Saturday, 2 April 2016


Lili: Red Hot Hair – Wen Dee Tan 
Following hot on each other heels two of the biggest book fairs dedicated solely to children’s books are about to ignite the World of Reading. Flights are full, books are packed, dummies designed, illustrations couriered, appointments scheduled, comfy shoes packed and for those lucky enough to be invited to a few soirees, a silky shirt or twinkly top or two. 

When the Bologna Book Fair opens its doors officially on the 4th April, it will have been established as the leading children’s Book Fair for more than 50 years. On the other hand the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF) in the United Arab Emirates, which begins on 20th April, only started 8 years ago, but with it’s 11 days of discovery, creativity and excitement, is intent on creating a second Bologna in the Middle East.

I’m lucky enough to be going to both – to Bologna under my own steam to ease two new babies into the world – a picture book, The Glassmaker’s Daughter, illustrated by Jane Ray coming out with Frances Lincoln in 2017 and a second picture book, My Daddy’s a Silly Monkey, illustrated by Carol Thompson coming out with the brand new Otter-Barry Books, also in 2017.

At Bologna I will be browsing and soaking up the sheer energy of everything new in publishing for 3 days, (sipping a few glasses of prosecco along the way)

Whereas at Sharjah Children's Reading Festival,  IBBY UK have been invited as Guests of Honour by UAE IBBY and have included Alexis Deacon as their guest illustrator and me as their guest writer, Alexis and I will be working at full tilt in schools and on panels with more than a little back-up from Sophie Hallam of IBBY UK and Julia Eccleshare.

So this week sees me suddenly panicking. Pasting up dummies, searching through my more than 19, 950 images (I'm determined to keep it under 20, 000) in iPhoto for high resolution pics, running to the printers for business cards and generally creating more chaos than needed when I wake in the night and uninvited decide I can use my illustrator’s images to make endpapers for a Bologna dummy. What astounding cheek! But perhaps collaboration at it’s fullest.

The best part of being at a Children’s Book Fair is not just the pleasure of meeting like-minded people and feeling the buzz but having the books and illustrations take centre stage. At Bologna this year 3191 illustrators submitted work from 61 countries. Being selected offers an illustrator huge visibility as after the Fair, the exhibition tours to Japan, China and the United States. This year will see solo exhibitions of British illustrators Laura Carlin, for winning the Cover Illustration Award for this year’s Exhibition and Miasie Shearring for winning the Fundación SM International Award for Illustration last year.

At Sharjah, one of seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates and recently named the Islamic Culture Capital, there is also an annual Illustration Award. Appropriately last year’s winner was Wen Dee Tan from Malaysia for Lili: Red Hot Hair. 

Let the festivities begin! Lead on! IGNITE THE WORLD OF READING!


Sue Purkiss said...

Lovely pictures! Hope you'll tell us all about both fairs, Di - have a lovely time!

Mia Hayson said...

What a great opportunity! Hope you have a great time :)

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Thank you! Should be fun! In a way I know writers sometimes feel redundant being there but without us... there's be no Fair!