The biggest international event for children’s book professionals gets underway in just a few weeks; at the 53rd iteration of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, taking place April 4–7, there are plenty of additions, including new awards, special exhibitions, and a focus on new media.

The First Digital Media Hall

New to the fair this year is the Digital Media Hall (located in Hall 32), which the Bologna organizers have developed in response to the growing interest in new media, with publishers’ increasing stakes in the arenas of TV, movie, and apps. The hall will target publishers, licensors, Web developers, and others with a diverse array of programming, including presentations from international digital companies that are innovating in apps and education, digital and print services, and using tools, virtual reality, and more to engage readers.

This Year’s Prizes

A major highlight at each fair are the BolognaRagazzi Awards. This year, 1,448 titles from 43 countries were considered for recognition in the fields of fiction, nonfiction, emerging markets, and debut works. This year also marks the first BolognaRagazzi Award for Disability, which will honor books that represent notable international works for children with disabilities. In addition, the fourth annual BolognaRagazzi Digital Award will be given out this year, a prize for digital publishing and apps for young readers.

Illustrating the World

This year, the Book Fair’s Illustrators’ Exhibition is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The exhibition gathers artists from around the world to highlight new developments in children’s book illustration, as well as to offer a meeting place for book creators to discover and discuss new work. The exhibition showcases a shortlist of illustrators whose work will be on display during the fair, chosen by a jury (this year composed of illustrators Sergio Ruzzier, Taro Miura, and Nathan Fox, and publishers Francine Bouchet and Klaus Humann). One participant in the exhibition under 30 years old will be awarded the Fundacion SM International Illustrator award, which includes $30,000 and the opportunity to develop a career in children’s books over the following year. Following Bologna, the exhibition will travel to Japan and China.

And for those already familiar with the fair, the usual business is still scheduled: four days of meetings with editors, agents, and publishers from around the world, a special focus on one nation’s publishing industry (this year, Germany, where YA is a dominant category, as are sophisticated picture books), and, of course, plenty of sunshine and pasta. Buon viaggio!

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