Hot on the heels of the Spanish Semana del álbum, France is currently enjoying the return of the Salon du livre et de la presse jeunesse in Montreuil, Seine Saint-Denis, Paris. This is the 35th time the book fair has been held and it runs from Wednesday 27 November to Monday 2 December. There is a special emphasis on the international dimension of children’s publishing this year with one in ten of the 250 invited authors coming from outside France. New partnerships have also been established with 12 embassies and several international cultural foundations and associations that promote children’s literature.
This year’s programming is designed around the fair’s central theme “Éloge de la lenteur” – In praise of slow. This topic is all about taking time to slow down, using your senses, really seeing what is around us and dwelling on these moments, the opposite of what many of us experience in our day-to-day hurrying and scurrying. Attendees are even encouraged to put their mobile phones onto aeroplane mode while visiting the fair!
The book fair is not only an opportunity for publishers and other associations to present and sell their wares at the 450 stands, but also a chance for children and teenagers to participate in a range of creative activities. As well as meet-and-greet sessions with authors and illustrators there are book readings, workshops and guided visits. Illustration and graphic design students can also attend masterclasses and debates with professionals and creators.
The guest of honour at this year’s fair is Réunion, a French overseas territory in the Indian Ocean. The island’s literature evokes both a sense of insularity and the call of the sea. A 21m2 stand sponsored by La Réunion des Livres will host 6 authors, 14 artists, illustrators and cartoonists and 10 publishers. The programme includes events highlighting the island’s flora and fauna, live illustration sessions, and a session for publishing professionals.
The opening day also sees the award of the Pépites prizes selected by juries of young readers. The winners this year are:
- Junior Fiction – Akita et les grizzlys, Caroline Solé, ill. Gaya Wisniewski (L’école des loisirs)
- Comic Book – Les Vermeilles, Camille Jourdy (Actes Sud BD)
- Young Adult Fiction – Le Dernier sur la plaine, Nathalie Bernard (Thierry Magnier)
- Illustrated Book – Midi pile, Rébecca Dautremer (Sarbacane)
- Pépite d’Or 2019 – Sans foi ni loi, Marion Brunet (PKJ)
What is also fabulous about this festival is the reception it has received in the media. French newspaper Libération on Wednesday has opened its pages to authors and illustrators from the world of children’s publishing. It also includes a pull-out section for young readers, Le P’tit Libé, that explains how books are created, illustrated and edited. You can read more in French at www.liberation.fr/
To find out more about the festival over the coming days, you can follow their Twitter feed @SLJP93 or go to their website (in French) www.slpjplus.fr.
Written by Johanna McCalmont and Claire Storey