Bologna Children’s Book Fair Names Its 2024 Ragazzi Award Winners

The Bologna Ragazzi Award program—now in its 57th edition – is considered the major competition at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair’s Illustrators Exhibition. Bologna is now three things: (a) the main children’s book fair led by Elena Pasoli; (b) a generalist (non-children’s) conference program called Bologna Book Plus led by Jacks Thomas; and (c) the Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Kids.

In a sense, some of the long-running illustration award programs and their exhibitions are beginning to take on a new function, serving as anchors in this now multi-part international trade show. The Bologna Ragazzi Awards are a perfect example of this, arriving this year in their 61st iteration with perhaps the best-recognized name in a host of contests that ring the BolognaFiere each year with vast exhibitions of children’s book illustration.

Illustrators whose work carries a notice of a Ragazzi Award speak of greater sales and notoriety for their work, which becomes known through the exhibition elements of this sprawling show’s layout.

There are five main categories used in the Ragazzi Awards:

Opera Prima (debut works)
Comics (with sub-categories of Early Reader and Middle Grade)
Toddler (appropriately for its name, this is the newest, the youngest of the permanent categories)

Each year, a special sixth category is added and this year that’s “The Sea”—Il Mare. This special thematic prompt was chosen in part because Bologna Children’s Book Fair is a partner in the preparations for the 39th International IBBY Congress, which is to be held in the eye-popping northeastern Italian seaport Trieste, the capital of the Fruili-Venezia Guilian autonomous region flanked by Slovenia on one side and Croatia on the other.

Additionally, if jurors feel that they’ve spotted particularly innovative work, they’re allowed to call in a “New Horizons” category in addition to the core five groupings. As organizers of the fair and the Ragazzi Awards note, young readers find in the sea themes not only of nature and conservation but of travel, escape, vast distances, and playful surf. And, as you can see in the book-cover art here, the first category’s winner—Kintsugi from the publisher Libros del Zorro Rojo in Spain, with text and those illustrations of such elegant squids and jellyfish by Issa Watanabe, wastes no time whatever in diving right into the oceanic prompt of “The Sea.”

Bologna Ragazzi Award 2024 Winners

  • Fiction: Kintsugi (Issa Watanabe) – Libros del Zorro Rojo – Spain
  • Nonfiction: Myko (Jiri Dvorak/Daniela Olejnikova) – Baobab – Czech Republic
  • Opera Prima/Debut: Ko darit, ja esi kails pilseta (Aleksandra Runde) – Janis Roze Publishers – Latvia
  • New Horizons: See you in Memories (Pen So) – Pen So Artlab – Hong Kong
  • Comics/ Early Reader: Comment naissent les arbres (Charles Berberian) – La Martiniere – France
  • Comics/Middle Grade: Les Pissenlits (Nina Six) – Editions Sarbacane – France
  • Comics/Young Adult: Il racconto della roccia (BeneDi) – Coconino Press – Italy
  • Toddler: Dia de Lua (Renato Moriconi) – Jujuba Editora – Brazil
  • The Sea (Special category for 2024): Giu’ nel blu (Gianumberto Accinelli/Giulia Zaffaroni) – Nomos Edizioni – Italy
  • Extraordinary Award: Bambini Nascosti (Franco Matticchio) – Vanvere edizioni – Italy

For additional reading: Bologna-names-award-winners

Photo: Publishing Perspectives/Porter Anderson