At the opening ceremony of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair Monday, a large number of dignitaries and officials gathered to launch the event’s 55th edition. This year’s guest of honor, China, was represented by Li Ruiyu, the Chinese ambassador to Italy; Zhao Haiyun, deputy director general of the State Adminstration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television; and Li Xueqian, co-organizer of the China Pavilion and president of China Children’s Press & Publication Group (as well as the president of the Chinese section of the International Board on Books for Young People). Other speakers included the general manager of the Bologna Book Fair and the mayor of Bologna.

All major Chinese children’s publishers attended the opening ceremony. “Bologna Book Fair is the biggest global platform where authors, illustrators, publishers, and promoters of children’s books meet and communicate with one another,” says Bai Bing, editor-in-chief of Jieli Publishing, and a renowned Chinese children’s author. “So there is no better—or more appropriate—platform than Bologna to showcase the best of Chinese works and content creators, especially at this moment in time when the Chinese children’s book market is booming.”

Li Xueqian hopes that “the key events organized by China as the guest country at this year’s Bologna Children’s Book Fair will deepen global understanding on Chinese children’s book publishing, and create more opportunities for win-win collaboration between Chinese and international professionals engaged in the children’s books publishing industry.”

In total, there are 1,390 exhibitors from 77 countries at this year’s fair, a 8.3% increase over 2017. There is also a special illustration exhibition featuring 150 selected pieces from 30 Chinese artists.