IBBY UK Chair’s Report April 2015 – March 2016
This has been my second year as Chair of IBBY UK, a busy year which has been both fun and productive. As we said at the AGM last year, our aims for the year were to continue to strengthen the relationships that IBBY UK has within the children’s book world, with a particular emphasis on diversity in children’s publishing and translation. Above all we wanted to make more of a focus on the international dimension of children’s literature that is IBBY’s special quality.
We are developing a good range of networks and partnerships within this world – in publishing, in the academic world and with various key organisations. We would particularly like to thank the publishers who supply us with multiple copies of books for inclusion in IBBY lists, for shortlisting purposes and for reviews, and also a special thanks to CLPE (Centre for Literacy in Primary Education) for the use of their rooms for meetings.
All of this work takes time and effort from the group of committed volunteers who make up the IBBY UK committee. We work collaboratively with different committee members taking the lead on different areas. This has worked very successfully and I want to take this opportunity to thank them all for the work they do. As a result of our increased profile and work programme, we have recently advertised for additional committee members and we welcome them this evening when they will need to be voted in alongside the committee members who are standing again. We are particularly pleased to have two new student members and a permanent place on the committee for a student from Roehampton, which will support the organisation of the annual conference with NCRCL.
We hope that additional activities will also lead to an increase in membership. As ever, we have to balance our income, which is mainly from membership fees, Christmas card sales and the conference against the costs of our subscription to IBBY and the costs associated with nominations and awards.
More detailed information about everything mentioned in this report is available on our website or on the IBBY website.
1. Promoting the work of IBBY and international links
IBBY produces a number of resources lists based on nominations from its 80 plus member countries. These are, therefore, key guides to children’s publishing around the world. Most notable of these are the biennial Honour List and the Outstanding Books for Children with Disabilities List.
Our UK nominees in the current IBBY Honour List 2016 are:
Writing: S F Said Phoenix (David Fickling Books / Corgi Random House)
Illustration: Laura Carlin The promise, author Nicola Davies (Walker)
Translation: Chantal Wright Anton and Piranha, author Milena Baisch (Andersen Press)
As we reported last year, the most recent Outstanding Books for Children with Disabilities List had a record six of our nominated UK titles selected for inclusion. The selection panel is currently working on the list for the 2017 catalogue and report a considerable increase in the number of books put forward for consideration.
Another international list that we are involved in is the Silent Books Collection, now in its second edition. This is a collection of wordless picture books sponsored by IBBY Italia with the specific intention of using them with refugee communities in Lampedusa. There is also a travelling exhibition of the books, which is booked for the UK in 2017. When we came to do the nominations for the second edition, we were surprised by the lack of wordless picture books published in the UK during the nomination period. Most of the titles we considered were bought in from publishers outside the UK and therefore eligible for nomination by other IBBY member countries. We put forward one title for inclusion:
Alison Jay Out of the blue (Barefoot)
We were delighted when this was not only selected for inclusion but also given an honourable mention by Amnesty International.
As part of our aim to promote IBBY’s work, we were very keen to find a way to bring these collections of resources to show to colleagues in the UK. This has been an experimental project but has been extremely successful. We started with the Illustration Section of the Honour List and this has been followed by the current Outstanding Books for Children with Disabilities List. The exhibitions have been shown at the Story Museum in Oxford, the Hive in Worcester, Seven Stories in Newcastle, and Brighton and Roehampton Universities. They have been used in different ways in each location and we have a short evaluation of this. The only costs to us have been transport. Each location is keen to participate in this as an ongoing programme and we are planning to have a meeting of these partners to discuss ways of developing and supporting this. We have also made a request to IBBY for Worcester University to house a deposit collection of the Disabilities list books so that it is permanently available in the UK. This fits with the University’s mission.
Our committee member, Ferelith Hordeon was elected as the UK representative on this international committee in 2014 and keeps us informed of the overall work of IBBY. Her particular focus has been to work with the European IBBY group, on the European newsletter and a possible conference.
One of our aims for the next year is to consider ways in which we can work to support IBBY’s Children in Crisis programme and to see if there is any way in which we can join with European colleagues to support child refugees in Europe.
IBBY Congress 2016, New Zealand
Once again we were able to offer bursaries to attend this congress to members and students. We thank Gillian Lathey for joining the selection panel for this. There was a strong field of candidates and places have been allocated to Xiaofei Shi from Cambridge University and Soumi Dey from Glasgow University. A number of UK IBBY members and others have been selected to give papers or presentations at the Congress, which will be held in August.
Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival
IBBY UK was invited to be the guest country at the 2016 Festival, held in April. Sophie Hallam was in charge of the organsiation and the delegation is Diane Hofmeyr, Alexis Deacon, Julia Eccleshare and Sophie. They will be running a number of events for children at the festival and in schools as well as looking at Arabic publishing. We are very grateful to them all for agreeing to participate.
Bologna Children’s Book Fair
We have realised that it is essential to ensure that we attend this event as so much networking and planning happens at the Fair. We will ensure that, whenever possible, this is built into our annual work programme for the future.
Nominating UK authors and writers for the various international awards is one of the major aspects of our work and we try to involve members as much as possible in the nomination process. In the last year we have been involved with:
Biennial of Illustration, Bratislava (BIB)
IBBY UK and the International Centre for the Picture Book in Society at Worcester University are now the joint nominating body in the UK for this award. Now in its 50th year, it has entries from about 50 countries, and in 2015 there were 355 entrants. The UK had not participated for many years despite the Award’s international prestige. We selected 15 illustrators:
Angela Barrett, Laura Carlin, Alexis Deacon, Jo Empson, Olivia Gill, William Grill, Chris Haughton (Ireland), Emily Hughes, Jim Kay, Dave McKean, Alice Melvin, Levi Pinfold, Yu Rong, Salvatore Rubbino and Viviane Schwarz.
We were absolutely delighted when Laura Carlin was selected as the overall winner for A world of your own (Phaidon Press) & Iron Man (Walker Books) and Levi Pinfold for an honourable mention for Black dog & Greenling (Templar).
Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award
Our nominations for the 2016 Award were Jacqueline Wilson and Book Aid International. Sadly these were not successful but we were delighted to see the award going to Meg Rosoff.
Hans Christian Andersen Awards
Our nominations for 2016 were Elizabeth Laird (author) and Chris Riddell (illustrator). A very successful evening event was held with both of them in Waterstones in Piccadilly in November and it was a pleasure to hear them interviewed by Nicolette Jones and to explore the depth of their commitment to writing and illustrating for children. Sadly they were not successful but the submission documents, prepared with help from Julia Eccleshare and Piet Grobler, are available on our website.
3. Events Programme and Conference
Our Hans Christian Andersen nominees, Elizabeth and Chris were involved in several other events in addition to the Waterstones evening. We helped to sponsor one of Chris’s sessions at the Bath Children’s Book Festival and were able to mention IBBY UK in the introduction. Elizabeth did a couple of events in Edinburgh in the programme following the Edinburgh Festival, one for adults and one with a school.
We joined with Books for Keeps to launch Teal Triggs and Daniel Frost’s highly original book The School of Art (Wide-Eyed Publications) This very well attended event was held at the Royal College of Art where Teal is a professor and helped forge a number of new partnerships for IBBY.
In April we had a strong profile at the London Book Fair and shared several seminars with our colleagues from Mexico, the guest country for 2015. We were nominated and shortlisted for the International Excellence Award, which was won by Daniel Hahn. We were able to host our Mexican publishing colleagues at a drinks party at CLPE and return the hospitality they had shown us at the IBBY Congress in 2014. This helped build relationships for the future. We were also able to work with The Guardian children’s books website to produce a gallery of Mexican illustrators. This was followed later in the year by a gallery of Iranian illustrators and is a programme that we hope will continue.
Last year’s AGM was held at the House of Illustration. The Director, Colin McKenzie, shared his plans and hopes for the next year of the museum and those attending were able to tour the current exhibitions.
The annual IBBY / NCRCL conference was held at Roehampton on 14th November 2015 and was on the theme of Steering the craft: navigating the process of creating children’s books in the 21st century. This was a topical subject and resulted in a well-attended conference with some excellent speakers from across the spectrum of children’s literature.
4. Website, newsletter and IBBYLink
Work on the website and social media has continued during the year as this is one of our main ways of keeping members up to date. But it has been held back by technical delays. We are now in the process of tendering for a new web developer to help us take the site to where we want to be, which will include paying subscriptions online.
Our IBBYLink journal now focuses on themed issues and book reviews and three issues have been produced during the year, on Fairy Tales, Latin American and Mexico, and the Conference theme. The forthcoming issue is on Refugees.
5. IBBY Christmas Card
Our 2015 card was a new illustration designed for us by Jan Pienkowski, also the designer of our first Christmas card. This had been arranged before the refugee crisis became so serious in the summer of 2015. Called ‘I saw three ships’ it recalled Jan’s own experience of arriving in the UK as a refugee after the Second World War. Card sales continue to be one of our main income sources.
6. IBBY UK committee and changes
It has been a great to work with an established committee this year as there has been so much going on. As I mentioned each member of the committee plays a significant role. Beth Cox resigned this year as she has had a baby, though she continues to advise us, as does Anna McQuinn, who resigned for family reasons.
Committee members for 2015 are Pam Dix (Chair), John Dunne (Secretary), Susan Bailes (Vice Chair), Sue Mansfield (Treasurer and Membership), Judith Philo (Book review editor), Clive Barnes, Beth Cox, Sophie Hallam, Jennifer Harding, Ferelith Hordon, Ann Lazim, Anna McQuinn, Nikki Marsh, Carol Thompson. Meryl Halls joined the committee as the representative of the Booksellers Association.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank each of them for the work that they have done. In particular, Sophie continues to manage the website, Ferelith and Jennifer IBBYLink, Sue and Clive the reports to both Companies House and the Charity Commission as well as Sue’s work on the finances and membership, and John keeps everything moving smoothly as secretary as well as running a small post office for the Christmas card sales. But it is a team effort and we look forward to the year ahead and a new committee.
Pam Dix, May 2016