2 Seas Visits the Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2023

Bologna Children's Book Fair

2 Seas Visits the Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2023

By Chrysothemis Armefti — Article first published in March 2023

Discover Senior agent Chrysothemis Armefti’s first participation in the Bologna Children’s Book Fair!

Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF) is THE major event in children’s publishing and I was thrilled to represent 2 Seas Agency for the first time on the 60th anniversary of the fair.

Tribute to Italo Calvino 100 years after his birth

The fair, which took place from March 6 to March 9, had over 1,450 exhibitors from 90 countries and close to 30,000 visitors. Greece was this year’s guest of honor. The rights center hosted over 150 publishing professionals, agents, publishers, and scouts representing adult and children’s trade books. The “Ukraine Illustrated” exhibition presented a selection of works by Ukrainian artists in honor of the country’s bravery and resilience in the face of war.  This year also marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Italian writer Italo Calvino, celebrated with an illustrations exhibition organized by his Italian publisher, Mondadori. Further events included the Bologna prizes for the best Children’s Publishers and Illustrators. I was also very impressed with the section dedicated specifically to comics, which was a new event this year. 

Women’s Day with our Polish co-agent

I’d heard so much about Bologna, and that it is considered by many to be the “best” publishing fair. I can now confirm that it is an amazing experience. Happy publishers, positive vibes, a relaxed atmosphere, and cool meetings with editors, co-agents, and scouts browsing our books, admiring the illustrations, and simply smiling. Pitching children’s books is so different from pitching adult titles. I felt like people were turning into children right in front of my eyes, discovering voices they liked, messages and ideas they admired, and illustrations they loved. It felt like being in kindergarten again! During my 53 wonderful meetings, I learned about the various editorial lines (which are so subjective to each editor and country) and rediscovered new sides of people I already knew from the adult publishing world. 

With Beatrice Alemagna at her exhibition

2 Seas’ children’s books were featured in the Astra Books for Young Readers Spring 23 Rights List, and we were happy to represent bestselling MG and YA author Elisa S. Amore whose Demigods Academy series was preempted by Hachette Romans in France just before the BCBF. Our list also included Riad Sattouf’s bestselling graphic novels published by Allary Editions, the non-fiction series How Do We Know? published by Editions Sciences Humaines, children’s books and graphic novels by Les Arènes, graphic novels by Payot-Rivages, Jemma Hatt’s MG series represented on behalf of the Lorella Belli Literary Agency, and a selection of titles by Kleinworks Agency, Laura Ceccacci, and Villas-Boas & Moss Agency. It turned out to be a very successful fair:

  • Italian (Topipittori) and French (Ecole des Loisirs) deals for Pepper & Me by Beatrice Alemagna (who had an exhibition in Bologna that I attended, during which I was happy to meet her in person)
  • German deal for The Museum of Nothing by Steven Guarnaccia
  • Norwegian (Bonnier, preempt) and Dutch (pending) deals for Firefighters to the Rescue by R.W. Alley
  • Lots of interest and expecting offers from other countries…

Finestrella di Via Piella

Bologna was not all about work, it was also about discovering illustrators, authors, and artists, making new friendships, and attending parties in palazzos and museums. I enjoyed walking around the historical center with its arcades (portico), eating gelato, and savoring the famous tortellini from Bologna and other delicacies with old and new friends every night. I look forward to attending next year’s BCBF! 

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