20 May 2021

Bologna Children’s Book Fair presents its June online programme and announces the dates for the 2022 edition

The first edition of BolognaBookPlus The International Illustration Exhibitions
The first global debate on what our industry will look like after the pandemic The free online Rights Trading platform
Poetry for children
The 24-hour marathon for illustrators A completely virtual events offering

Bologna Children’s Book Fair – BCBF, the brand new BolognaBookPlusBBPlus, and Bologna Licensing Trade Fair – BLTF are gearing up for the 2021 online edition. Scheduled from 14 to 17 June, but with introductory events during the countdown week, the major international children’s publishing trade show has a programme that will – as always – engage with the large heterogeneous children’s publishing community – and also with an even broader audience thanks to the opportunities provided by digital media.

Bologna Children’s Book Fair has successfully transposed its traditional BCBF format into digital form. Included are all the thematic areas that for almost 60 years have made the Bologna Fair the only world event entirely dedicated to the full gamut of children’s publishing. Our programme also includes numerous events coming within the framework of Aldus Up – European Book Fairs Network, designed to internationalise the publishing sector, and which in turn is part of the Creative Europe programme co-financed by EU.

The BCBF Galleries platform boast no less than 10 international illustration exhibitions ranging from the 55th Illustrators Exhibition, the exhibition on how Dante is portrayed in books for children and young adults through to the latest in the Italian Excellence series. Then there’s the 24 Hours Portfolio Review Marathon, a non-stop round-the-clock series of back-to-back meetings involving the illustration community all around the world. Poetry, the BolognaRagazzi Award’s special section, will be the subject of an international conference that will round off the digital fair week. Rights trading of comics and graphic novels is another feature, as is the new BolognaRagazzi CrossMedia Award. The BCBF Global Rights Exchange, the online international copyright trading and content licensing platform, has been thoroughly revamped. There will be three meetings curated by the BCBF-organized China Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair (CCBF) looking at China’s publishing market trends. The webinar organised by AIE – Italian Publishers’ Association will present preliminary results of the AIE survey on cultural consumption in the 0-14 age group. An Events Programme directly organised by BCBF exhibitors will also be hosted on the fair’s website. Last but not least, the entirely new BolognaBookPlus has a programme catering for the whole publishing sector, not just children’s publishing.

But BolognaFiere is already looking ahead to 2022. The dates of the 59th Bologna Children’s Book Fair – scheduled as a “live” in-person show – have been set for 21 to 24 March 2022. The Guest of Honour Country will be Sharjah, as had been planned for the 2020 edition. As Elena Pasoli, BCBF Exhibition Manager, said: “The magic of BCBF is its versatility, the incredible variety of content on offer, the continuous search for novelty, the different – only apparently divergent – voices and cultures that all come together on the Bologna stage. Our commitment in preparing the second online edition has been exactly this: to reflect as far as possible the true essence of BCBF, offering both a streamline marketplace and an all-inclusive programme of events, awards and meetings. I’m proud to confirm that we’re well prepared following the many successful online initiatives of our new Open Up – The BCBF Skill Box activity area: the series of live international meetings, still available on-demand. In fact, the programme has shown how digital activities together with an in-person event not only guarantee a brilliant current edition but also a great future as we continue the dialogue with the children’s publishing community and develop broader public interest. We are also proud to report that this year we have reached well beyond BCBF’s digital programming to create a completely new event – BolognaBook Plus – which embraces the whole publishing sector. This year, there will be many BolognaBookPlus online events, and next year the programme will extend to include an exhibition section”.

BolognaBookPlus is BolognaFiere’s new initiative, created with the aim of expanding BCBF’s reach to include professional operators from the whole global publishing industry.
This year, BBPlus’s impressive online programme – created in partnership with AIE – The Italian Publishers’ Association – offers a series of valuable meetings and great branding and visibility opportunities. Developed in partnership with IPA – International Publishers Association within the framework of Aldus Up, Forging Forward will be a major opportunity to meet with international sector experts to consider the future of global publishing. A course on children’s book copyright trading will provide a basic understanding of copyright and the key features of the rights market. There will be a meeting on self-publishing in Italy that will also take in other international experiences. The first annual forum on literary translation – again within the framework of Aldus Up – targets general publishers with a translation slam session. There will be an event and exhibition on book jackets in the digital age, a debate on the global influence of Dante’s works and his literary contemporaries at international level, and the Lia Foundation webinar on accessibility.

Commenting on the programme, BBPlus Guest Director Jacks Thomas said: “The online programme for the inaugural BolognaBookPlus is designed to give voice to the wonderfully resilient, creative and innovative book industry across the globe. One day – which we all fervently hope will be soon – we can reflect upon this time as a game-changing reset for our industry, which, as ever, so pertinently reflects the wider world. As countries from A-Z and the broad industry eco- system are all represented, we hope to take away important lessons learned and optimism for the next act, and I am delighted that so many fantastic people are contributing their experience and wisdom to the ongoing debate”.

The BCBF Global Rights Exchange – GRE, the online platform dedicated exclusively to international copyright trading and content licensing – created in partnership with PubMatch within the framework of Aldus Up – European Book Fairs Network, a project co-funded by the European Union as part of the Creative Europe programme – has been completely overhauled in recent months. New functions make it an even more useful tool offering the full gamut of services for children’s publishing all year round. The platform is reserved for exhibitors registered for the 2019, 2020 and 2021 BCBF and is offered free of charge until 31 December 2021. It is also open to professional visitors – publishers, agents, scouts, developers, licensees, licensors, audio and TV producers – who will be able to
contact Exhibitors through new functions like chat-with-translation, and instant video meetings.
As of this year, the GRE also has a new BLTF licensing section of properties in the children and young people sector, again accessible to BCBF Bologna Licensing Trade Fair Exhibitors and visitors.

Following its debut in 2020, the portfolio marathon returns on Saturday 12 June, bringing together the global illustration community in a 24-hour-long series of back-to-back review interviews taking us round the globe. Part of the Aldus Up programme, the Marathon will see 24 publishers and international agents from New Zealand to Mexico, Italy to China, and France to Korea – link in via videoconference to evaluate the portfolios of 240 illustrators and give their valuable advice. Held in the run-up to the Fair, the marathon brilliantly sums up the international spirit of community and cooperation that makes BCBF unique.

The 24H MARATHON will take place entirely online in video-chat from 00.01 a.m. on 12 June – Italian time – through to 11.59 p.m. on the same day. Each participant will show their portfolio in video-chat to one of the marathon reviewers during a total of 240 portfolio reviews. The reviewers will include: Julia Marshall (Geckopress, Australia), K.T. Hao (GREENPRESS, Taiwan), Jin Xiaojing – (Tal Education Group, China), Sahar Tarhandeh (TUTI Books, Iran), Sigita Pūkienė (Aukso žuvys, Lithuania), Arianna Squilloni (A buen Paso, Spain), Dianna Chamma (Kalimat, United Arab Emirates),Maciej Byliniak (Wydawnictwo Dwie Siostry, Poland), Lilly Gottwald (Nowbrow, United Kingdom), Arthorn Techatada (Elite Creative Literary Agency, Thailand), Pietro Corraini (Corraini Edizioni, Italy), Mariagrazia Mazzitelli (Salani, Italy), Ernesto Rodrìguez Abad (Diego Pun Ediciones, Spain), Dolores Prades (Emília, Brazil), Ana Pavez (Editorial Amanuta, Chile), Peggy Espinosa (Petra Ediciones, Mexico) – Allyn Johnston (Beach Lane Books, USA).

A longstanding feature of Bologna Children’s Book Fair, our international conferences this year cover five major subjects: the sale of comics and graphic novel copyright; children’s bookshops in the world (the 3rd annual forum); the cross-media world, in particular the extension of printed books to the screen; the translation of children and young-adult content; poetry for children, with a great closing digital event: a poetry slam session when poets from all over the world will read a poem, a thought, or a thank-you with a promise to meet again in Bologna in 2022.


One of BCBF’s highlights, the Illustrators Café’s virtual programme includes the most eagerly awaited events in illustration: the announcement of the winner of the 11th International Award for Illustration organised by the SM Foundation and BCBF; a conversation with Sarah Mazzetti, winner of the 2020 edition; a meeting with Albertine, winner of the H.C. Andersen Award; a talk by the Jury members of the Illustrators 2021 exhibition; and the presentation of the BCBF 2021’s visual identity with graphic designer Beppe Chia and Jean Mallard, the young illustrator who helped create this year’s visual identity.

The Authors Café offers an exciting mix of international and national meetings, such as book presentations and conversations with the finalist authors of the Premio Strega Ragazze e Ragazzi. This year, the Café will also look at international trends and the previous year’s best titles, a meeting with Marino Sinibaldi, journalist and president of the Centro per il Libro e la Lettura, as well as a focus on comics as an educational tool for schools.

The Translators Café will also be on our virtual stage with an international forum organised within the Aldus Up framework on the state of translation of children’s books, the announcement of the winners of the In Altre Parole prize (dedicated to translation from and into Arabic, in honour of Sharjah, Guest of Honour Country), a meeting on translating comics and another on translating Russian children’s literature.

The Illustrators Survival Corner is BCBF’s special space given over to illustration as a profession, designed especially for the many young artists who each year come to the fair armed with their portfolios looking for professional opportunities. A highly successful format, Survival Corners have been created also in Shanghai (at the China Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair, co-organised by BCBF) and Moscow (at the Moscow International Book Fair, as part of the professional programme on children’s publishing organised by BCBF). The Corner has also been included in the many activities of Open Up – The BCBF Skill Box, BCBF’s new digital section offering meetings and events throughout the year.
Developed in partnership with Mimaster Illustrazione and coming under Aldus Up, the network of European book fairs, the Survival Corner will once again be offering its 24H Online Portfolio Review Marathon and its “Ask Me Anything” meetings in which experts answer the questions of young illustrators as they start out on their professional careers.
The Corner has proved a stimulating place where illustrators can share their experience, further develop their skills and broaden their understanding of illustration as a profession by coming into contact with international experts.

The online programme features the fair’s major international awards. These include the BOP – Bologna Prize for the Best Publishers of the Year, organised by Bologna Children’s Book Fair and AIE – the Italian Publishers’ Association in partnership with IPA – The International Publishers Association; the BolognaRagazzi Award with the special 2021 category dedicated to Poetry, and the new BolognaRagazzi CrossMedia Award, an initiative organised as part of the Aldus Up programme. Then there’s the Premio Strega Ragazze e Ragazzi, that now has a new 8 – 10 category, the new prize for the best first book, and the prizes for young illustrators: the International Award for Illustration Bologna Children’s Book Fair – Fundación SM for artists under 35, and the ARS IN FABULA – Grant Award for those under 30. The translation competition In Altre Parole is this year dedicated to Arabic as a tribute to our Guest of Honour Country, Sharjah. Last but not least, the Poesio Award, created by Bologna Children’s Book Fair and the University of Bologna’s Children’s Literature Research Centre (CRLI), acknowledges the most innovative and original Children’s Literature degree thesis in Italian.

The BCBF Galleries platform, our virtual art gallery created last year for the first online BCBF edition, whose many illustration and illustrated-book exhibitions are accessible throughout the year, will host some ten exhibitions at this edition:
the 55th Illustrators Exhibition; a solo exhibition of the Swiss illustrator Albertine, winner of the H.C. Andersen 2020 award and author of the Illustrators Annual cover; an international illustration exhibition of artists who have made Dante accessible to children; Jackets Off! – an exhibition on book covers curated by BBPlus; the latest in the Italian Excellence series; the first three editions of The Children- Spectators; the exhibition on BCBF’s 2021 visual identity created by Jean Mallard under the guidance of Chialab; the solo exhibition of Sarah Mazzetti, winner of the tenth edition of the International Award for Illustration Bologna Children’s Book Fair – Fundación SM.

In 2021, the Bologna Licensing Trade Fair will also be back online with a series of new features for its trade public. First and foremost, there’s the launch of the Global Rights Licensing Exchange section on the BCBF platform entirely dedicated to property and brand licensing in the consumer product, publishing and audio-visual markets. The Exchange platform also features a free-of-charge online meeting capability for sector professionals. Then there’s the “Papers” section with reports and in-depth studies on topics like retail, fashion, and emerging trends in children’s content, a key them in these challenging times.


Bologna Children’s Book Fair Press Office
Lisa Oldani +39 349 4788358 – annalisaoldani@gmail.com
Claudia Tanzi +39 340 1098885 – ct.claudiatanzi@gmail.com

Communication and External Relations Manager BolognaFiere SpA
Isabella Bonvicini, tel. 051 282920 – cell. + 39 335 7995370

BolognaFiere SpA Press Office
Gregory Picco, tel. +39 051 282862 – cell. +39 3346012743