy,” an Eerdlings post about the 2013 Bologna Book Fair.