Athens was last the site of IBBY’s 1976 Congress, and the conference center was brimming with displays of IBBY Honor List titles and IBBY Italia’s Silent Lampedusa nominations. Both the auditorium keynotes and the concurrent session were buzzing with a rare energy. In one of the best-received and most provocative talks, former USBBY president Kathy Short spoke persuasively about the danger of teaching international books without context, tackling the dilemma of reading for pleasure versus reading for edification.
As Katherine Patterson acknowledged in the panel where a record number of Hans Christian Anderson award winners sat together onstage, the personal relationships IBBY facilitates are a balm for the wounds of the world in this troubled time. Paterson was a real presence in Athens. She received the Jella Leppman Medal there for her family foundation support of libraries in Gaza, voiced Takiko in a local student production of a reader’s theater version of Paterson’s Of Nightingales That Weep, and served as pivot point for the HCA panelists talk entitled “Culture in Crisis, or Crisis in Culture.” Paterson also announced she is writing a biography of IBBY founder Jella Leppman for young readers.
A rich number of concurrent sessions included Japanese market for literary tourism in the Cotswalds, the migration of a Turkish cartoon character following his audience, and wordless picture book pioneer Jennie Baker sharing her latest project, to cover just a few of the rich and well-reasoned papers presented.
At the Friday night gala Hans Christian Anderson banquet, this year’s winning author Eiko Kadono spoke movingly of life growing up in Japan during and after the Second World War and shared Igor Oleynikov’s surreal fantasy landscapes. In a particularly special Saturday morning talk where Leila Maktabi Ford compared and contrasted the career of IBBY founder Jella Leppman and an Iranian contemporary, Turan Mirhadi, who similarly spearheaded several revolutionary projects around children’s literature.
The three day event in Athens left participants counting down to the next Congress in Moscow. See you there!
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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