The Bologna Children’s Book Fair has released its schedule for the virtual edition of the fair, which will be held from May 4–7. The online edition includes exhibitions, conferences, and even illustrator portfolio reviews. “We have been working nonstop for weeks to see this happen and feel we have come up with the best approximate experience of actually being in Bologna at the fair that we can with the tools available,” exhibition manager Elena Pasoli told PW.

Key to this new fair has been the launch of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair Global Rights Exchange, powered by, which allows rights professionals to exchange information and set up face-to-face meetings directly on the platform, conducted using Zoom or GoToMeeting. “Registration is open for this, though it is restricted to people in the rights trade,” Pasoli said.

Some other features have just gone live, including a virtual exhibition called A Universe of Stories: Starring the Book and the opening of submissions for a virtual version of Bologna’s online illustrator’s wall.

The virtual fair itself will open on Monday, May 4, with a video conference featuring publishers from around the globe discussing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their industries, including Jack Jensen from Chronicle Books. That day will also feature a panel discussion about the comic book and graphic novel market with Ivanka Hahnenberger of VIP Licensing and PW’s Calvin Reid. The winners of the Bologna Prize for Best Children’s Publisher of the Year will also be announced. The Licensing Trade Fair will host a webinar on how illustrators can work in non-editorial roles, such as with television and video game producers.

Tuesday, May 5 at 12:01 a.m. Bologna time will see the kick off the 24-hour Worldwide Illustrators Survival Portfolio Review, with 24 different illustrators, art directors, and agents taking turns, one each hour, to each review 10 illustration portfolios. Reviewers include New York Times Book Review children’s books editor Maria Russo and Chronicle Books editor Naomi Kirsten. Later that day, the fair will offer an online panel discussion on the state of children’s publishing in China.

Wednesday, May 6 will feature a special edition of Bologna’s annual Dust or Magic master class focusing on innovations in children’s digital publishing.

Each day highlights a variety of different categories of the Bologna Ragazzi awards, which will celebrate the winning books with videos and panel discussions.

Several online exhibitions are scheduled to launch during the fair, including a solo exhibition of works by the Iranian artist Hassan Mousavi, and another celebrating the 10th anniversary of the International Illustration Award of Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

Pasoli said more events and details will be added soon. “It has been a learning experience for all of us and it is amazing to see what you can do virtually that replicates what you might experience in person,” she said. “Who knows, maybe we are creating a new template for a book fair, one that merges the physical world with a virtual one.”