Picture books being pitched at Bologna

Picture books being pitched at Bologna

20 March, 2024

First Nations publisher Magabala, winner of the 2023 Bologna Prize for the Oceania region, is excited: ‘The release of a book by bestselling and award-winning author Gregg Dreise is always an event, so this Bologna Book Fair we’re excited to be presenting a whole new picture book series by Gregg … called Scales and Tales.’ Dreise is a proud descendant of the Goomelroi/Kamilaroi and Euahlayi people of southwest Queensland and north-west New South Wales; the first title in the new series is Super Snake, ‘a morality tale, set in the context of a Creation story’ that tells of the Rainbow Serpent and is filled with Dreise’s much-loved colourful paintings. ‘Conveyed with heart and humour, Super Snake will be a family favourite,’ says the publisher. Also from Magabala, look out for the board book I Can Count, which has text by one of Australia’s best-known writers, Sally Morgan, who belongs to the Palyku people, and is illustrated by the talented Jingalu, a Bagawa woman. ‘Another testament to Sally Morgan’s advocacy for early literacy learning, I Can Count is a fun and interactive way for families and young readers to learn to count together. With a soaring sun, coral clouds, purple frogs, pink snakes, lime birds, blue dragonflies, peach butterflies, yellow possums, orange owls and green stars, this is a visual feast for young eyes. Jingalu’s unique artwork is quirky, contemporary and vibrant—emphasising fun in learning.’

From Allen & Unwin (A&U) comes South with the Seabirds by Jess McGeachin (September 2024), in which award-winning creator McGeachin ‘beautifully captures the inspiring true story of the first four female scientists to join an Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition to sub-Antarctica where they’re greeted by giant seabirds, snorting seals and penguins as far as the eye could see’; How to Measure the Ocean by Inda Ahmad Zahri (May 2024), a ‘lyrical exploration of the beauty of maths and the wonders of the ocean, sparking curiosity while introducing early maths concepts along the way’; and Ethel the Penguin by Ursula Dubosarsky (illus by Christopher Nielsen, October 2024), a ‘funny and exuberant story about the vicarious joy of a wild and unruly friend from two of Australia’s bestselling and award-winning creators’.

From Hachette, Davina Bell’s Cheeky Toddler Alphabet is a celebration of the chaos ‘but also the tenderness’ of the toddler years—‘that bittersweet window of domestic life when each day is a magical bun fight’; George the Wizard by AFL player, television presenter and now author Tony Armstrong is ‘all about self-acceptance, celebrating our differences and finding friends in life who accept you as you are’; and Grandmother from the East, Grandmother from the West is a ‘beautiful, gentle book about the way our grandparents’ identities can shape our own’, from debut Chinese-Australian writer Jacinta Liu.

What Stars Are For by Margeaux Davis is ‘a moving story about curiosity, overcoming your fears and finding friendship’, according to the publisher, Affirm Press. Also from the same publisher is Reading to Baby by award winners Margaret Wild and Hannah Sommerville: a story to remind us of the wonder and magic of reading, featuring Dora, who has doting big brothers who play with her, look after her, and guide her as she grows—but Peter reads to her, which turns out to be the greatest gift of all. Fairy Beach by Sheila Knaggs and Jennifer Falkner, also from Affirm, is a ‘truly unique fairy story and a whimsical celebration of summer beach days, shown through dazzling artwork’.

In the ‘heartwarming and emotive picture book’ The Truck Cat from Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing (HGCP), award-winning artist Danny Snell and author Deborah Frenkel explore the connections between cats and people, immigration, and the concept of home, through the journey of ginger cat Tinka. Sandhya Parappukkaran and Michelle Pereira have created ‘a beautiful story’ exploring language attrition and the special relationship between grandparents and grandchildren in Words That Taste Like Home (also HGCP), while Mama Bear and Me (also HGCP) is a loving tribute to real-life mama bears from Sophie Beer, the bestselling author of Love Makes a Family and Kindness Makes Us Strong.

Nova’s Missing Masterpiece (Brooke Graham & Robin Tatlow-Lord, Exisle) is a picture book that helps children recognise the body signals that indicate they’re starting to feel frustrated or angry, and features evidence-based strategies to help calm down. It follows Nova, who realises the artwork she created for her dad’s birthday present is missing; she must calm herself down to find it in time. In Two Rabbits (Larissa Ferenchuk & Prue Pittock), also from Exisle, two little rabbits have had an argument. As they go their separate ways into the night, the wind whispers around them to remind them of their sharp words. Will they be able to come back together and find a way to save their friendship? The book ‘uses repetition in the wording, showing that the rabbits are both on a similar emotional journey even though their physical journey takes them to different places,’ according to the publisher. The Real Cowgirl (Isabelle Duff & Susannah Crispe, also Exisle) is a ‘heartwarming story’ about friendship. It follows Sal, who feels like a cowgirl–brave, smart and wild–when she rides her pony, but is isolated and anxious at school. It’s pitched for parents, caregivers and teachers as a conversation-starter with kids about scary feelings.

Walker Books Australia’s picture book titles include Good Hair (Yvonne Sewankambo, illus by Freda Chiu), which Walker’s Melissa Luckman calls ‘a celebration of hair, braiding together themes of diversity, self-acceptance and self expression’. Luckman also said award winners Meg McKinlay and Karen Blair’s How to Make a Bedtime is a ‘classic-in-the-making bear hug of a bedtime book … full of universal appeal’, while Venita Dimos and Natashia Curtin return with Elephants Can’t Jump, the latest instalment in their Mini and Milo series.

Finally, Windy Hollow has a new series of wellness books for toddlers by Anna Pignataro: Chill Out, Love Green, Go Wild and Be Kind are board books that ‘encourage positivity, mindfulness and care for others and the environment’; and the publisher is also pitching Knock Knock (Catherine Meatheringham & Deb Hudson), a ‘joyous celebration of children’s lives and language around the world’.

Originally published by Books and Publishing (Read More)