Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2012


Another week, another highlight. On Wednesday 21st March our project “Come On Kids!” took a day trip to the world famous Children’s Book Fair in Bologna. For exactly 50 years, the Children’s Book Fair in Bologna has been the showcase for the world’s best picture books and is the place to go for watching publishers, agents, media tycoons and toy manufacturers selling books and scouting for new talent.

We began our tour of the fair at “Topipittori”, a fine example of a publishing house specializing in books for children and young teenagers. This Italian publishing company was founded in 2004 by editors Giovanna Zoboli and Paolo Canton in Milano. In addition to publishing picture books they have recently started publishing graphic novels. For our project group Topipittori was an extremely helpful starting point as we were able to apply the obtained information whilst walking around the rest of fair.

As soon as we arrived at the Topipittori stand we had the fantastic opportunity of listening to a short speech given by Giovanna Zoboli who introduced her business and also gave valuable advice on how to present oneself as an illustrator to an editor of a publishing company.

Topipittori is highly passionate about books as they consider them being tools of knowledge, play, intellect as well as emotive and aesthetic education. Each and every one their books is elaborately curated by selected Italian and international illustrators, such as the internationally renowned Guido Scarabottolo, as well as by selected graphic designers and storytellers.

To Topipittori the publishing a picture book for children has to be in complete harmony, in the sense that the story has to be displayed in a manner that complements the illustration and the text. Giovanna Zoboli claimed that very often one finds beautifully illustrated children’s books which are sadly distracted by overshadowing text, thus it is vital that text and image are in reciprocal dependency.

Being an editor herself Mrs. Zoboli advised us to carefully study a publishing company’s catalogue so to understand if one’s drawing style fits in. She often witnesses that her publishing company receives portfolios containing drawings which are not part of their repertoire, for example Manga. Zoboli added that this can easily be avoided by doing thorough research on which values and techniques are of interest for different publishing houses before parting with your portfolio.

After exploring the stall and books of Topipittori we headed through the fair towards the stand of Corraini Publishing House, Mantova, where we had the pleasure of meeting Pietro Corraini for a second time. Pietro gave us our first insight into the world of illustrating and publishing children’s books at the very beginning of our course, therefore it was enlightening to pay him a visit at his own stall. Corraini’s stall was similarly busy to Topipittori, with their books games being equally diverse in regard to themes, illustrations, formats and languages.

Later on we were given the opportunity to discover the fair on our own. Although smaller publishing houses may have had few books, these certainly stood out in styles and quality, whereas major publishers seemed to lack the originality and harmony which Giovanna Zoboli valued so much. It was nice to see that some of these independent publishers were awarded for their books, for example “Waterlife” by Rambharos Jha, published by Tara Books, India, and “Wytwórnia” by Anna Czerwińska–Rydel and Marta Ignerska, published by Wytwornia, Poland.

Last but not least we would like to thank everybody at Topipittori and Corraini for taking the time to speak to us and answer our questions, especially Guido Scarabottolo for managing to get us tickets for the fair, thank you ever so much!

Corso 2011-2012, Propedeutico