IBBY UK Chair’s Report April 2014 – March 2015

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This is my first report as Chair of IBBY UK, a position that I took up after the AGM in June last year. It is a great privilege to follow in Clive’s footsteps and to take over at a time when so much work has been done to build on the legacy of the London Congress in 2012. Our aims for the year were to continue to build this legacy and strengthen the relationships that IBBY has within the children’s book world, remembering that it is the international dimension that is our special quality. Our focus was particularly on two issues which both have become increasingly in focus and under discussion this year: diversity in children’s publishing and translation, particularly in terms of books translated into English.

We have concentrated on building our networks and contacts within the world of children’s publishing, within the academic world and with various key organisations such as Seven Stories in Newcastle (following the launch of Diverse Voices), with the Hive in Worcester, the Oxford Story Museum, the English Speaking Union, the British Council, Outside In World and the Booksellers Association. We hope that this will also lead to an increase in membership and have set up a small sub-group of the main committee to work on these planning issues. As ever, we have to balance our income, which is mainly from membership fees, Christmas card sales and the conference against the costs of membership of IBBY and related costs associated with awards and events.

IBBY Congress 2104, September, Mexico

This was a high spot of the year for those who attended but has also provided new opportunities for IBBY in the UK. We were aware that Mexico was to be the market focus at the London Book Fair in April 2015 so we made considerable efforts to meet a range of Mexican children’s publishers and make an assessment of their work, so that we could work with them and IBBY Mexico to promote their work at the LBF.

The result of the Mexican trip has been a strong presence at the Fair; a series of meetings with UK publishers to show some of the books / illustrators that most impressed us; displays of the books at the Roehampton conference in November and in a London school where the students were going to work with Francisco Hinojosa, the Mexican ambassador for Children’s Literature; and a wonderful gallery of Mexican illustrators on the Guardian Children’s books website.

We were able to offer three bursaries to IBBY members to go to Mexico as well as provide some financial assistance to three others, using funds set aside for this from the London Congress. We hosted a small reception for the UK delegates in Mexico at the beginning of the Congress, which provided support for attendees as well as being great fun. Three papers were accepted from those we supported as well as two poster sessions. It was overall an extraordinary experience to be part of a community of 900 people all sharing the same passion about the power of children’s literature to change lives. The authors / illustrators we met or heard doing presentations were of extraordinary quality and yet unknown to us, so this strengthened our resolve to promote children’s books and illustrators from around the world to try to encourage more import or translation within the UK.

We are delighted to be able to offer two bursaries for the next IBBY Congress in 2016 in New Zealand and these have just been advertised. We hope again to have a strong UK presence in New Zealand.

Promoting the work of IBBY and international links

IBBY produces a number of key publications that result from nominations from the 80 plus member countries and are therefore key resource 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. We make our own nominations for the UK representation in these lists but now want to promote the collections more widely in the UK. The Honour List is divided into three categories (Writing, Translation and Illustration). We currently have the Illustration section of this collection in the UK and it is touring various organisations. We have asked for feedback about ways in which the collection could be used in the UK if we set this up as a regular programme.

We have had a record six of our nominated UK titles selected for inclusion in the 2015 Disabilities list:

Off to the Park by Stephen Cheatham (Child’s Play)

Max the Champion by Sean Stockdale, Alexandra Strick and Ros Asquith ( Frances Lincoln)

Shh! We have a Plan by Chris Haughton (Walker Books)

Freddie and the Fairy by Julia Donaldson and Karen George (Macmillan)

Klaus Vogel and the Bad Lads by David Almond (Barrington Stoke)

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner (Hot Key Books)

We hope to make arrangements for this collection to visit the UK and to develop a programme for it to tour relevant organisations in the next year. It was the highlight of the IBBY stand in Bologna and attracted much interest.

Ferelith Hordon was appointed to the IBBY Executive at the General Assembly meeting in Mexico in September and we are very pleased to have UK representation on this body. Ferelith will be focusing on work with the European IBBY group, particularly the website and newsletter.

We have been working with Piet Grobler of Worcester University, (where he has established the International Centre for the Picture Book in Society), to ensure that UK illustrators take part in the Bratislava Biennial Children’s Illustrators competition. Our UK selection will be announced shortly and we are delighted to be helping promote a competition which is internationally prestigious but little known in the UK. We are also delighted to announce that Piet has just been announced as one of the judges for the 2015 competition.

On a sadder note we were all devastated by the destruction of the IBBY funded libraries in Palestine in July last year during the period of Israeli aggression. At great speed and with much support from Beverley Naidoo, we were able to get a letter published in The Guardian which was signed by 90 plus authors, librarians, publishers and academics to draw attention to this. The IBBY Sharjah and Children in Crisis funds will be used towards the rebuilding of these libraries but we have also started to fundraise to help this programme.

We are still keen to develop a twinning relationship with the Philippines Board on Books for Young People but there has been no further progress to report this year.

Awards and nominations

During this year, we have consulted members on our IBBY nominations for various awards. We currently await the news of the new UK Children’s Laureate, which will be announced in June. Our nomination for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2015 was Letterbox Library, who sadly were unsuccessful, but many thanks to those who helped prepare the dossier for submission.

We are currently working on the Hans Christian Andersen Awards for 2016. We have selected Elizabeth Laird for the author nomination and Chris Riddell for the illustrator, and were delighted to see that both are on the Carnegie Greenaway shortlists this year. Clive and Carol are coordinating the dossiers that have to be prepared, so many thanks to them and to Julia Eccleshare and Piet Grobler who have contributed the critical appreciations for Elizabeth and Chris.

2014 – 2015 Events Programme and Conference

New committee member, Nikki Marsh, has taken over the co-ordination of our events programme and we are very grateful for her wide-ranging contacts which will help with partnership working. .

In June, with Walker Books, IBBY UK hosted the launch of the second volume of Vango by Timothee de Fombelle, translated by Sarah Ardizzone. The author and translator joined a panel chaired by Alexandra Strick of Outside In World with YA writer Lydia Syson and Walker publishing director Jane Winterbotham to discuss the theme  ‘Interpreting war for younger readers’.

In October, in partnership with Abrams Chronicle, we organised an event in Waterstones in Piccadilly to look at whether ‘humour translates across the pond’. This was chaired by Emily Drabble of the Guardian Children’s Books site, with a panel of Louise Rennison and Jim Smith with Jon Scieszka, who was on a book promotion tour in the UK.

In March a number of IBBY committee members were invited to a breakfast discussion on children’s literature with the Swedish ambassador. She is keen to promote the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in the UK. This was followed by the Bologna Book Fair where there were many IBBY UK members in evidence.

The annual IBBY / NCRCL conference was held at Roehampton on 8th November 2014 and was on the theme of Belonging… an exploration of the right to be included and the barriers that must be overcome. This was a wide-ranging topic and resulted in some fascinating papers. The IBBY UK delegation to Mexico also gave a short update on their experiences.

Website, newsletter and IBBYLink

Under Sophie Hallam’s editorial control the website has become one of our main means of communicating with our members. There are still technical restraints holding back our plans, but the year has seen much progress. Sophie has also coordinated our increased social media presence on Facebook and Twitter and encouraged the use of Blogs to record events. She has established a timetable for a regular newsletter to be sent to all members, which is supplemented by occasional updates.

Ferelith has provided excellent leadership in her editing of the IBBYLink journal, which now focuses on its topic and does not include news and other items, as these are on the website. Three issues have been produced during the year: 40 on information books, Facts rather than Fiction; 41 on the theme Bridging the Gap; and 42 is the record of the November conference, but includes a wider range of papers on the Belonging theme. The current issue of IBBYLink is always available on the website but all previous issues are only accessible in the Members’ area.

IBBY Christmas Card and the new Membership leaflet

Once again John and Hilary Dunne have managed the design and distribution of the annual Christmas card, which is now part of the annual calendar and a major source of income. This year’s card was designed for us by Axel Scheffler and has sold well both at conferences and by mail order. Packs of earlier cards also sell well.

A new leaflet to attract members has been produced during the year and was ready for the London Book Fair.

IBBY UK committee and changes

It has been a great help to work with an established committee this year as there has been so much going on. We were very sad that Michele Gill had to leave the committee for family reasons but were able to welcome Rebecca Butler. The other committee members are Pam Dix (Chair), John Dunne (Secretary), Susan Bailes (Vice Chair), Sue Mansfield (Treasurer and Membership), Judith Philo (Minutes), Clive Barnes, Beth Cox, Sophie Hallam, Jennifer Harding, Ferelith Hordon, Ann Lazim, Anna McQuinn, Nikki Marsh, Carol Thompson.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank each of them for the work that they have done. In addition to the work already mentioned, the filing with both Companies House and the Charity Commission has been completed by Sue and Clive and the organisation of the November Conference and preparation of dossiers for awards are the result of team efforts.

Looking forward to the year ahead…

Pam Dix, April 2015

 

 

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