Celebrating Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities at the Bologna Children's Book Fair
Every spring in Italy, in a vast indoor space that rivals the size of the Colosseum, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair brings together thousands of people with a passion for children’s publishing. This year’s fair, which begins on March 30, 2015 and runs for four action-packed days, is hosting writers, illustrators, publishers, booksellers, and librarians from over 70 countries, all eager to share their expertise and ideas with others.
Noisy, vibrant, and supercharged with lots of caffeinated enthusiasm -- there's nothing like the Bologna fair. It's where brand-new children’s books are shown off, important publishing deals are negotiated, innovative projects (think apps, digital storytelling and more) are launched, and the best of recently-published books for children are feted and recognized for their imaginative achievements.
At a press conference held today at the fair, Sharon Moynes and Leigh Turina of the Toronto Public Library spoke about a list of books that is currently receiving lots of buzz: The 2015 IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities, a biennial selection of 50 titles published around the world that are for and about children and young people with disabilities. IBBY is, of course, the acronym for "The International Board on Books for Young People."
Leigh is the lead librarian for The IBBY Collection of Books for Young People with Disabilities housed at the Toronto Public Library. She highlighted some of the titles that were recently selected for this prestigious list, including the following three books from Japan, the Netherlands and France. The catalogue of the 2015 Outstanding Books, which includes all the annotations shown below, is hot-off-the-press and available at the IBBY stand at the fair. The catalogue will also be digitized and available online in the near future.
Tenji tsuki sawaru ehon: Sawaru meiro [Touch picture book with Braille: Mazes by touch] designed by Junko Murayama. Shogakukan, Inc.
Eleven mazes showcase what can be accomplished with bright colours, eye-catching patterns and lines of Braille in this innovative and entertaining book. Children use their fingers to follow paths made of Braille lines while avoiding breaks in the lines and routes that lead to dead ends. Printed on durable cardstock, the mazes range from basic to complex; each maze has a clearly-marked start and finish. The mazes will appeal to a wide variety of puzzle players: children with vision loss who are already familiar with Braille; children who are just starting to use and read Braille; and children with low vision. Puzzle players without any vision loss will also benefit as they gain a practical hands-on understanding of what it is like to read Braille by running their fingers over the raised dots. A distinctive aspect of this book – it has been printed on one large sheet of cardstock – makes it possible for all the pages to be unfolded, laid out together and enjoyed by several children simultaneously.
Planet Willi [Willi’s planet] written and illustrated by Birte Müller. Klett Kinderbuch Verlag GmbH.
Author and illustrator Birte Müller draws on her own experiences as the mother of a son with Down syndrome in this picture book about a young boy with special needs who stands out from everyone else. Willi has strong reactions to the commonplace sights and situations he encounters; for the people around him, especially those who don’t know him, it is as if Willi comes from another planet. Bold, energetic illustrations done in a primitive, child-like style depict the world that Willi finds himself in: a busy place full of exciting, scary and confusing things. Willi’s family are always close by and clearly happy to be with him; at times, however, their faces reveal the inevitable confusion, dismay and fatigue that they feel while being in Willi’s company. Readers who look closely at the artwork will notice that Willi sometimes uses sign language to communicate with his family. These signs, along with others, appear on the book’s endpapers.
Une feuille, un arbre [A leaf, a tree] written and illustrated by Bruno Gibert. Albin Michel Jeunesse.
How does a leaf resemble a tree? In what ways are an atom and the solar system alike? Can a puddle ever appear to be a lake? This arresting book features 23 pairs of similar-looking objects and shows the connections that exist between the members of each pair. Changes in scale, perspective and context are used with great effectiveness to influence the way readers view the objects and the relationship between them. The bold graphic style of the artwork and the minimal text in the form of identifying labels make this book accessible to a wide range of readers including children who have developmental or learning disabilities. With its high contrast artwork, this book will be of interest to children with low vision; it is also suitable for sharing with a group.
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Interested in learning more about The IBBY Collection of Books for Young People with Disabilities? You can find out more by clicking on the IBBY logo below: