May 15th marked the 130th anniversary of the birth of Jella Lepman, whose dedication and determination led to the creation of the International Youth Library in Munich and to the formation of IBBY itself. Lest we forget, her resolve to provide books to children in crisis was not borne out of a compulsion to indoctrinate them or re-educate them from one political ideology to another, but rather to offer a childhood to those young people who’d had theirs stolen.
These young people, and their families, endured forced silence, repression, and attempted negation of their own narratives.
This issue of BRIDGES begins with a recap of the Opening Act featuring Dion Graham, narrator of the audiobook version of Ashley Bryan’s Infinite Hope, set during his time in WWII, and Ruta Sepetys, author of The Fountains of Silence, set in Franco-era Spain.
In connection to silenced voices breaking free, the feature this month celebrates Catalan culture and the extraordinary efforts of the Institut Ramon Llull to preserve and promote the work of Catalan musicians, dancers, artists, authors, and illustrators living throughout the world to share with audiences everywhere.
Examples of activities for International Children’s Book Day show how Jella Lepman’s dream continues to be fostered on a local level; and USBBY invites ALA Conference attendees to Read Around the World with international children’s books publishers, (whose books have all appeared on recent OIB Lists.)
A list of opportunities for USBBY members to get involved - with IBBY publications and leadership, Regional Conference 2022 sessions, and a call to action to aid children at the U.S. border and in detention centers - rounds out this issue of BRIDGES.
Dear USBBY Members,
With the arrival of Spring, we look forward to renewed hope for better times. We are looking ahead to March 4-6, 2022 for the IBBY Regional Conference in Nashville, Tennessee at Vanderbilt University. The call for presentations and poster sessions is now on the front page of the USBBY website: www.usbby.org
USBBY will be co-sponsoring a session at ALA’s virtual June convention, June 23-29, 2021. We are grateful to Caroline Ward and Ellen Myrick for planning the session, “Read Around the World: Innovative International Publishing in the US.” Caroline Ward will moderate a panel discussion with four independent international publishers from Cassava Republic Press, Lantana Publishing, Tiny Owl, and Gecko Press. The program will be pre-recorded and available for “on demand” viewing throughout the conference for all registered participants.
Bookbird: A Journal of International Children’s Literature is seeking a new editor or editorial team to begin in January 2023. Information about the editorship and application can be found at: https://www.ibby.org/fileadmin/user_upload/IBBY_Bookbird_Search_for_Editors.pdf
USBBY is partnering with REFORMA and IBBY to provide books for asylum seeking children at the US border. We thank those of you who have already donated or sent books. Details regarding how you can help can be found at: https://www.usbby.org/news/children-in-crisis-at-the-us-border
If you have suggestions or ideas for USBBY or would like to volunteer for a committee, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wishing you all the best,
Evelyn “Evie” Freeman, Ph.D.
On March 6, 2021, registrants were treated to an immersive experience across eras and continents, discovering hope in dark places, and listening to narratives that had been lost, suppressed, repressed, or silenced for too long. This enthralling event served as an immediate and deep reminder of why USBBY/IBBY's work remains so pertinent and how having those narratives unlocked is indeed music to our ears. Access the entire event, featuring Dion Graham and Ruta Sepetys here.
Illustration in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands
by Doctor Cristina Correro Iglesias , Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
This article offers a brief, diachronic panorama of illustration in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands through the most iconic children’s picture books from the turn of the twentieth century to the present day. There is a long and rich tradition of children’s literature in Catalonia, but the first picture books were produced in the early twentieth century, thanks to progress in printing techniques. This new technology put pictures in the spotlight and consolidated the illustration profession.
Image 1: Little Red Riding Hood (La caperutxeta vermella), by Pere Torné Esquius
One of the first picture book artists was Pere Torné Esquius, who illustrated an innovative, full-colour, trilingual version of Little Red Riding Hood (La caperutxeta vermella) in 1919. The compositional freedom displayed by this artist was unprecedented. Abundant production of picture books in the first three decades of the twentieth century, from illustrators such as Joan Junceda and Lola Anglada, came to a halt due to the effects of the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) and the most oppressive years of the Francoist dictatorship. This period was characterised by a lack of creativity and little production. What was published came in a modern format, but its content was highly conservative. Mercè Llimona – whose watercolour illustrations are soft and expressive – is an exception from this era.
Image 2: Images from Tic-Tac [Tick Tock] and El meu àngel de la guarda [My Guardian Angel], by Mercè Llimona (1942)
Few picture books were produced until the sixties, when illustration activity began to pick up again, as the regime became somewhat more tolerant and a new generation of illustrators emerged (Fina Rifà, Pilarín Bayés and Enrica Casadamont, to name a few). Their work was closely linked to educational reform movements. In the period spanning the Spanish transition to democracy and the eighties, picture book production quickly began to recover, and many institutions dealing with children’s books were created, such as IBBY in 1984. What is more, a new generation of artists – including Joma, Montse Ginesta, Roser Capdevila and Maria Rius – worked alongside their predecessors. Carme Solé Vendrell is one of the most productive, versatile illustrators from this time. Her picture books contain a significant streak of social activism and cover controversial issues.
Image 3: La croada dels nens [The Children’s Crusade] and Magenta, by Carme Solé Vendrell (2003)
As the new millennium arrived, picture books became the omnipresent genre, thanks to a sophisticated production process and bold creative styles. This generation includes Arnal Ballester, whose daring graphic style sits somewhere between abstraction and constructivism, and Pep Montserrat, whose pictorial world is littered with visual metaphors.
Image 4: No tinc paraules [I Have No Words], by Arnal Ballester (1998), and Blancaneu (Snow White), illustrated by Pep Montserrat (2002)
Today, picture books cover a wide range of themes. For the first time, we are seeing a boom in realist picture books with a significant social aspect that reflect contemporary society’s new values. Social diversity, the environment, migration and xenophobia are all represented through various styles and techniques. This occurs in Noms robats [Stolen Names], by Tàssies, where the drawings, colours and linocut technique are used to portray the theme of bullying, and in Mallko y papá [Mallko and Dad], by Gusti, where the illustrator uses a mixture of techniques and styles to express his experience as the father of a child with Down’s syndrome through pictures.
Image 5: Noms robats [Stolen Names], by Tàssies (2010), and Malko y Papá [Mallko and Dad], by Gusti (2014)
Another feature of picture books in the new millennium is their increased narrative complexity: polyphony is provided by a textual narrator and a visual narrator. This is a device used by artists like Ignasi Blanch, whose visual language is delicate and versatile, and the duo consisting of Meritxell Martí and Xavier Salomó, who have proven able to create polyphonic wordless books, pop-up books and wimmelbooks of excellent aesthetic and literary quality.
Image 6: Podries [You Could], by Joana Raspall, illustrated by Ignasi Blanch (2017), and Sota les onades [Under the Waves], by Meritxell Martí, illustrated by Xavier Salomó (2019)
And the styles of these publications are just as varied as their themes. Illustrators like Albert Asensio and Bernat Cormand are minimalists, with a precise, sensitive technique, while others are more humorous and favour nonsense through dynamic forms, such as Marta Altés, David Pintor and Rocio Bonilla. Then there are those who make the most of new technologies and digital techniques, like Imapla. Finally, illustrators like Mercè Galí and Emilia Lang create artist’s books that contain artisanal, highly experimental proposals.
Image 7: El banc blau [The Blue Bench], by Albert Asensio (2016), and Els dies feliços [The Happy Days], by Bernat Cormand (2019)
Image 8: Image from Avis, piranyes i altres històries [Grandparents, Piranhas and Other Stories], by Rocio Bonilla (2020), Barcelona, by David Pintor (2016), and Cinc minuts més [Five More Minutes], by Marta Altés (2020)
Image 9: Petit indi [Little Indian], by Mercè Galí, and Gnoma, by Emilia Lang/Pea Green Boat
Informative and non-fiction picture books have also found a space in this field and are becoming increasingly popular. Some of the best-known artists in this area are Jordi Vila Delclòs, who can create highly realistic settings and scenery through his masterful control of space, and Mallorcan illustrator Aina Bestard, whose proposals are unique and play with transparencies and materiality.
Image 10: Roma [Rome], by Jordi Vila Delclòs (2013), and Naixements bestials [Beastly Births], by Aina Bestard (2018)
These artists’ skill has attracted international recognition, and Barcelona continues to be an epicentre of publishing, despite the effects of the current crisis. Of course, this summary is far from exhaustive. Many other names could have been mentioned. But the aim here was to focus on the most innovative names that best exemplify the vitality and creativity characteristic of illustration in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands.
Links to the artists mentioned:
The Institut Ramon Llull is a public body founded in 2002 Catalonia’s and Balearic Islands Governments with the purpose of promoting Catalan language studies at universities abroad, the translation of literature and thought written in Catalan, and Catalan cultural production in other areas like theatre, film, circus, dance, music, the visual arts, design and architecture.
To this end, the Institut Ramon Llull promotes the translation of works of literature written in Catalan, helping the publishers in other languages that publish them and the translators that perform the task, who are given continuous training and recognition for their work.
The Institut cooperates with literary festivals worldwide and regularly attends international book fairs. The Institut manages and organizes the presence of Catalan Culture as Guest of Honour at these events.
The Institut focuses on the most relevant Catalan titles and endorses outstanding books from Catalan publishers and agencies and, to do so, it produces its own promotional material.
In addition, the Institut organizes a fellowship programme held annually in Barcelona and targeting international publishers and agents. In 2021 the Institut is organizing the 20th edition. This will take place on-line in September, during the 39th Setmana del Llibre en Català (Catalan Book Week Festival). Since its first edition, in 2006, over 173 professionals from 32 countries have participated in this fellowship.
The programme aims to provide the participants with a more in-depth perspective on Catalan literature and the Catalan publishing sector as well as to build networks among Catalan and international publishing houses and literary agencies.
The Institut also offers 6 different Grants aimed at professionals within the publishing sector. Those three are the ones addressed to International Publishers:
1. Literature Translation – second open call of the year from May 3rd to June 30th
2. Illustrated Books – second open call of the year from May 3rd to June 30th
It covers 3 types of copyright assignment: work commissioned by a foreign publisher to an illustrator, sale of the copyright license for an already-published work and international co-editions.
3. Literature Promotion – second open call of the year from June 21st to October 27th
This grants cover works of Catalan literature published in translation in cultural journals, promotional events abroad focusing on illustrated works by an illustrator residing in Catalonia or the Balearic Islands and promotional events focusing on Catalan literature works, in including digital activities (pre-recorded videos, readings or performances, interviews online, etc.
Through these resources and initiatives, the Institut aims to support writers, illustrators, translators, publishers, literary agents, and festival curators to bring Catalan literature to readers around the world.
What went on around the U.S. in this (still mostly) virtual ICBD season?
As Illinois State Ambassador, Linda Wessels, describes,
In celebration of International Children's Book Day, Children's Services staff at Champaign (IL) Public Library collaborated on a Facebook Live world tour of children's books and songs. Each video segment was preceded by a geographic orientation to the book or song's origin. The 38-minute program for families of preschool- and school-aged kids can be viewed at https://bit.ly/3vukmVi. In-person library visitors enjoyed a display of recent USBBY Outstanding International Books.
North Carolina State Ambassador, Elizabeth Swaggerty, via Zoom, sponsored jointly by the North Carolina Reading Association and the Tar River Reading Council, introduced USBBY and highlighted 9 books. See the extraordianry presentation here!
The United States Board on Books for Young People
The U.S. National Section of International Board on Books for Young People
Building Bridges Through Children's and Young Adult Books
Center for Teaching through Children´s Books
National Louis University
1000 Capitol Drive
Wheeling, IL 60090
V. Ellis Vance, Executive Director Executive.Director@usbby.org
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