Illustrator Klaas Verplancke makes his mark in Bologna
At this year’s Bologna Children’s Book Fair special attention was given to the work of illustrator Klaas Verplancke. His book ‘Magritte’s Apple’ was shortlisted for the new Bologna Ragazzi Award for children’s books on art and was central to a whole series of activities revolving around this theme.
On Sunday 2 April there was a preview of the exhibition ‘Questa non è una mostra, signor Magritte’ (This is not an exhibition, Mr Magritte) featuring original illustrations and reproductions from three children’s books about the life and work of René Magritte. Besides originals by Klaas Verplancke, this exhibition also contains work by Javier Sáez Castán and D.B. Johnson. The exhibition will travel through Italy and abroad. In autumn 2017 Klaas Verplancke’s pieces will be coming back to Belgium for a while for a series of exhibitions in Brussels libraries, in collaboration with IBBY Wallonia. An attractive catalogue has also been compiled for the exhibition, with extensive essays on art books for young readers and their essential role in developing visual and aesthetic literacy.
The importance of diversity in children's books
In the exhibition space Klaas Verplancke gave a workshop for children on surrealism and the work of René Magritte. On Tuesday 4 April a panel discussion on ‘Children’s books on art and on artists’ attracted a lot of attention. “A strong case was made for more children’s books that are an accurate reflection of our contemporary multi-cultural society,” says Verplancke. “(Art) books still show too little of that diversity and give a platform mainly to white men. More diversity in children’s books will also help us in the struggle against xenophobia and intolerance.”
The author's visit to Bologna was completed with a successful book-signing and press session at the Giannino Stoppani bookshop and the launch of the Italian version of the book at the fair. The icing on the cake was the sale of translation rights for ‘Magritte’s Apple’ in a number of languages, bringing the total number of translations of this title to more than ten.