Illustrated books bring Taiwan to the world at 2016 Bologna Children’s Book Fair

The Taiwan Pavilion at the 2016 Bologna Children’s Book Fair brought the country’s most celebrated illustrated books to global readers’ attention from April 4-7 in Italy. Themed “YO Taiwan,” the pavilion boasted a vast array of titles highlighting Taiwan’s distinctive culture, landscape and human warmth, while bringing Taiwanese artists closer to their European readers. Feature illustrators include Chao-lun Tsai, whose I Can’t See won Special Mention of the BolognaRagazzi Award for Disability, as well as Ju Tzu, who was selected in this year’s Bologna Illustrators Exhibition for her illustrations from Aspeen and the Emperor’s New Clothes.

Ping-kun Tsai, Political Deputy Minister from Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture, said illustrations and children’s books have long been embraced by families, a cherished experience that is hard to be replaced by digital books. “Children’s books are a publishing sector featuring high growth,” Tsai said during his opening remarks at the pre-fair press conference, “and they play an important role in establishing the reading habit of children.” The deputy minister hoped that Taiwan’s participation in the world-leading children’s book fair will promote Taiwan’s rich illustration culture while putting the country on the world stage.

He also praised Taiwanese illustrators’ consistently strong performance in the Bologna Illustrators Exhibition over the years. Among the 77 artists selected this year, from a pool of 3,191, seven are from Taiwan. This underscores the world-class development of the art of illustration in Taiwan, Tsai added.

Going on to its 51st year, the BolognaRagazzi Award in 2016 received 1,448 submissions from 43 countries worldwide, out of which 24 titles were awarded. Established in 1966, the award is meant to acknowledge and encourage outstanding works of children’s illustrated books from around the globe.


Tsai, who earned a Special Mention for I Can’t See, said the honor was a joyful surprise. The book was based on his own experience as a seriously myopic person. Tsai feels insecure whenever he is without his glasses and feels that visual impairment is one of the most dreaded disabilities. Consequently, he created the story about the fear of a child in the dark and the joy when he recovers vision.

A first-timer at Bologna, Ju Tzu was selected for her illustrations depicting a child with Asperger syndrome in 17th century Netherlands. She submitted this title for competition as it is her best work to date, and she is proud to have taken the initiative and won international recognition for her effort.

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