Thursday, 25 March 2010

Bologna Children's Book Fair - Fundaciòn SM International Prize for Illustration

The Bologna Children's Book Fair keeps giving emotions and surprises.

The artist awarded by the Bologna Children's Book Fair - Fundaciòn SM International Prize for Illustration for 2010 is

Philip Giordano

his works, published by Zoolibri, and talent have guaranteed Philip Giordano this prestigious award. The jury recognized in Giorndano's artistic act the presence of culture and knowledge of art history mixed wit a highly refined vision of the present. Despite his young age, he was born in 1980, and his shyness, Philip Giordano has already the intensity of an artist deeply rooted into his imaginary.

With Zoolibri, Giordano has already published three picture books: Mamma chi sono io? (2006), L’isola del piccolo mostro nero-nero (2008), and Chissadove (2009).

For more information about him you can visit this link:

Ars in Fabula - Master in Mostra

This afternoon at 18,30, at the Baracca-Testoni Ragazzi, within the Bolibri calendar, there will be the grand-opening of the exhibit

100 racconti, 100 immagini - ARS IN FABULA, il master in mostra*

by Ars in Fabula, master in illustration finalised to publishing, Fabbrica delle Favone, Macertata.

It's an exhibit that collects all the works by the alumnus who already obtained their degree, some of which have already obtained important recognitions some of which in publishing: such as Sara Gavioli (see illustration reproduced here below) who has illustrated “La governante” by Osmont for Orecchio Acerbo publishing house, and of Marco Lafirenza who has published “Io credo agli unicorni” by Morpurgo with Rizzoli Publishing, but also with other important recognitions.
In fact, Laura Paoletti, has been selected at the Bologna book Fair for the internarional exhibition devoted to Gianni Rodari, titled “Grammatica delle figure”. The plate you'll see at the show illustrates one of Rodari's nursery-rhymes titled "Lo spazzacamino", that is part of the collection "Filastrocche in cielo e in terra".


The grand-opening will be introduced by Walter Fochesato.

For more information about Ars in Fabula, the master programmes, summer classes and Fabbrica delle Favole, please go to:

*100 tales, 100 images – ARS IN FABULA, the master in show!
The illustration has been reproduced with the permission of Ars in Fabula, Fabbrica delle Favole. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Hans Christian Ansersen Award 2010 - Winners

A very short post to announce the winners of the International

Hans Christian Andersen Award for 2010

Per la categoria Scrittori: David Almond

For the author's cathegory the other names in nomination were: Ahmad Reza Ahmadi, from  Iran; David Almond, United Kingdom; Bartolomeu Campos de Queiros from Brasil; Lennart Hellsing from Sweden and Louis Jensen from Danemark.

Per la categoria Illustratori: Jutta Bauer

For the illustrator's cathegory the other names in nomination were: Carll Cneut, from Belgium; Etienne Delessert, from Switzerland; Svjetlan Junakovic, from Croatia and Roger Mello from Brasile.

Some short news about the winners

David Almond, born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1951, he writes his first novel "Skelling" in 1998. Almond had already obtained other important awards before receiving the Hans Christian Andersen Award such as: the Whitbread Children's Novel of the Year Award, with the novel The Fire Eaters, and the Carnegie Medal.

Amid his books: Kit's Wilderness (1999), Secret Heart (2001), Clay (2005), Jackdaw Summer (2008) and The Savage (2008), Almond also wrote a play titled Wild Girl, Wild Boy.

Some of his recurring subjects have to do with constrasts such as life and death, past/present, but also education, nature, always with a particoularly careful insight on teenagers.
This is his website:  

Jutta Bauer, born in Hamburg in 1955, is one of the most known illustrators and cartoonist. She obtained her university degree at the Hamburg Technical College of Design, she started working as cartoonist for a female magazine and then started with illustration. Her picture book titled Schreimutter won the  Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis Prize (German Youth Literature Award), in 2001.

Amid her books please note:

Ein Engel trägt meinen Hinkelstein
Opas Engel
Die Königin der Farben
Abends, wenn ich schlafen geh
Ich sitze hier im Abendlicht

ALMA Award 2010

What an incredible emotion!

The winner of the 2010 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award is


The awarding ceremony, that just took place at the Fiera del Libro di Bologna, with the announcement coming directly from Sweden. This wasn't an emotion for Kitty Crowther alone, but for all of us who were present.
For me in particular, because I deeply esteem this author and illustrator, for the difficult themes she treats, for her unique genius, for the highly sensible and ironic glance that characterizes all her stories.

Last year Kitty Crowther had already received the Baobab Prix, during the last Salon de Montreuil for the picture book

"Annie du Lac", texts and images by Kitty Crowther, Ed. Pastel, Octtober 2009

Annie du Lac is a story on loneliness and sadness because, as a song very dear to Nick Hornby used to say: "no man is an island"... in this book, in fact, the islands are three! Though these are not just islands: they are giants, good giants (reminding of the vigorous kindliness of Dahl's BFG) who will take Annie to a new life, towards that same world flowing just out of Annie's empty and sad house.

Though the book by Kitty Crowther I prefer is

 La visite de Petite Mort, texts and images by Kitty Crowther, Ed. Lutin Poche, December 2005

Death is a very difficult topic to face, especially when you have to explain it to kids: the main difficulty lays much more in our pain and embarrassment than in real lack of understanding for kids part. This picture book has lots to teach to everyone, maybe this is even truer for adults that it is for children.

Crowther's sensitivity in approaching topics like death and illness, the gentleness she has in touching the very feelings of those suffering, can be fully understood only when you live those experiences on your own skin. The comfort you can find in this book and the lesson you can learn are timeless.

My personal thanks to this special woman, for the emotions, the smile, the joy and comfort she gave me.

For more information on Kitty Crowther, please go to:

Let me signall a very nice article, followed by an in-depth interview with Kitty Crowther, that appeared on the last number of the Magazine Hors Cadre[s], n. 6, mars-septembre 2010, pages 26-29.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

"Migrando" and "L'Ombra e Il Bagliore" - Orecchio Acerbo

I'm writing some news directly from the Bologna Children's Book Fair. To this purpose I opened a new section of the blog called "Extra-wire news" to update you in real time with short information I consider of particular interest.

I'm starting this session with the presentation of a Picture Book and a tale by Jack London, both by Orecchio Acerbo  Publishing House.

"Migrando" is the new picture book by  Mariana Chiesa Mateos, Orecchio Acerbo Editore, March 2010.

It has been officially presented here at the show, this morning, by the author herself and by Christine Weise, President of Amnesty International Italy, who has welcomed and supported the publication of the book with great interest.

Migrando is a wordless picture book, a wonderful book, that has a double reading because it describes two sorts of migration confronting and meeting: the first is the one we can read in history books, the second much more modern and dramatically close to all of us. The double reading of this book consists as well in the gesture the reader has to do in order to pass from the first to the second part of the book, as he needs to rotate it. As Simone Tonucci, the publisher, was rightly saying during the press conference, the rotation allows  the reader to clearly perceive a change in perspective, almost a suggestion to try and switch our point of view finalized to a better comprehension of ideas that might differ from ours.

Here a more in-depth analysis, in the section War and Roundabouts.

The second text I suggest is

"L'Ombra e il Bagliore", text by Jack London, illustrations by Fabian Negrin, translation from English by Giorgia Grilli, Orecchio Acerbo Editore, February 2010 - with conclusions by Goffredo Fofi, original title: The Shadow and the Flash

L'Ombra e il Bagliore is a complex tale, a difficult one, written by London in the last part of his writing career - as Goffredo Fofi was rightly saying during the presentation. It's an "obscure" text in the real meaning of this term, as it's entirely hinged upon the ideas of shadow and light: the two leading characters, Paul and Lloyd, live a life of rivalry that will bring to a  crescendo of intellectual challenges, up to the final explosion. One of them tries to reproduce absolute black, the other pursues total transparency, both are taking up perfect invisibility in a down to the last blood drop fight.
The illustration and graphic behind this book are enormous: there are hollow punches reproducing brush strokes, acetates, tissue-papers, up to original cuts of the pages, always hiding and playing with double.

The cover is to be noticed: it reproduces the last image of the book, whose concept is summarized in a perfect synthesis. It is an expensive book, but it's worth every penny. Don't miss it.

This is all for the moment, I'll be back soon!

Monday, 22 March 2010

La Coda Canterina - Topipittori

"La coda canterina", texts by Guia Risari, illustrations by Violeta Lopiz, Publisher Topipittori, March 2010.

Let's try to remember how many kind of tails we know: there's the dog's tail, always ready to waggle; the cow's tail, that sometimes has a funny tuft at the end; the noble and luxurious horse's tail; the beaver's tail, flat and rounded, just like a scull; the squirrel's springing tail, always perfectly combed; the lion's tail, with a small mane at its edge; the cat's tail, that blows like a could ready to pour rain when the cat is hungry.

Well, for all the tales you'll be able to remember, I am sure that none, and I mean none, will ever be like this tail.

Why? There are at least three good reasons: the first is that this tail belongs to a child; the second consists in its length that equals earth's circumference; the third reason is that this tail sings with a heavenly voice, it sings so well that it would bewitch everybody, you too!

But let's start from the beginning: one morning a boy wakes up but he's not alone anymore, he is in company with a tail, his tail. The night before it wasn't there and now, here it is, firm at its place. The boy tries to hide it at first, without success, he then tries to drawn it in the bathtub but with no result. The tail starts to produce noise, at the point that the boy's parents end up breaking into the bathroom and discover the mystery. Oh my God, a tail! Worse: a singing tail! A cheeky tail that doesn't obey mom and dad's orders.

What to say? This is an awful, awkward, perturbing situation.

If you lived as well "in un paese minuscolo, così piccolo che il nome era più grande del paese"*, then you would know that you can't keep a secret too long. Much better involve also the other inhabitants then, not to afford the situation alone, who knows, maybe somebody could find a resolution to the problem.

No inhabitant of the village sees the tail as a deformity, it's more an inconvenient they want to get rid of: it's a problem that needs a resolution to be found all together. This is why, when someone suggests pulling the tail, the whole village is ready to help.

It's a fun picture book, surreal, that unties (this is really worthy saying) around an unusual protagonist like only a tie singing old Russian folk songs can be. This book has an old-fashioned taste from some point of view, starting with the sing-song the tail is singing, to end with the tiny-winy village, where everybody knows each other and help out; it's also a bit rural, for that strong sense of community that recalls life in the old farm-yard houses of the beginning of the twentieth century. Though nothing makes us understand if this is true as this is, at the same time, a perfectly modern story.

Guia Risari is very good at measuring little hints of magic, with a good amount of ironic and amused smile, mixed with the more concrete reality of the little village portrayed in its typical dynamics. A nice text, pressing, with a cultivated language. The illustrations by Violeta Lopiz, all played around a very simple chromaticism (white, black, different shades of grey and red) and a mixed technique, are wonderful. Her characters so well defined and recognizable go with the tale underlying the crescendo of the urgency, emphasized by the text's rhythm. The plate where the boy's parents are portrayed in foreground, once they get to know about the problem, is simply stunning.

This book is a beautiful journey: the fellow-countrymen's journey, pulling the tail till they go round the world, and our journey as, page after page, we discover what can't be seen.

Copyright© text and images by Topipittori 2010. Images have been reproduced with the permission of the Publishing House.

*"in a tiny village, so tiny that its name was bigger than the village itself"

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Bologna Children's Book Fair (March 23rd-26th 2010)

I love the Bologna Children's Book Fair! Why, you might wonder? In the end it's a fair where you make business, a place where you sell and buy book rights, where trade is fundamental for those who buy a booth, as in any other show in the rest of the world.

Though, once a year, the exhibiting centre's grey walls change their DNA: their structure seems lighter and sinuous, its spaces seem bigger and nicer because - once a year - the fair becomes the beating heart of children's literature and the world tastes differently.

Those who believe that this fair is just business are making a gross mistake, a glance to the programme will be enough to understand the work and passion that are necessary to put together all this. Beside business there are seminars, meetings, events, intellectual exchanges that could grant vital sap for the rest of the year. Of course you must be interested in all this if you wish to participate, maybe this is why it's not open to public. For sure this is not a place where you can bring kids for a break, somewhere you can go to make a ludic excursion: it's more for teachers, authors, illustrators, professionals of this field.

Those who think of coming at the fair with their cheques ready and their wallet full of hope, will be carried away by a wave of art in perpetual changement, they will be projected in a renewed imaginary, they will win back old memories, sensations, forgotten flavours.

Art, yes, in its higher peaks, I truly mean this.

I'm talking to you sirs, you who look down at children's literature turning up your noble noses!! To those who believe that to illustrate a children's book it's enough to simplify shapes, to use basic colours, to make things look sweeter I just want to say one thing: open your eyes, that in this world there are artists that have nothing to fear if compared to those who believe to be representing real Art, to those who look down at the world from their ivory towers. These artists have a lot to say, because their gesture is free from mental bonds, their approach to the world is absolutely frank, ironic, also disenchanted at times, and bitter: a view where sickly has no space. Shall I give you an example? Well, take a look at Mattotti's version of Hänsel and Gretel... ain't this art?

I'm talking to you who believe that writing a children's book is a trifle: well you should try to, why don't you? Only then, you will be able to tell me if taking off all the mental superstructures we get dressed with, in favour of simpler clothes without being banal, without using those honeyed and cloying words that bore kids much more than adults, has been so easy. Do try to keep young readers inconstant attention, there's a world out there that needs being discovered can you give them a good reason not to remove their gaze from your page?
Those who ever read Bianca Pitzorno, Angela Nanetti, Roberto Piumini, Rebecca Stead, Timothée de Fombelle, only to mention a few, would know that there's nothing they should envy to writers such as Barricco, or Stefano Benni, or Ammaniti, or Stephen King (and here too the list would be much longer)... It could as well be true the other way around. Let me ask you something: why, on your opinion, many of the biggest writers of all times, at least once in their lives, have written a children’s book? And I'm not just thinking of Dickens, I'm talking of Moravia for instance, or Umberto Eco, or Elsa Morante, Jean Giono, Herman Hesse, Nazim Hikmet, Mordecai Richler, Eric Emmanuel Schmitt, and many others.

After this animated praise, I believe you could better understand the winds of passion that animate the Bologna Book Fair and the peaks it can reach.

Of course, close to the highest expressions of art there are the typical cheap products, the ones made to sell, not necessarily to elevate, despite this though culture is present and well represented and this is not unimportant, especially in this country that has been the land of literature and now risks to become once for all a dump of obviousness and ignorance, in the European country with the smallest average of books read in one year.

I shall never get tired of repeating it: culture is freedom, let's fight for it!

P.S. I have just received a newsletter from Orecchio Acerbo Publishing House, where I found this article titled: "I libri che stanno facendo tremare Geronimo Stilton"*, excellent new to end my post with!

*"The books Geronimo Stilton is afraid of"

Monday, 8 March 2010

Two Picture Books from Sarbacane

Today I shall introduce two new picture books published by Sarbacane respectively in January and February: "Coline" and "L'étrange projet de Monsieur G.".

Coline, texts by Alex Cousseau, illustrations by Chiaki Mijamoto, Editions Sarbacane, Jannuary 2009

Coline is a story about the friendship between a swallow, Coline, and Youyou, the turtle.

The two friends are inseparable, they happily play hide and seek on the beach, but autumn is incumbent and Coline starts feeling a strong instinct to abandon the country to migrate south. Youyou feels so sorry, she can't stand the idea to loose her friend, even if she knows that one day Coline will come back.

What could she do then? Maybe she could take a little souvenir of her friend, to warm her heart up during the long winter? Maybe a small feather, that smells of her, but will one feather be enough? Maybe two would do better than just one... Pushed by the wish to keep her friend close to her, Youyou doesn't fully understand what she is doing: poor Coline, who was so happy for the upcoming departure, will be quickly left featherless and she won't be able to leave as she had planned. Why, why did my dearest friend do this to me? She will ask herself. Youyou will have to find a solution to for the damage she has caused, and maybe she will as well find a way not to separate from her darling friend.

The power of friendship and the sadness caused by abandonment are the two topics that characterise this picture book for younger kids. The feeling of possession that Youyou feels doesn't allow her to immediately understand the hill she's doing to her friend and, maybe, in every friendship there is a moment like this, when we grow older as well.

This story tender and melancholy teaches us that we can't just think of ourselves, of our feelings, on the contrary we should think of those we love, to protect them from our small or big selfishness as well. And if we do something wrong we should try to find a remedy for it, with the means we can count on and with pure heart.

As I was just saying, this is a lesson that is good at all ages, because friendship is probably the purest feeling we could ever feel, as it's not ruled by relative bonds, or from other impulse other than selfless love.

This little picture book, full of poetry, is the result of the collaboration between two artists quite new to children's literature but already widely credited. Alex Cousseau, who started his career in 2004, has published with l'Ecole des Loisirs, for Le Rouergue he has written novels for kids and teenagers, and now Sarbacane publishes this picture book. His picture book titled "Dans moi', illustrated by Kitty Crowther, has been published in Italy by Topipittori Pub. House.     Chiaki Miyamoto, born in Osaka, lives in France since 2000, in 2003 she gets her degree at Emile Cohl's School in Lyon where she still lives nowadays: she has published several picture books with Gallimard Jeunesse, Belem, Nathan and Milan.

Of this book I have admired the gentleness and the sensibility of both, author and illustrator, dealing with the themes of friendship, touching the deepest reasons that lead us to behave incorrectly at times but also underlying e importance of opening mind and heart, in the effort of understanding the reasons of other people.

The illustrations, in their essential simplicity, enter the story quietly, to win readers' attention with the sober and soft lines and the bright colours.

From three years old on.

L'étrange projet de monsieur G., text and illustrations by Gustavo Roldan, translation from Spanish by Jacques Fuentealba, Editions Sarbacane, February 2010

Le me start by saying that, in this book, there is no reference to our Mr G. (Il Signor G. a.k.a Giorgio Gaber). Even if maybe, Gaber himself, would have appreciated its message, the surreal setting and that vein of madness, if madness is the right word, that animates this Mr G.

But let's start from the beginning!

Gustavo Roldan lives in Barcelona, and this could partly explain the flowery taste of some of the illustrations of this book, but he was born in Argentina, and maybe from here come its boundless spaces.

His Mr G. lives in a small village in the middle of the desert. It's a desert where nothing happens, nothing grows, and everything seems to be motionless for good. Everything is dry and silent, an eternal moment, suspended, as if we were in one of those desert scenes of Sergio Leone's western movies. In this desert, Mr. G lives politely with his neighbours, they say hello, and they make sure that everything is all right...

Until, one day, Mr G has a queer idea.

Well, let's say a mad idea: he decides to plant a flower in the desert to "poner un poco de música en este lugar"!*

His wise neighbours know for sure that no flower can rise in the desert, and flowers can't make any music for sure, Mr G. must have grown a little mad. What will happen with the seed that has been planted? Will it grow? Will it sing? I shall let you find the answer yourselves.

The apparent playfulness of the book, with its illustrations and their slightly stereotyped and ludicrous côtè, the light lines and the white background, hide a very serious message: personal initiative, when it's devoted to improve human condition, can change also those situations that are apparently lifeless. Didn't a precious flower grow on Saint Exupéry's desert moon? Thus, maybe, even if we look like mad at other people's eyes, we can try to grow our own sounding flower in the desert and, if it ever blows, who will be mad then?

Idling won't help change things, therefore our Mr G., with his likely desperate gesture, starts a little civil revolution that will bring to an unexpected and welcome changement in his village. To each one of us his own choice: are we mad or wise?

This picture book, with the title "El Señor G.", has been originarily released by the newborn Publishing House A Buen Paso (it's the same publisher that released another little masterpiece: Papá Tatuado, produced in Italy by Orecchio Acerbo)

Copyright© text and images by Editions Sarbacane 2010. Images have been reproduced with the permission of the Publishing House.

* "bring some music in this place"

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Three names and a publisher!

Due to lack of time, today's post will be very short, though I couldn't avoid signalling a real masterpiece: for once I'm not talking of books but of a dvd.

The three names are: Gioacchino Rossini, Emanuele Luzzati and Giulio Gianini.
The publisher: Gallucci.
The dvd, Omaggio a Rossini, contains: L'italiana in Algeri, Pulcinella and La Gazza Ladra.
Content: the dvd and a booklet where Luzzati's animations are shortly explained, with a preface letter by Federico Fellini and conclusions by Gianini and Luzzati.

As I was saying the preface is a letter by Federico Fellini, where the director declares all his admiration for "la fantasia figurativa, l'estro umoristico, il senso della fiaba e le geniali soluzioni grafiche"* characterising Luzzati and Gianini's work.

In the conclusion, it's Gianini and Luzzati in person explaining the reasons that induced them to create those wonderful animations without words that are giving voice to chidls' poetics so well, not to infantilism beware!

Those animated stories, created between 1964 and 1973, are an essential part in the history of Italian Television and not only: they are extremely precious and poetic documents, produced by tow genial minds, that should never be forgotten. Today, thanks to Gallucci Publishing house, modern kids as well will have fun with the ironic irreverence of Luzzati's characters, they will be enchanted by the vivid colours and the splendid animations by Gianini and, least but not last, by Rossini's music.

To conclude this, by Gallucci, is a very important and very high quality operation.

For more information you can visit the Publisher's website:

Omaggio a Rossini: La gazza ladra-L'italiana in Algeri-Pulcinella. With a book by Emanuele Luzzati - Giulio Gianini, Gallucci Editore, December 2009.

* "the figurative fantasy, the humoristic inspiration, the sense of fairy-tale and the genial graphic solutions"