Tuesday, March 30, 2010

From Bologna: the Ragazzi Awards

Every year I am very curious to see who won the Bologna Ragazzi Award, given to 
the best new books in terms of graphic and editorial design. The award categories are
FictionNon-FictionNew Horizons (for Asian, Arab, African and South American books),
 and for the first time this year Opera Prima, acknowledging the efforts of publishers 
promoting new talents. Publishers from all around the world submit their best
 productions, guaranteeing a very high quality of the candidates. Here are 
all the award winners and two of the mentions; on the official website 
you'll find the other mentions and the jury's motivations.

This year's Fiction Award was assigned to De Boomhut, a Dutch book by Ronald Tolman,
 illustrated by Marije Tolman. I really enjoyed reading the jury's motivation, 
so here it is in its entirety: "De Boomhut is a wise, clear, even poetic, example of how 
an established topos of the collective imagination may be revisited with a fresh eye 
to reveal a continued relevance to modern times. Marije Tolman and Ronald Tolman
 return to the “house in the trees”. Their house, however, is rich with subtle cultural
 references ranging from symbolist painting to the most refined 20th century graphic art.
 The book’s message is not declaimed, but is conveyed quietly. It pleads for an
 enlightened ecological stance in which an intense awareness that we are part of nature
 does not forego our need for elegance and intellectual enquiry."

Visit Marije Tolman's website to enjoy more of her delightful children's book illustrations,
 like the two above.

Non Fiction winner is the beautiful The Riverbank published by The Creative Company, 
in which Fabian Negrin's illustrations accompany the final paragraph of The origin 
of the species by Charles Darwin. Fabian is a very versatile and innovative 
Argentinian illustrator, who has published many interesting books here in Italy 
thanks to the pioneering work of our friends at Orecchio Acerbo.

The New Horizons Award went to Do!, with text by Gita Wolf and illustrations 
by Ramesh Hengadi & Shantaram Dhadpe. Another extraordinary production 
from our favorite Indian publisher, the luscious Tara Books. For more Tara goodness, 
go to our previous feature on Bhajiu Shyam, and to A Book By Its Cover's posts 

I was so pleased to find out that the Opera Prima Award has gone to Chronicle Books
There was an old lady who swallowed a flyby Jeremy Holmes (watch the delightful-
creepy preview animation here) Not only is the book fun, refined and experimental, 
but the prize also rewards one of my favorite American publishers. In fact, 
Chronicle books was the only exciting US company I saw at the fair this year. 
The whole Anglo-American publishing industry is not much present in Bologna, 
since they have their own very important book fairs, like London and Chicago. 
Mostly, only very large, corporate looking US companies make the trip here, 
one of them our own American publisher, Gareth Stevens. In that context, 
Chronicle's beautifully innovative offerings are a wonderful breath of fresh air. 
I already had a chance to appreciate this book, again through A Book By Its Cover
In fact, thanks to fellow design bloggers, for the first time this year 
I was already familiar with many of the best new titles on show!

Another beloved publisher, Shabaviz, won a New Horizons mention for the poetic 
Two Friends by Hoda Haddadi. Like always, I visited their colorful booth, but this time 
I was less shy than usual and chatted a bit with the beautiful and elegant lady pictured 
on the website. She is seriously fond of cats, and loved Sebastiano's postcards - I would
 have loved to ask her about more serious issues, but only ventured to enquire about their
 internet connection. Unfortunately, I got caught up with other things, and didn't make it
 back to buy some books. This is a shame, because they cost only five euros, and Bologna
 is my only chance to get these collectible copies, with english text pasted by hand on
 each printed page over the Iranian original. Luckily, Two Friends is one of the first
 Shavabiz volumes published in Italy (as Il bosco delle meraviglie), together with 
I misteriosi tatuaggi di mio papà by Neda Azimi, and I am definitely going to buy them both. 
For more Shabaviz beauties, visit animalarium's feature on Azimi's The Cat and the Stars,
 and also check the extensive digital collection at the International Children's Digital Library.

Finally, a peek at another Opera Prima Award winner: Cécile Boyer's onomatopeic 
Ouaf, miau, cui,cui by French publisher Albin MichelAnother great entry for 
the ongoing trend of typographic children's book experimentation!

Monday, March 29, 2010

You Morning Dove

have been listening to Joanna Newsom's magnificent latest triple album opus, 
Have one on me, and feel very grateful for such a poetic, soulful, 
magical soundtrack to the blossoming beauty of these days.

Soft as chalk

So, so long ago, and so far away 
When time was just a line 
That you fed me when you wanted to stay 
We'd talk as soft as chalk 
Till morning came, 
Pale as a pearl 
No time, no time 
Now I have got all the time in the world 

Say, honey did you belong to me? 
Tell me, honey, was your heart at rest 
When, darlin all the morning doves were howling out 
Their song of love, oh godawful lawlessness? 

Say honey, did you belong to me? 
Tell me, darlin, did I pass the test? 
I lay as still as death until the dawn 
Whereupon I rested from your godawful lawlessness. 

I roamed around the tidy grounds 
Of my dapple sanatorium 
Coat-less I sit, among the moles adrift 
And I dote upon my pinesap gum. 
And the light through the pines in brassy tines 
Lays over me, dim as rum 

Thick as molasses, and so time passes 
And so my heart, tomorrow comes 
And I see you leaning out back with the crickets 
Loyal heart marking the soon-ness, darkness tonight. 
Still the morning doves will summon us their song of love 
Never dulling lawlessness. Lawlessness! 

Well over and over we're up and down, around, 
Trying to sound out or guess the reasons. 
I sleep like a soldier without breath 
But there's no treason where there is only lawlessness. 

In the last week of the last year, I was aware. 
Took a blind shot across the creek at the black bear. 
When he roused me in the night 
And left me cowering with my light, calling out... 
Who is there? Who's there? Who IS there? 

Well I watched you sleep, repeating my prayers. 
You give love a little shove and it becomes... terror. 
And now I am calling in sadness, beyond anger and beyond fear 
Who is there? Who's there? And who IS there??? 

I glare and nod like the character, God, 
Bearing down upon our houses and lawns. 
I knew a little bit, and darling you were it, 
And, darling, now it is long gone. 
Sweetheart, you your clean bright start, 
Back there behind the hill and the dell. 
In the state line of twelve I'll be thinking on you, 
Yes I'll be thinking and be wishing you well. 
We land, I stand, but I wait for the sound of the bell. 
I have to catch a cab and my bags are at the carousel. 
And then, I'll just spend time alone, one lonely tale.... 

You morning dove!

Monday Matticchio - A horse with no name

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Safari - Le Farfalle

Marie-Blanche-Hennelle Fournier, photocollage page from The Madame B Album, 1870s

This morning by the river Arno I saw the season's first butterfly: 
small and pale yellow, visiting the hidden pleasures of a bright yellow flower.
Such a delightful and comforting encounter!

Poster for the Naturhistorisches Museum Bern by Claude Kuhn, 1990

Illustration by Daniel Chang

Butterfly print by E.A. Séguy, 1920s, thanks to Bibliodissey

Metamorphosis by Kayama Matazo, 1979

Poster by Augusto Giacometti, 1928

Paolo Garretto, cover of the Italian magazine Natura, 1932,
thanks to the ever surprising A Journey Round My Skull

Eiffel Tower by Peter Blake

poster by Lora Lamm for the Italian department store La Rinascente, 1960s,
thanks to vintage graphic design heaven thisisdisplay.org

Illustration from Grandmother Lucy goes for a picnic by Frank Francis, 1970,
thanks to flamenconut's Tasty Morsels

Illustration from Attic of the wind by Ati Forberg, 1966,
thanks to letslookupandsmile's Children's book illustration set

Borboleta by mariacininha

Papilonidae by Delphine Lebourgeois

Natural beauty

I am in love with Volgens de vogels (According to birds) by the young and very talented
 Dutch animator Linde Faas. Many thanks to Animation Blog for introducing me to her work.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

From Bologna: Philip Giordano

Teppete my cat

Ok, let's start with the prize winners. An international jury has assigned the newly created
International Award for Illustration, reserved to artists under 35, to Philip Giordano aka Pilipo
a young Italian artist living in Torino. I had recently discovered and appreciated Philip's work through 
his blog White Pepper Ice Cream and flickr stream. He has published three children's books with Zoolibri, 
including the lovely Chissadove and L'isola del mostro nero nero. Quoting the jury's motivation, 
he "moves masterfully between the cultural idioms of the past" and "appropriates the history of intense 
and provocative graphics as he searches for a valid and original artistic language." 
Congratulations Philip, and thanks for following the animalarium!

Devendra Banhart

Sketch for the project A4 god

letter G

detail from illustration

my grandfather



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