Books From Bologna: Titles I’d Love to See in America (Part Two)
Yesterday I ran through a variety of different books seen at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair that I would adore seeing here in the States. Today? The rest of what piqued my interest. Hold onto your butts cause we have a whole slew of interesting titles at work here!
The way I figure it, kids devour comics at a prodigious rate. How to keep up with demand? Import ’em! We already do, of course, but let’s import MORE of ’em!
Diana Sottosopra by Kalina Muhova [Italian]
It took me a little while with this book to figure out if the title was Kalina Muhova or Diana Sottosopra (the finer aspects of this title were truly lost in translation]. I don’t know much about the book beyond what you’re seeing here, but I love the faces, the urgency, and the coloring.
Pas de Baiswer Pour Maman (d’apres l’oeuvre de Tomi Ungerer) by Mathieu Sapin [French]
While it’s only barely acknowledged here in the States, No Kiss For Mother is considered a seminal picture book by the one and only Tomi Ungerer in countries around the globe. Now imagine loving a picture book so much that you adapt it into its own graphic novel, in the style of the original artist. I’ve never seen anything quite like this before, and it opens up a whole world of possibilities.
Who’s Sock? by Sun Jun [Taiwan]
You know a book’s pretty good when it becomes a winner of the Bologna Ragazzi International Comics and Graphic Novels award. This is kind of an early reader with a limited color palette. The story follows a cat living in a large apartment complex. Someone’s sock has fallen to the ground floor and the cat is determined to find its owner. You get these gorgeous little glimpses of day-to-day life as it runs into a variety of different adventures. Love it!
Le Monde Des Animaux Perdus by Noemie Weber [France]
And while we’re on the topic, this book received a special mention in the aforementioned International Comics and Graphic Novels category. The text written by the jury says it’s akin to the work of Tove Jansson. “Her use of constrained by variable color pallets throughout employs the four color press with the sensitivity of a silkscreen printer.” The story itself concerns a girl who follows a flushed pet down a toilet and into another world.
Pour Toujours by Christian Demilly, ill. Vincent Mahe
A sweet wordless graphic novel that I actually spotted in a Nonfiction Children’s Books exhibit at the Bologna Library. As such, I believe it came out quite a while ago, but it’s such a sweet and moving story about how things in our life change as we get older, that I felt obligated to include it here.
Poemas Para Ler Com Palmas by Edimilson de Almeida Pereira, ill. Mauricio Negro [Brazil]
Just one book of poems to include here today, but I like it very much. You see, I happened to run across what I believe was a Brazilian stand and found a whole plethora of remarkable books for kids. After sifting through countless white European titles, it was almost a visceral relief to find these books. Some of them are below, but this one has stayed with me. Can you see why?
Ludwig Und Das Nashorn by Golden Cosmos and Noemi Schneider [German]
And here, my dears, is the only book on this list that I can actually guarantee will come to America. Unbeknownst to me at the time of taking these photos, NorthSouth Books had already decided to release “Ludwig and the Rhinoceros” in the States this fall. The story is based on a concept that Ludwig Wittgenstein once proposed and since I’m a sucker for philosophy in picture books, I was instantly hooked. Here’s the basis of the book as described by NorthSouth Books:
“Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein discussed the power and the limitations of language with his professor Bertrand Russell: how even if you don’t see something, it can still be there. These philosophical discussions are the basis for Noemi Schneider’s hilarious and thoughtful story. The Berlin duo GOLDEN COSMOS, who work with their characteristic screen printing style for international magazines, are now illustrating a picture book for the first time.”
Mag ik een tijger zijn? by Stefan Boonen and Federico Appel
Sometimes you pretty much get the concept of a book without knowing a word. In this book a nicely striped boy is bullied and decides to become a tiger to deal with his problems. Trouble is, tigers have their own problems to solve. I love artist Federico Appel’s crowd work and the action on these pages.
Ik ben een Eenhoorn by Yoeri Slegers
Remember when unicorn books were rarities and you could hardly find any for kids? I swear it was as recently as 10 years ago that they were hard to find. This book is, I believe, Dutch and involves what appears to be a llama with dreams. Dreams that seem to involve becoming a unicorn. Not everyone approves, but that doesn’t matter. I’m quite fond fo the colors and tones in this tale. Extra points to the horse doing its own unicorn make-up at the end.
Le Juste Milieu by Amina Hachimi Alaoui, ill. Francoise Chabot Lennon [Morocco]
I really fell down on the job finding great books from different African countries this year. Still, at least I found this little beauty. Just look at how beautifully that construction is rendered with the setting sunlight. Gorgeous.
Emilia and the Hat by Iris Argaman, ill. Aviel Basil
Hat tip (no pun intended) to Daniel Meyer for identifying this book written in Hebrew. See his comment at the end of the post for information on how to see more interior spreads.
Selou y Maya by Lara Meana, ill. Mana Pascuel de la Torre
An exceedingly cute book! It flips over entirely so that Selou’s story is on one side and Maya’s is on the other. There are lots of parallels between the two stories and similarities though, as you can see, they get quite imaginative.
Taraxacum by Andreza Felix, ill. Santiago Regisn [Brazil]
Gorgeous. Notice the range of different styles of illustration and the different scenes from Brazil. Of course, my brain is always most amused when it can see patterns. Not only does it get that with this last shot but the bedsheets even resemble topographical maps. Neat!
Mesma Nova Historia by Everson Bertucci, Mafuane Oliveira and Juao Vaz [Brazil?]
With its Meghan McCarthy-esque vibe (it’s all in the eyeballs) I was willing to think of this as just another perfectly nice book. Then I got to that shot of the grandmother hanggliding and that was it.I was hooked. She if she doesn’t hangglide right into your heart as well.
Il Grand Alveare by Giorgio Volpe and Elanor Burgyan
A goat playing Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream? With a fake donkey head on another animal? Say no more, say no more! I am here for this.
Good Night Giraffe by Chih-Hao Yen, ill. Nan Chun [Taiwan]
First, I don’t want to be distrated from the fact that the version of NYC here is absolutely adorable. First off, you’ve a double decker blue bus, which actually could conceivably exist as a tourist bus of some sort. But let’s also just stop for a moment to appreciate the idea that the speed limit in central Manhattan is now apparently 60 mph. And finally, the giraffe in this book is adorable. It goes on a series of adventures, always staying snazzy.
What’s It Like Growing Up? by Wu Yi-Ting [Taiwan]
The title is slightly self-explanatory, but I’ll quote you a bit from the publisher page as well:
“What happens when I grow up? Where will the smaller me go when I grow up? Will I become too big, too weird, or too different? Will I still be afraid about things? Every child’s most honest questions about growing up, explored in a panoply of beautiful, energetic illustrations”
How My Koro Became a Star: A Matariki Tale by Brianne Te Para, ill. Story Hemi-Morehouse [New Zealand]
I know we’ve already seen a LOT of picture books about kids bonding with their grandparents, but what’s another one? Particularly if it hails from New Zealand. In this book a boy’s grandfather passes and then he’s starts gathering the things he needs to properly celebrate his koro’s life. But will anyone help him?
The Eight Gifts of Te Wheke by Steph Matuku, ill. Laya Mutton-Rogers [New Zealand]
And another New Zealand title! This one verges on the edge of folklore, but could probably be read either way. If this story looks a little familiar, I had flashback to the movie Moana as well. Heck, I can hardly look at that second picture without the song “Shiny” popping into my head. I believe that this is the story of two sisters and how one must be clever to save the other when she is kidnapped by Te Wheke.
Kantiga: Vind die Perfekte Naam by Mabel Mnensa, ill. Chantelle en Burgen Thorne
Entranced by this cover, I discovered that this book is just as rip-roaring inside as it is outside.
Egalus by Marije Tolman [Dutch]
Look at this gorgeousness! So back in 2020 we did get to see a previous Marije Tolman book called Little Fox by Edward Van de Vendel, translated by David Colmer. I can only pray that some forward thinking publisher does the same thing in 2023/24.
Bestiare Transgenique by Julie Lannes
You know you’ve not selected the most crowd-pleasing book when your American librarian companion can hardly even look at it. I suppose I should put this on the Books That Will Never Come to America list due to the fact that it’s just doggone gross and weird, but that’s what I like about it! From what I can tell, it shows what the insides of an animal looks like when it’s been combined with something else. I just think it’s neat.
For the Adult Crowd
I adore this and I can’t read a word. Quick! Someone! Help me out!
Rainbow Apartment by Various [Taiwan]
And finally a hat tip to the fact that America’s not the only one out there producing LGBTQIA+ content. Just look at Taiwan!
And that, as they say, is all she wrote, folks.
I’d like to offer a great deal of thanks to the people in the Bologna Press Office that made my trip to the fair this year possible. Thanks too to all the kind folks who met me for dinner, meetings, and joined me for outings the last few days. It was a blast and I do appreciate it!
Filed under: Bologna Children's Book Fair
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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