IBBY UK Chair’s Report April 2018 – end March 2019
This has been my fifth year as Chair of IBBY UK, a busy year of consolidation and some significant developments. Our key aim – to represent the UK children’s books world internationally and the international world of children’s books within the UK – is essential if we are to feel part of a worldwide community during these challenging times. We all have so much to learn from each other.
We are grateful to the organisations and publishers who support our work. These include publishers for their review copies and multiple copies of books for awards; CLPE (Centre for Literacy in Primary Education) and Islington Libraries for the use of their rooms for meetings; and Waterstones and the Black Cultural Archives for hosting events; and to the universities and book organisations who have developed programmes using our touring exhibitions.
We are also grateful to our UK committee members who are all volunteers and each take a lead on specific areas. Subgroups meet to work on ideas and activities and this has been a successful model. This year we particularly want to thank Sophie Hallam and Andri Johnston for all the work they have done on our website; Ken Wilson-Max for his great redesign of IBBYLink, and Sue Mansfield who has patiently managed the tricky transition to subscription payments via the website, developed a really interesting regular newsletter and all at the same time as managing our finances and the touring exhibition programme. We also want to give our very special thanks to Clive Barnes who will be stepping down from the committee after many years during which time he has made an immeasurable contribution to the development of IBBY UK, including as committee chair during the immensely successful IBBY Congress in London in 2012.
For the next year our biggest challenge is to increase our membership and income streams to make IBBY UK financially secure now that the cushion of surplus has largely been used on the developments we have introduced since 2012.
More detailed information about all items mentioned in this report is available on our IBBY UK 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 available on the IBBY website. Most notable of these are the Honour List and the Outstanding Books for Children with Disabilities List, both biennial.
Outstanding Books for Children with Disabilities List
Three of the 11 titles submitted from the UK for the current 2019 list were selected: Proud to be Deaf by Ava, Lilli and Nick Beese (Wayland, Hachette); The State of Grace by Rachel Lucas (Pan Macmillan) and Susin Nielsen Optimists Die First (Andersen Press).
IBBY Honour List
We have to make our selection for the next IBBY Honour List by September this year so please send in your nominations or join us at the selection meeting.
We were able to nominate five titles for the next iteration of this very popular wordless book list: Caged by Duncan Annand (Tiny Owl); Chalk Eagle by Nazil Tahvili (Tiny Owl); Once upon a Snowstorm by Richard Johnson (Faber); Bee and Me by Alison Jay (Old Barn Books) and A Stone for Sascha by Aaron Becker (Walker)
This vital part of our programme to promote international children’s books in the UK has gone from strength to strength this year with new partners coming in to the programme. The tours in 2018-2019 were of the IBBY Honour List Collection for 2018 and the IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities 2017. Various blogs about users’ experiences have been added to the website and make for inspirational reading.
We are now in the process of preparing a submission for an Arts Council award to help us develop this work. We have evidence of interest and impact and feel that it fits well within the Arts Council diversity initiatives.
Sophie Hallam was elected to the IBBY Executive in September 2018 at the Athens Congress and has attended Executive meetings there and in Bologna.
IBBY Congress 2018, Athens
The UK was well represented at this Congress which was a great success for the Greek IBBY Section who had stepped in at short notice to organise it after IBBY Turkey made the decision that they could not proceed. A very moving speech by Deborah Ellis entitled Before they give the orders… is well worth reading. It has been reprinted in Bookbird no 57 for those of you who have access, but we are also negotiating to put this on our website. The 2020 Congress will be held in Moscow.
Bologna 2019 and the biennial IBBY Europe conference
Again IBBY UK was well represented in Bologna with a host of meetings including an important discussion about strategies for promoting Bookbird in the UK. The biennial IBBY Europe conference was generously supported by the Bologna Book Fair and very well attended. Its theme was Languages in Europe and you can find a blog about it on our website and the papers will be available on the IBBY Europe website.
Nominating UK authors and writers for the various UK and 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 made nominations for:
Book Trust Lifetime Achievement Award
Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award
Hans Christian Andersen Awards
Our nominations are John Agard and Helen Oxenbury. The submission portfolios are available on our website and are a powerful statement of their respective work. Many thanks to all who helped prepare these excellent documents.
Carnegie and Greenaway Awards
This year for the first time IBBY UK, along with a number of other national organisations, was invited to nominate for the longlists for these two awards as a result of the Diversity Review conducted by CILIP. Our suggestions were Paola Peretti’s The Distance between Me and the Cherry Tree, translated from the Italian and published by Hot Key, and Thinker, My Puppy Poet and Me by Eloise Greenfield illustrated by Ehsan Abdollahi and published by Tiny Owl.
Bratislava Illustration Biennale 2019
IBBY UK is the joint nominating bodies for BIB in collaboration with the International Centre for the Picture Book in Society at the University of Worcester University. Our 14 nominees for the 2019 BIB reflect the extraordinary range of talent we have to draw on: Coralie Bickford-Smith, Rebecca Cobb, Benji Davies, Marion Deuchars, Eva Eland, Petr Horacek, Poonam Mistry , Levi Pinfold, David Roberts, Francesca Sanna, Maisie Paradise Shearing, Pam Smy, Ed Vere and Beth Waters
We are also delighted that the book of the Migrations exhibition held in Bratislava in 2017 is about to be published by Otter Barry Books, with the proceeds from sales shared between Amnesty and IBBY.
3. Events and Conference
In September 2018 we celebrated the UK nominations for the Honour Book List 2018 at a very well attended event in Waterstones Piccadilly. Our three nominees, Sita Brahmachari, Viviane Schwarz and Charlotte Barslund talked in some depth about their work and influences.
Our AGM was held on 29 June 2018 at the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton where author and archivist SI (Steve) Martin talked about his work and spine-chillingly about historical events, very local to where we were in Brixton, that he has incorporated into his work
The annual IBBY / NCRCL conference was this year held at Roehampton on the theme of Crafts and Hobbies and was our 25th conference in partnership with NCRCL. Both Kim Reynolds and Nick Tucker attended and shared their memories of the early conferences as well as contributing ably to the programme.
This year we were not able to participate in the London Book Fair programme.
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.
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. Both the website and the journal include book reviews and we are always looking to add to our team of reviewers and indeed to our team of volunteers who work on the website.
Our journal IBBYLink is produced three times a year and has been redesigned to make it more attractive to read online
5. IBBY Christmas Card
The 2018 card was an illustration by Emily Sutton, for which many thanks. Next year we will be offering mixed packs of cards as well as a general card for use for all occasions.
6. IBBY UK committee and changes
This year’s committee members were Susan Bailes Clive Barnes, Rosamund Bird, Rebecca Butler, Suzanne Curley, Pam Dix, Sophie Hallam Jennifer Harding, Ferelith Hordon, Lina Iordanaki, Ann Lazim, Sue Mansfield, Liza Miller, Carol Thompson and Ken Wilson-Max. They were joined during the year by Andri Johnston and Karenanne Knight, and temporarily by Simran Divatia and Maleeha Mir who both worked as volunteers on the website. Sadly Judith Philo resigned at last year’s AGM after a number of years of sterling work managing the IBBY book reviews. In October Nikki Marsh decided, for personal reasons, to take a break from the committee though she continues as a corresponding member. We are always looking for new members to join the committee.
Pam Dix, May 2019