Exhibitions at 2024 BCBF

A preview

Bologna Children's Book Fair as a research and development lab for new trends in global illustration and publishing for children and young people: all exhibitions 2024.

With fifty-eight birthday candles to blow out this year, the Illustrators Exhibition is one of the Fair’s longest-running and most successful initiatives. Founded in 1967 as a showcase to reveal and promote the best of world illustration every year, the exhibition has accompanied the evolution of the world of children’s books over the decades, identifying and tracking its creative dynamics. A total of 3520 illustrators were put forward for the Illustrators Exhibition 2024 and 17,600 works were submitted from 81 countries and regions of the world. The jury for this edition is composed of Marco Ghidelli (founder of the publisher and graphic design studio RAUM Italic, Italy), Lee Ho-baek (founder of the publisher Jaimimage, author and illustrator, Korea), Xiaoyan Huang (founder of Macmillan Century, a joint venture of Macmillan Group in Beijing, and the independent publishing house Everafter Books, China) and Norway’s Øyvind Torseter (one of the best-known international award-winning authors and illustrators and winner of the BolognaRagazzi Award in 2008 with Detours). The jury settled on a selection of 78 sets of illustrations by the same number of artists, from 32 countries and regions of the world. The original works will be exhibited at the heart of the Fair and also online (through the BCBF Galleries portal on the BCBF website) from 8 to 11 April 2024. The illustrations will also be brought together in the Illustrators Annual, the catalogue distributed in specialist international bookshops and published by Corraini in Italian and English, by JBBY - Japanese Board on Books for Young People in Japan, and also in the respective languages in Korea and China, which are the first stages of the international tour that takes the Exhibition around cultural venues in the world’s great cities over a two-year period.

The cover illustration of the Illustrators Annual, the catalogue of the Illustrators Exhibition, is entrusted in alternate years to either the winner of the H.C. Andersen Award or the winner of the Grand Prix of the Bratislava Illustration Biennial. The task of illustrating the 2024 edition was assigned, therefore, to the Chilean artist Paloma Valdivia, winner of the Bratislava Award. Her art will also feature in a solo exhibition at the Fair that can also be viewed online on the BCBF Galleries portal. The exhibition will display original works from some of her most famous books, the original work for the cover of the Illustrators Annual 2024, as well as a selection of her works from published books, and some unpublished works from her solo exhibition as the winner of the Biennial of Illustration of Bratislava (BIB).

Now in its 13th edition, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair - Fundación SM International Award for Illustration was created with the intention of unearthing and supporting young illustration talents. The award is for illustrators under 35 that have been selected for the Illustrators Exhibition and the chosen winner will be tasked with creating an illustrated book, produced over the following year, to be published and launched on the world market by the Spanish publisher SM. The originals of the book’s illustrations will then be presented in a solo exhibition at the following edition of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and can be viewed online on the BCBF Galleries portal. For the 2024 edition, the exhibition is dedicated to the 2023 winner, Italian Andrea Antinori, who created the book Solo una noche. For the very first time, the award winner has chosen to create a silent book. The story depicts how when night falls the forest is transformed into a magical place: or are all those fantastic characters and beings just figments of the imagination of the main character, a hiker?

BCBF’s tribute to the refined artist, who worked closely with the Fair for over twenty years, a few months after his death. The exhibition presents over eighty significant works that illustrate his artistic journey from the very beginning: a walk that starts and ends with unpublished works that reveal new aspects of his eclectic art. Mauro Evangelista, three times winner of the Premio Andersen and winner of the Emanuele Luzzati Award for illustration, founder and director of the Ars in Fabula International School of Illustration and creator of the ARS IN FABULA - Grant Award in collaboration with Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

This year at Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the imaginary worlds of contemporary Slovenian illustrators are supporting and opposing each other, letting a new story emerge and visitors use their mental poetry to find their own sequence. The expert committee of the Slovenian Book Agency, in cooperation with the Slovenian Center of Illustration, presents the imaginative and stylistic variety of contemporary Slovenian illustrators at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair: the exhibition And then what happens? highlights the works of 12 award-winning original Slovenian authors working in the field of children’s and young adult book illustration, supplemented by the works of 32 authors of diverse creative profiles. Together with other selected works, they form a catalogue of 59 authors of contemporary Slovenian illustration. The title refers to a child’s curiosity, but it also asks us where we are taking our common future, how books and illustrations can contribute to optimism, and motivation for change.

Since its foundation, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair has consolidated its role in bringing together the best in books, stories, illustration and projects for children and young adults, becoming a venue that has been showcasing the very best the industry has to offer to a worldwide audience for more than half a century. BCBF’s long-term commitment has also helped it become a leading “exporter”: not only co-organiser of the China Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair (CCBF), but the creator of numerous initiatives aimed at raising public awareness of the beauty and magic of illustration for young readers. Among the many initiatives organised over the years is the exhibition series Italian Excellence, documenting the best of contemporary Italian illustration. This extraordinary experience, together with the mutual friendship established between the Bologna Fair and China, has inspired the development of a new exhibition series: Chinese Excellence in Children’s Illustration. Each year, a jury of international and Chinese experts will select the best Chinese illustrators to present to the international publishing community at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Each successive edition will thus contribute to building an overview of contemporary Chinese illustration, providing the world community with a deeper understanding of this country’s immense cultural heritage. The initiative was presented in November, on the occasion of CCBF, organised by BCBF/BolognaFiere, China South Publishing & MediaGroup and Sidee Cultural Communication. This first edition offers a selection made by a jury composed of: Anna Castagnoli (author and illustrator, Italy), Debbie Bibo (literary agent, USA-Italy), Loïc Boyer (graphic designer and research associate at the InTRu laboratory of the University of Tours, member of the editorial board of the Revue des livres pour enfants, France), Hai Fei (writer and publisher, former Vice President of the Publishers Association of China and President of IBBY China, China) and Wang Lijun (Curator of the China Picture Book Fair and the Zhang Leping Picture Book Award, China), Zhang Mingzhou (Executive Director of the Publishers Association of China, China), Yang Zhong (Ph. D., Associate Professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Director of the Department of Culture and Urbanism at the School of Urban Design and the Picture Book Creation Workshop, China). The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue published in English and Chinese and is scheduled to depart on a world tour. It will also be available to view online on the BCBF Galleries portal.

After the presentation in New York of the Italian Excellence exhibition, which represented a new chapter in the collaboration between BCBF and the Society of Illustrators, the Society will be presenting in Bologna The Original Art, the annual exhibition founded in 1980 by the painter, art director and artists’ representative Dilys Evans to present the illustrations of the year’s best children’s books published in the United States. Since 1990, the exhibition has had its home at the Society of Illustrators in New York, where the works are selected for exhibition by a jury of illustrators, art directors and children’s book publishers. In Bologna, a selection of 48 works from the 2023 edition of the exhibition will be shown for the first time, including works by this year's Lifetime Achievement Award Winners William Joyce and Dahlov Ipcar. The exhibition will be held at the Illustrators Survival Corner, which will also be hosting activities (portfolio reviews, workshops, etc.) held by some of the illustrators whose works are on display. The exhibition will feature guided tours on each day of BCBF.

An immediate success with the public of trade fair professionals, the initiative has now become a regular fixture at every edition alongside the traditional showcase dedicated to the winning and mentioned books of the BolognaRagazzi Awards. The BRAW Amazing Bookshelf exhibition returns this year with a selection of 100 books nominated for the award on display in a special setting (as well as online on the BCBF Galleries portal) and available for visitors to browse, read and discover, stimulating ideas and inspiration as well as business opportunities.

The third appointment of the new collaboration with the United Nations and in collaboration with the International Publishers Association (IPA), Reading for a Healthy Planet: Inspiring Children’s Books to Help Achieve a Sustainable Future is an exhibition that expands on the debates about sustainability at the two panel discussions, flanking them with a selection of some of the best books on the subject, directly referencing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Art helps to make sense of reality, no matter how complicated it might be, and to think about the future. When Everything Matters is organised by Pictoric and International Book Arsenal Festival and inspired by the central theme of the 11th International Book Arsenal Festival, where it was exhibited for the first time during the 2023 edition, held in June in Kyiv. Curated by Oleg Gryshchenko, Anna Sarvira and Olena Staranchuk, the exhibition features new works by leading Ukrainian illustrators and graphic designers. The exhibition will also be available to view online on the BCBF Galleries portal.

As per tradition, there will also be a showcase for the finalists of the Silent Book Contest – the Gianni De Conno Award, this year in its 11th edition, dedicated to the great Italian illustrator and organised by Carthusia Edizioni in collaboration with Bologna Children’s Book Fair, Turin International Book Fair, the Municipality of Mulazzo and the Association Montereggio Paese dei Librai and the International Organisation of Book Towns (IOB). The finalists will be presented at a meeting at the Fair. Over the years, the international prize has helped drive and influence the exponential growth in publishing markets worldwide of silent books, narratives entrusted entirely to images that transcend borders and linguistic differences.

The creator of BCBF’s Visual Identity 2024, chosen from those selected for the Illustrators Exhibition 2023, will be the subject of an exhibition at the Service Centre of the Fair: BCBF Visual Identity workshop 2024 will show the design process through which Inês Oliveira, with the guidance of the Chialab design studio, came up with the visual identity for this year’s edition. The illustrations tell the story of BCBF 2024 through the light touch of the young Portuguese illustrator. An imaginative and colourful universe full of fantastic creatures offers a genuine invitation to “Immerse yourself in children’s content”. The exhibition, which is also online on the BCBF Galleries portal, will include a display of working materials such as sketches, research, mock-ups and drafts in chronological order, retracing the path of the production process.

Jackets Off  will be hosted in the BBPlus area: this year’s exhibition will examine the classic War and Peace, displaying covers from different countries and cultures and comparing different interpretations. The exhibition will also be available online on the BCBF Galleries portal.