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Bologna Children’s Book Fair: An illustrator’s view

This week on the blog we’re joined by illustrator Emma Shoard as she takes us through her first experience of Bologna Children’s Book Fair!

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.

A photograph of a view of a bologna street The cover of the Italian edition of The Pavee and the Buffer Girl (il Pavee é la Ragazza)

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.

An image of the 'walls of illustration' at Bologna
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.

A photograph of a table display of books showing a stack of the Italian edition of The Pavee and the Buffer Girl  A photograph of Emma holding artwork from The Pavee and the Buffer Girl

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.

Photograph of Emma accepting the Orbil Award in the YA Category

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.

A sketch by Emma of Bologna A sketch by Emma of Bologna A sketch by Emma of Bologna


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:

Dumb Chocolate Eyes by Kevin BrooksCover image for Good Boy by Mal Peet and Emma Shoard. The cover is dark black and blue with the words Good Boy written in gold over a haunting illustration of a large black dog with golden eyes

And to read more from Emma check-out these previous blog posts:

Banner image for the blog 'Illustrating The Family Tree with Emma Shoard'

Banner image for the blog 'The Evolution of THE PAVEE AND THE BUFFER GIRL with Emma Shoard'

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