This visit to the London Book fair seems to be turning into an annual pilgrimage for me. For those who have never been to it, this is the biggest event for publishers in the UK.; it is also a showcase for publishers from around the world and one of the most prestigious events of its kind. It takes place over 3 days in April and there are a huge range of workshops, launches, showcases and parties (if you are lucky enough to be invited). The main reason for the fair is to promote publishers, sell rights to other countries and buy rights from overseas concerns. Teachers and Librarians are not the central audience but there is still plenty for them to enjoy and learn from.
This year the focus was on the Baltic states, so there were sessions about publishing in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia as well as the broader issue about translation. There was also a wonderful exhibition of illustration from these states, which showed the sophistication and skill that is being used in their picture books and even books for an older audience.
There were so many sessions that I wanted to attend, so I stayed in London and visited the fair on two days. On the Tuesday, the day started off with a discussion panel comprised of
“Speaker Sarah Crossan, Author Peter Kalu, Author Emily Davidson, Young Ambassador, Inclusive Minds Heather Lacey, Ambassador for Inclusion, Inclusive Minds Alexandra Strick, Co-Founder, Inclusive Minds Nikki Marsh, Committee Member, IBBY UK” who were talking about “MInd the Gap: celebrating authentic inclusion” There was an additional member of the panel, but I did not catch her name unfortunately. This was a fascinating discussion about the way disability in particular is represented in children’s and YA fiction and it really made the audience think about what is acceptable as both a writer and as an audience. In the afternoon I sat in on the first part of a long session about Illustration in which art directors and designers shared their insights into becoming a published illustrator. As someone who is not good at art this was of great interest and helped with understanding the broader picture (sorry about the pun).
On Wednesday I had arranged to meet up with a couple of friends during the day, but I started off by having a wander around the Children’s hub and also the larger stands on the ground floor which had children’s elements; these included Bloomsbury, with some amazing pictures from Chris Riddell, Hachette, Penguin/Random House and Scholastic.
At lunchtime I went to the launch of a new book at the Firefly stand; this is a really great Welsh publisher which has produced some fantastic books. The one we were celebrating at the Fair was called “Dog Town” by Luize Pastore, a young writer from Latvia. I was also able to meet up with the lovely Tricia Adams and the author Saviour Pirotta for a good chat. Also there were Megan Farr from Firefly and authors Miriam Halamny and Eloise Williams.
The highlight of the afternoon was the publishers presentations, where about 13 publicists tried to woo us with their up and coming big titles. I must admit that I came away with several pages of titles that I want to read. There were several titles from Michael Morpurgo, a new book from Jacqueline Wilson and follow ups from Cressida Cowell Kieran Larwood, P G Bell and Philip Reeve among many. I am particularly looking forward to a new book from Emma Carroll, Patrick Ness and the team of Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve. It looks as if we are in for a bumper crop of great titles with a wide range of themes ranging from WWI (to commemorate the end of the conflict), Christmas, fantasy, witches and science fiction. Definitely something for everyone.
By the time I got home at about midnight I was feeling exhausted and yet very happy with the events I had attended, the friends I had met and the book suggestions I had received. All being well I will be going back next year.