The Bologna Children’s Book Fair has revealed its online programme for June, which will feature more than 60 conferences, presentations, training courses and workshops.
Last month the fair announced it had cancelled this year's physical events and will be digital-only owing to the coronavirus pandemic. This year’s digital fair will run from 14th–17th June, preceded by a week of gateway events from 7th June, and will be the first in an official partnership with AIE, the Italian publishers association.
Sessions will tackle education and accessibility, as well as sustainability, diversity and digital developments in the industry. Highlights include a 24-hour portfolio review marathon and a virtual art gallery, featuring an exhibition of work by international illustrators whose work connects young readers with the life and art of Dante to mark the 700th anniversary of the poet's death.
There will also be a flagship one-day conference for BolognaBookPlus, organised by former LBF director Jacks Thomas and run in partnership with the AIE and the International Publishers Association (IPA), to debate the post-pandemic future.
Thomas said: "The online programme for the inaugural BolognaBookPlus is designed to give voice to the wonderfully resilient, creative and innovative book industry across the globe. One day, which we all fervently hope will be soon, we can reflect upon this time as a game-changing reset for our industry, which, as ever, so pertinently reflects the wider world. As countries from A-Z and the broad industry ecosystem are all represented, we hope to take away important lessons learned and optimism for the next act, and I am delighted that so many fantastic people are contributing their experience and wisdom to the ongoing debate."
BolognaBookPlus is also introducing an author ambassador programme at this year's fair, to celebrate authors that bridge the worlds of adult and children's publishing. This year's ambassador is Victoria Hislop (right), who is publishing her first children's novel, Maria's Island (Walker Books) in June.
Hislop said she was "thrilled", adding: "Crossing publishing worlds is an exciting step; I have always been overwhelmed by the generosity of my readers of The Island and beyond. Maria’s Island tackles some difficult themes, but I believe young readers are both curious and open-hearted and I hope they enjoy my first endeavour for them."
The Global Rights Exchange will also return, and is open to all BCBF exhibitors and visitors from 2019 to 2021 inclusive. It remains free to all eligible users until the end of 2021, and includes a BLTF section for exhibitors and visitors of the Bologna Licensing Trade Fair.
BCBF director Elena Pasoli said: “The magic of BCBF is its versatility, the incredible variety of content it offers, the relentless quest for the new, the different voices and cultures that meet on the Bologna stage. Our commitment in preparing the second online edition was precisely this: to reflect as much as possible the true essence of BCBF, offering at the same time an effective marketplace and a comprehensive programme of events, awards and meetings.
“As, over the past pandemic year, we have organised many successful online events through our new Open-Up: The BCBF Skill Box, we felt equal to the task of moving BCBF 2021 online once again. We have learned that the right digital activity, combined with the trade fair in person, can have not only a brilliant present but an incredible future in terms of continuous dialogue with the children's book and content community which is so important to us.”
The fair has also announced it will run from 21st–24th March next year. Pasoli said: “After the tumultuous past two years it is wonderful to return to our spring dateline and Jacks and I look forward to welcoming everyone to Bologna in 2022.”