IBBY UK Chair’s Report April 2016 – end March 2017
This has been my third year as Chair of IBBY UK, a busy year with a good range of events and activities. We have worked hard to develop the relationships that IBBY UK has within the children’s book world and also to develop our relationships within the international IBBY network. This allows us to bring ideas and real contacts to the diversity discussion within the UK and reflects IBBY’s special quality. Our aim is to represent the UK children’s books world internationally and the international world of children’s books to the UK. This feels particularly important in the context of Brexit discussions, a point made by colleagues both here and in Europe.
We would not be able to do this without the help of the publishers, who supply us with review copies and with multiple copies of books for inclusion in IBBY lists. This year Sophie and Sue from our committee attended a useful meeting of children’s publishers at the Publishers Association to explain our work in more detail. Our special thanks also go to CLPE (Centre for Literacy in Primary Education) for the use of their rooms for meetings, to Islington Libraries for the same, and also to Waterstones who have welcomed us and generously hosted a number of events this year.
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 and with a small planning and development subgroup. This has worked very successfully and I want to take this opportunity to thank them all for the work they do. We have been greatly strengthened by the new committee members who replied to our advertisement and have now completed their first year.
We are starting to see a slow increase in membership partly through our additional activities. Nevertheless, it is still a challenge 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. This is an international problem and one that IBBY is considering as part of their overall review and strategic planning.
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 and are all available on the IBBY website. Most notable of these are the biennial Honour List and the Outstanding Books for Children with Disabilities List.
A small group of committee members made the selection for the Outstanding Books for Children with Disabilities List 2017. There was a considerable increase in the number of books put forward for consideration so this was rather a large task this year. We nominated a record number of 23 books but sadly only three of these were selected for the catalogue. As a result we have decided to celebrate the UK selection by making them into a touring collection. They are currently on display in Worcester University and are available for booking, and we hope to plan an event to look at the books in more detail. The full list can be seen on our website.
The books included in the final catalogue are Sarah Crossan’s One, two of Dorling Kindersley’s ground breaking tactile Braille Reference books Counting and It can’t be true. Also included was Cece Bell’s outstanding autobiographical novel El Deafo, which will appear as US nomination as first published there, though nominated by us.
Another international list that we are involved in is the Silent Books Collection, now in its third 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 will be in the UK from June 2017. We are pleased to say that there was much more choice for UK nominations to the latest list and we have put forward the following books:
Clayton Junior’s Free the lines, Kate Prendergast Dog on a train, Emily Rand’s In the garden and In the city, JiHyeon Lee’s Pool, Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick’s Owl Bat Bat Owl, JonArno Lawson & Sydney Smith’s Footpath flowers, and Aaron Becker’s Journey and Quest and Return.
As part of our aim to promote IBBY’s work, we have developed a programme for the various book collections to tour in the UK. The exhibitions have been shown at the Story Museum in Oxford, the Hive in Worcester, Seven Stories in Newcastle, and Brighton, Cambridge and Roehampton Universities. They have been used in different ways in each location and our longer term aim is to submit a bid to the Arts Council to develop a programme in partnership with various children’s literature centres and courses. There are three new venues signed up for the 2017 tour including the Scottish Book Trust, our first venue outside England.
Our committee member, Ferelith Hordon was re-elected for her second term as the UK representative on the IBBY international committee in 2017.
IBBY Congress 2016, New Zealand
The UK was well represented at the Congress and several UK delegates gave papers. Our bursary recipients in particular gave papers that were well received, and many countries spoke to us to find out more about this way of supporting and encouraging younger members. Blogs and other accounts of the Congress experience can be found on our website but it is fair to say that we worked really hard to promote the UK at what was a fascinating conference.
Many of you will have already heard the announcement made by IBBY in Bologna to cancel the 2018 congress in Istanbul because of the complex political situation there. This was extremely difficult for our Turkish colleagues who have been planning the congress for so long. A recent announcement from IBBY is that the congress will be relocated to Athens from 30 August to 1 September 2018 and the theme will remain as East meets West around Children’s Books and Fairy Tales
Paris children’s book fair and planning for Refugee conference to be held in Bologna in April 2017
Pam and Ann both visited this book fair in December 2016 and recommend it. Pam was in Paris to plan the first IBBY Europe Conference, held in Bologna in April with the theme of supporting child refugees throughout Europe. More details of this will be published shortly but the poster and agenda are available on the website.
Pam was also given an excellent tour of the provision for children’s literature in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris.
The Baltic States will be the LBF market focus in 2018. Both the cultural organisations and IBBY sections are very actively planning for this with a range of interesting activities including an extensive illustrator programme in collaboration with Pop up. As part of this planning, Sophie was asked to work with the Lithuanian Cultural Institute to organise a delegation of children’s publishers to Lithuania in February. Six publishers joined the group together with Sophie and Pam. We attended the book fair in Vilnius, met a wide range of literacy organisations, academics, publishers, writers and illustrators. We are now working with them to plan events during LBF in 2018.
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:
UK Children’s Laureate
We are one of the nominating bodies for this, which we do by consulting members. We look forward to the announcement, to be made in Hull on 7 June.
Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award
Our nominations for the 2017 Award were Chris Riddell and Book Aid International. Sadly these were not successful so we have decided to re-submit for the 2018 award.
Hans Christian Andersen Awards
Our nominations for the 2018 award are Melvin Burgess (author) and Jane Ray (illustrator). The submission portfolios are available on our website and many thanks to all who helped prepare these excellent documents. We will be hosting two events to celebrate these nominations: Jane’s will be part of her solo exhibition at the Illustration Cupboard on 12 September and Melvin’s will be here in Waterstones on 5 October.
3. Events Programme and Conference
Our UK nominees in the current IBBY Honour List 2016, S F Said, Laura Carlin and Chantal Wright, all attended a celebratory event held at Waterstones. Each nominee was interviewed by a member of the committee and it was interesting to both find out more about their work and hear what the Honour List inclusion has meant to them. We will be doing the selection for the 2018 list in August this year, so do contact us if you would like to be involved.
We had a strong profile at the 2017 London Book Fair. We co-hosted a seminar with the British Council to celebrate the visiting illustrators from Poland, Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski, and Marta Ignerska. They were joined by the Mizielinskis’ Polish and UK publishers and Sara Fanelli and chaired by Duncan Partridge from the English Speaking Unit. It was a fascinating debate about trends in information book publishing and whether ‘pictures travel’. Pam also chaired a panel discussion with three well-known illustrators from each of the Baltic States
Our AGM was held here in Waterstones and Jacqueline Wilson shared her childhood reading with us, and reflected on what these books meant to her as a child and as an adult re-reading them.
The annual IBBY / NCRCL conference was held at Roehampton in November 2016 and had a record number of attendees. The theme was Marvellous Imaginations: extending thinking through picture books, which attracted a good range of academic speakers and also practitioners. Unfortunately, Roehampton’s new charging policy for rooms has meant that the profit from the Conference, though reasonable because of the high number of delegates and sponsorship, is affected. This year, 2018, because of staffing issues around sabbaticals and other matters, the NCRCL is not able to commit to a conference, so the IBBY UK committee has decided to run a smaller one-day event at CLPE on Saturday, 11 November. More details will be announced tonight.
As part of the process of building our networks and profile in the UK we attend meetings and events to promote and represent the work of IBBY. In particular we are pleased with the developing collaboration with the Illustration Department at Worcester University, where we are joint nominating bodies for the Bratislava Biennial of Illustration.
We attended the Marsh awards for translation at the ESU, the Book Trust Lifetime Achievement Award, given to Raymond Briggs and the Amnesty CKG announcement.
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. We have appointed Osomi as our new web designers and we are close to launching the new site. It has taken longer than expected because of technical issues with the transfer of data but we hope it will be worth waiting for as it is both attractive, easy to manage and allows much more flexibility.
Three issues of our IBBYLink journal have been published this year, on the Conference theme, on Refugees, and on Childhood.
5. IBBY Christmas Card
Our 2016 card was an illustration from Jane Ray’s The Nutcracker, very appropriately as Jane was later chosen as our Hans Christian Andersen nominee. Sales of cards this year were higher than ever.
6. IBBY UK committee and changes
It has been important to have an experienced committee this year so that the work can be shared. Committee members were Pam Dix (Chair), John Dunne (Secretary), Susan Bailes (Vice Chair), Sue Mansfield (Treasurer and Membership), Judith Philo (Book review editor), Clive Barnes, Sophie Hallam, Jennifer Harding, Ferelith Hordon (IBBYlink editor), Ann Lazim, Nikki Marsh (Events Organiser), Carol Thompson, Ken Wilson Max, Rebecca Butler, Suzanne Curley, Lina Iordanaki and Liza Miller. I would like to take this opportunity to thank each of them for the work that they have done and the various roles they play.
However it is with great sadness that we mark today the resignation of John Dunne from the committee. John has been instrumental in keeping the presence of IBBY in the UK over many years and has played a number of roles on the committee including latterly as secretary and Christmas card ‘publisher’, and formerly as our representative on the Children’s Laureate committee. We can’t even begin to say how influential he has been and his networks have been invaluable to us. Liza has all our support and thanks as she steps into the role of secretary, and Ken into his role as ‘publisher’ of the Christmas card. We want to celebrate John’s contribution at this AGM.
Pam Dix, May 2017