Last week I made my first journey to Bologna Children’s Book Fair, leather portfolio, sketchbook and books squished into one piece of hand-luggage with my clothes and a smart pair of shoes. I was very lucky to have been invited by IBBY Italia to come and speak about my book The Pavee and the Buffer Girl (il Pavee é la Ragazza in Italy) at an event on diversity at the fair, and I planned to make the most of my time there.
I landed in Bologna on day two of the fair, at which point the huge ‘walls of illustration’ were already covered in cards, posters and drawings from other visiting illustrators. I added mine.
The Astrid Lindgren Prize was being announced as I walked through the first chamber, but even an event of this kind didn’t mean everything else stopped. Instead there was an impression of many important things happening all at once. With this in mind it was amazing to see so many people in the audience for ‘Storie diverse per Diverse storie’ where I spoke alongside poets, authors and editors on inclusivity and access to books for everyone.
The following morning I officially received the very good news that il Pavee é la Ragazza had been chosen as one of the Premio Orbil winners, a prize for children’s books chosen by independent booksellers! After the exciting announcement I signed books for a few nice people at the Uovonero stand, publishers of the Italian edition. Their stand, decorated with soft blue colour pencil illustrations from Francesca Corso, was a nice refuge for me over the two days of my visit. They had their own espresso machine.
When the main events were over, I found that I had a whole afternoon ahead of me to explore the rest of the fair and to try to catch a few people at the stands I’d admired in passing. With so many other illustrators at the fair I expected that publishers might be a bit tired of us, but I was able to have several genuinely lovely conversations with people who must have been on a short break from their day of back-to-back meetings. If there was no one free at a stand there was usually a little basket where you could drop off a business card.
In the evenings as a solo traveller I had time to myself to eat tagliatelle and consider the advice received and connections I’d made. For a day after the fair, I made time to draw.
Thank you Emma and another huge congratulations from all of the Barrington Stoke Team on your Premio Orbil Award!
If you’d like to pick up a copy of Emma’s stunningly illustrated books just click on the covers below:
And to read more from Emma check-out these previous blog posts: