Bologna - Pretty Pictures!

As I mentioned, all the children's book fairs like this one are held in destination cities - places where people love to visit. That's part of how they bring in all the big name players! So, of course, I have to share some of the awesomeness that is Bologna on my last day...forget the order, these are going to come in all higgeldy piggeldy...
     Bologna is beautiful and ancient.

The main plaza or piazza in Bologna is the Piazza Maggiore, home to the Neptune Fountain. It's being restored right now, so is roped off, but Hannah Sanguinetti (Scottish illustrator friend), Pilar García de Leániz (we did our MFA together), Amy Dover (new Graduate Program Director of Illustration at the University of Edinburgh) and I had to have a photo anyhow...
The Piazza is the heart of the city. It hosted a bus strike on Thursday morning.
Only to be followed by lovely music and happy crowds later in the day.
Off of Piazza Maggiore are a gazillion little alleyways that host little shops and restaurants.

There was also a fishmonger selling fish to locals (we were totally in the way).
But how in the world would you even try to eat something like this eel - it was about the size of a tire!
I did a whole post years ago about the covered walkways of Bologna, which are a UNESCO historical site. Along all those walkways are stores galore! I was so bummed this shop wasn't open when I went by it, I so would have bought this shirt!
But I treat myself to some nice leather gloves. (I bought some red leather gloves in Florence when I was a teenager on a student trip and I still have them!) While this bike wasn't new, it was new to me. I saw several parents with their kids in the back on bikes like these.
As chance would have it, I ran into Pilar again and we had lunch. (Bologna is a surprisingly small town.) (We split a pasta ragu of course, hand-made pasta made by the woman in the window!)
Amy caught up with us again and the three of us nailed THE table overlooking the Piazza. Amy pulled out her drawing pencils that she always has with her...
and well, it was a table of illustrators. What do you think happened? We drew all over the menus of course!
After a day of shopping and eating pasta, gelato, etc., I met up with another friend who I was so happy to run into from Scotland, Miriam Johnson and her friend Polly Silk. Miriam and I met up with Blythe Robertson earlier during the fair (you may remember their names from several posts when Stan and I lived in Scotland) - another wonderful surprise! We wandered from pub to pub because restaurants in Bologna don't even open until 8:00pm. But we finally had an amazing dinner, although I was ready to POP by then!

This was Polly's dish.
Happily, all I had left to do was to roll into bed and get up at an ungodly hour to get to the airport and begin the long, several-legged flight home.
     Home. Ahhhhh. It's good to be back, but WOW, what an adventure I had!

Bologna Children's Book Fair:
01: To Bologna!
02: More Bologna!
03: Bologna - pretty pictures!

More Bologna!

Here I am with my obligatory photo with the main event sign.
In my last post, I shared the beginning of my Bologna trip - as in Monday! Heck, I wasn't able to even finish Monday - there was more!
      Remember the Anglia Ruskin booth I talked about? Well, it's also where PictureHooks hosted a party on Tuesday evening. PictureHooks was the Scottish organization that made me decide to go to the University of Edinburgh for my MFA and it was co-founded by my dear friend and author Vivian French, who was there! We had a lovely lunch together and caught up on all our news on Monday, so Tuesday was just more hugs and love. The party was a blast too. I ran into so many friends from Edinburgh! Like Katie Chappell and Hannah Sanguinetti. Petros Panaou also joined us - he put on the Georgia Conference on Children's Literature where I gave a keynote and a workshop at the beginning of April at the University of Georgia. (I'm behind on my blog posts, but I hope to add it soon!). Petros and I ended up making each other our "plus one" at several parties, so we opened doors for each other. What a small world our children's book world is! We end up having friends all over the world!
     Monday also saw IBBY's (International Board on Books for Young People) announcement of the Hans Christian Andersen Award. What a thrill to be there in person for that!

Even better, the head of the Children's Lit program, Evelyn Arizpe, at the University of Glasgow, where I did my PhD, was one of the judges! She was following online from Mexico.
The after-party was fun too and I met lovely people.
And I honestly have lost track of which day the Astrid Lindgren Award was announced, but I was there for that too!
So was Dav Pilkey's Dog Man.
     Days 2 and 3 gave me the chance to walk around and enjoy some of the presentations. For instance, Mac Barnett was there announcing his new book for adults about why children's books are so important. It was a really good talk! (If you don't know who Mac Barnett is, click on his name, you're sure to know his books!)
I attended two talks by the illustrious Leonard Marcus. How we met is actually a funny story from 2012. You might know him from the museum show on children's books that was at the New York Public Library several years ago, or the one that is on now at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. Or maybe you know him from his books. This is his latest. We spoke and he might even come down to the Smithsonian to meet my students if I can arrange a field trip!
I also enjoyed at talk at the PublisHER booth about AI. Sarah Baker, Executive Director of SCBWI was on the panel. She and I are hoping to do some big things in the near future, so stay tuned for that!
Of course, one of the main reasons I went to this year's fair is because I met the creators of the Illustrators' Survival Corner, Giacomo Benelli and Ivan Canu in Shanghai, and they invited me to give portfolio reviews at Bologna! Sadly, I didn't get any photos, but I had a blast talking to such dedicated creators! Being invited to give portfolio reviews there is quite the honor, so I was thrilled to be able to take them up on it... because of the other main reason I was at the fair... At Hollins University, we are expanding our MFA in Children's Book Writing and Illustrating program to now also have a year-round option (along with our summers-only option). This opens the door for international students to attain visas to come study with us. Hence, the posters and the brochures and bookmarks I was sharing everywhere, and also the conversations I had with people. Days 2 and 3, I spoke with publishers in several international booths including the United Arab Emirates, Rwanda, Nigeria, Bangkok, Taipei, Mongolia, Taiwan, Belgium, and Canada. Many have developing children's book markets and want help taking their books to the next level - this is where we come in!
     A fellow portfolio reviewer turned out to be Eric Telfort, program director at RISD - we met at ICON two years ago. If was fun seeing him in his element talking about character design.
I even got to see a live demo of an illustrator doing a lino-cut LIVE for onlookers.
     Gads, I didn't even mention some of the gorgeous books I got to see! Out of the thousands, tens-of-thousands these were some of my faves.

     As I left the fair, I had to take a photo of this wonderful quote set into the stepping stones, because wow is this true about my life right now. It says "every step I have taken in my life has led me here, now."

     Tuesday evening I attended a private party hosted by SCBWI at the adorable bookstore, Libreria Trame. I was having so much fun, I forgot to take pictures and especially wish I'd gotten the photo of Barbara McClintock, Martha Rago, and me - we had a wonderful and long overdue sit-down. (Martha will be speaking at Hollins this summer.)
     Okay, okay, I know you really just want to see more Bologna, so that will be in my next post!

Bologna Children's Book Fair:
01: To Bologna!
02: More Bologna!
03: Bologna - pretty pictures!

To Bologna!

I've just returned from the Bologna Children's Book Fair in Italy!! I arrived in the evening to the loveliest Airbnb picked out by my two roommates, Elisabeth Norton (SCBWI Assistant International Advisor from Switzerland) and Melanie Welfing (SCBWI Global Regions Coordinator-International from the Netherlands). Traveling with friends makes complicated travel so much easier!
Here was the view from our lovely flat on the west end of the city.
We went to a wonderful restaurant, Casa Alta Bella, where I had my first pasta ragu of the trip.
I wanted to get to bed early, though, because the first day of the Book Fair can be a bit crazy!
     Bright and early, the first challenge was the bus. Just when you'd think noone else could fit, five more people would get on. And it was hot. Everyone was heading to the fair! (Or so it seemed.)

The Bologna Children's Book Fair is an enormous, international event celebrating its 61st year, with over 100 countries represented, 1,523 exhibition booths across six huge halls, and over 30,000 attendees. Each of the halls is about the size of a football field (or pitch, depending on where you're from). Walking the fair offsets all the pasta and gelato you eat in this food mecca!
Each year, a different country is featured. This year was Slovenia as guest of honor.
     It’s important to arrive at the fair first thing Monday morning as the Illustrator Walls fill up quickly, despite the fact that they go on, and on, and on! Illustrators from around the world come to the Fair to share their work on the Illustrator’s Walls. It's really impossible to get the full scope of how much work is represented, but maybe the photos will give you an idea...

I hurried to find space to put up our fantastic Hollins' posters designed by Sharon M. and with Mary Jane Begin's Cat in the Hat (MJ is our Chair of Illustration). Her work really stood out! I found some clear spots...

Although they didn't stay clear for long!

I put brochures on the floor underneath the posters and along the illustrator walls (this is commonly done) and went back to check from time to time and replenish diminishing numbers. Happily, I had to replenish our offerings several times!
     Once that was all in place, I was able to walk around and enjoy the fair and the many, many art shows that display talented illustrators' works throughout the fair. For instance, I found the work of several friends in The Original Art Show. That's R. Gregory Christie's work in the right corner!
Some booths are just down and dirty to get the rights work done, like Charlesbridge's booth:
But some really go all out and are wildly creative! Here's the Plum booth, for example:
and the Moomin booth:
and the Anglia Ruskin booth. I think they win for biggest bang for the bucks design in the entire fair.
     The evening was topped off by the private publishers party.
I was invited because I was giving portfolio reviews the next day - more on that in my next post!
     Needless to say, it was a long day and it was impossible to do it all. Heck, it's impossible to fit it all into one post. So stay tuned for more!

Bologna Children's Book Fair:
01: To Bologna!
02: More Bologna!
03: Bologna - pretty pictures!