Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cover-ing the Bologna Book Fair with Sarah Blake Johnson

Bologna Book Fair 2010 - Illustrator's Wall
We are very lucky this week to have Sarah Blake Johnson sharing some cover-related comments about and favorites from her visit to the recent Bologna Book Fair.  Sarah lives in Germany and provides the perspective of a writer who appreciates and is exposed to more international books for kids (that is, more than we normally get in the U.S., sadly for us.) She guest hosted for THROUGH THE TOLLBOOTH while she was at the fair (be sure to read all five posts, from March 22-26th - I'm only linking to one), and click here for a link to Sarah's own blog. 

Grazie, Sarah - and extra thanks for all the links to author and illustrator web pages!

Covers are what caught my attention as I walked through the several exhibition halls at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy last month. I could tell with a glance what types of books a publisher focuses on--just from the covers. Often covers are made into posters or wall hangings and are used to bring attention to that book and the publishers’ booths. Some booths go for the glitter effect. Others for “comic” style art. Some use bright colors and others use deep and dark hues. Korean publishers had such wonderful displays and incredible books that I forgot to take photos.
Some booths I didn’t really look at--just because the covers didn’t appeal to me. Other booths--either all the books covers on their shelves, or sometimes, just one individual cover, drew me closer to gaze at their books.
Here are a few of my favorite international covers:
Il Mondo di Oliva  (Italy) (2653)
Author: Federica Campi
Illustrator: Simona  Mulazzani
Publisher: Edizioni Corsare

Cirkusflickan (Sweden)  (2757)
Publisher--Rabën & Sjögren

Lal’s Water Pail (Lebanon)   (2765)
Author: Nabiha Mahidali
Illustrator: Fadi Adila
(This publisher received the Bologna Ragazzi Opera Prima Honorable Mention award this year for another title.)

Hansel and Gretel  (Germany)
(She received the HansChristian Anderson Medal in 1992.)

Bichos Diversos en Versos (Portugal) 
Author: Antónia Manuel Couto Viana 
Lisboa--Texto Editores

Sarah Blake Johnson


  1. Thanks for having me here at Jacket Knack.

    Looking at these covers again makes me wish I had been able to buy copies of these books and also wish that I could spend time reading (or in some cases looking) through all the pages.


  2. I love the covers! My favorite is the Swedish one.

  3. I've been trying to pick my favorite, too - love the crazy German one, but as a kid I might have liked the Portuguese one best (those nested mouths!)

  4. Julie,
    The nested mouths! Yes. Talk about a hook. I want to read that story and see what happens. But they are poems, so the cover might be what happens in just one poem. I want to hunt down that book.

    I bet I can find the German book at a bookstore here in Frankfurt. I'll look for it the next time I'm in one.