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Slovenia Shines as Guest of Honour at Bologna Children's Book Fair

The 61st Bologna Children's Book Fair commenced in Italy on Monday, welcoming Slovenia as the guest of honour. Running until April 11, the nation will seize this opportunity to spotlight its children's and youth literature through a captivating exhibition of illustrators and a series of engaging events.

The fair offers a unique and comprehensive opportunity to discover the creative and rich tradition of Slovenian children’s publishing. An international jury has selected the works of 79 illustrators from 31 countries, including Ana Maraž from Slovenia. The exhibition has traced the evolution of the world of children’s books over the decades, following their development and identifying their creative dynamics, from the tradition of illustrated stories to the arrival of the book as a predominantly visual medium of expression.

The fair is a meeting point for all those involved in the creation and publishing of children's books, primarily for the buying and selling of copyrights. The Comics Corner 2024 will be bigger, featuring publishers of comics from all over the world, and with the third edition of Spotlight on Africa the focus will be even more on African publishing.

Marko Rusjan, the State Secretary of the Slovenian Culture Ministry, expressed pride in Slovenia's diverse production of children's and youth literature during the fair's opening address. He emphasized the pivotal role of storytelling in human history and underscored the significance of images and pictures in understanding complex texts and fostering open, tolerant, and curious communities.

Slovenia's designation as the guest of honour at one of the world's most significant book fairs for children was secured in 2018 after years of diligent efforts. Originally slated for 2021, Slovenia's participation was rescheduled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Curated by the Slovenian Book Agency, the programme showcases 44 illustrators in the main exhibition, with 12 highlighted as exceptional talents. Additionally, 15 illustrators are featured in an accompanying catalogue titled "And Then What Happens?"

  • Slovenian pavillion at the Gologna Book Fair.

    Curated by the Slovenian Book Agency, the programme showcases 44 illustrators in the main exhibition, with 12 highlighted as exceptional talents. Photo: Jernej Čampelj

According to Katja Stergar, the director of the Slovenian Book Agency, the exhibition spotlights illustrators to align with the fair's focus. The diverse selection includes both established and emerging artists, showcasing the stylistic richness of Slovenian illustration over the past five years.

The exhibition is housed in a pavilion designed by architects Sara Badovinac and Sara Škarica, resembling a two-storey canopy inspired by Medieval libraries. In addition to the fair, Slovenia's programme encompasses film screenings and various public events across the city.

Renowned Slovenian authors such as Jana Bauer, Peter Škerl, and Anja Štefan will be present at the fair, showcasing their works translated into Italian. The Slovenian logo, ŠČŽ, symbolizes unique features of the Slovenian language.

Stergar emphasized that one of the primary objectives of Slovenia's guest appearance is to enhance the global reputation and visibility of Slovenian children's and youth literature. Slovenia's presence at the Bologna fair traces back to 1964, reflecting its enduring commitment to promoting literature on the international stage.

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Author: Polona Prešeren; source: STA

Date: 8. April 2024

Time to read: 3 min