|Pam Dix from the IBBY committee UK with the President of IBBY Korea, Su-Jung Kim and writer Sang-Hee Lee.|
The most striking children’s book stand this year goes to Egmont. Not only did they have the best sweets in their jars and a balloon-floating Pooh bear... but alongside an earnest table discussion, I spotted a pram! So authors with babies do manage to get appointments!
Some of the larger publishing house stands with their 'gate-keepers', protect their editors and rights people as well as the books from anyone who might want to browse a book. A few get around this this with digital posters of new books on their hoarding. Daughters of Time, the History Girls anthology showed up well on one of these massive digital screens. But there are others, where one is hard pressed to know they actually publish a thing called a book.
The most thought-provoking stand was Book Aid International, where I met Judith Henderson, the project manager. It was a shack built of bits of wood with tin-plate, a hand-painted library sign, empty shelves and a single locked cupboard showing how books are so precious and few in Africa, that they are literally locked up. Figuratively locked away too as so few people have access to books in Africa. Book Aid works in partnership with libraries in Africa providing new books and resources and training. They were the LBF's Charity of the Year and to mark their 60th anniversary they plan 60 new child friendly library spaces. The ABBA blog isn’t about fund-raising but if you are interested in donating visit: www.bookaid.org/LBF.
Korea was the guest country of this year’s Fair and the Korea IBBY stand had a magnificent display of Award Winning Korean picture books. What struck me is they often dealt with children with difficulties and disabilities but because many were wordless, could easily be enjoyed not just by Korean children but children across all cultures. So here we are... an IBBY UK and KIBBY gathering on the last day of the Fair.
Here are four picture books with Korean artwork to enjoy:
The images in Last Night by Hyewon Yum which won the 2009 Bologna Raggazi Award, are full of playfulness and beautifully rendered in textured print with bold shapes and a striking way of showing light and shadow. It's a wordless picture book that tells of a grumpy child going out at night with her bedtime bear who has been transformed.
Readers follow the blind man as he goes fishing with his dog. He is mending his nets when a seagull snatches a line out of his hands and the dog, chasing the seagull, suddenly morphs into the seagull. The dog-seagull returns the line to the old man. In the meantime the old man is reeling in a big white fish. The white fish swims off with the newly returned line and the old man, turning into a black fish, pursues it. The dog-seagull follows him under the sea, and turns into a large boulder when a shark threatens to gobble up the black fish. Then the boulder turns into the old man, and the black fish turns into the dog. Coming back to the surface, the old man and the dog go home with the big fish in their basket. The story finishes with the line, “Tomorrow they will repeat their life of today.”
A runs across every page of the book suggesting that the old man, even though blind and isolated, is not abandoned by the world but is always connected to something – his dog, seagulls, fish, and by extension to nature itself. Powerful and imaginative.
Wave by Suzy Lee published in 2009 made the IBBY Silent books Lampedusa Project Honour List. A little girl visits the beach and overcomes her fear of the ocean. No words, just the sky and the sea, the seagulls and a girl – very fluid and immediate – done in only two colours. One can almost hear the waves and seagulls squawking and smell the sea. Simple and wonderful.
Zeraffa Giraffa illustrated by Jane Ray, published by Frances Lincoln, was chosen as Book of the Week by Nicolette Jones in the Sunday Times Culture on 20th April and given a 5 star review in Books for Keeps.
My 10 Best Giraffe Books has just gone online in The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/2014/may/01/top-10-giraffes-in-children-books-dianne-hofmeyr