In the last twenty years, the Italian publishing industry has witnessed a flourishing of illustrated children’s books. The publishing houses that have contributed to this process are undoubtedly Orecchio Acerbo, Topipittori and Babalibri, and their model has been followed by other fledgling houses, such as Camelozampa, ZOOlibri and Terre di Mezzo, each enriching the conversation about illustrated books with new examples, starting with books for the very youngest children.
Orecchio Acerbo and Topipittori deserve a special mention, as they are now synonymous with continuous development in terms of the text and imagery, always refining the graphic, typographic and compositional aspects of their books, down to the smallest details. Their products are aimed at a wide range of readers, but in many cases, they wink at adult tastes.
Italy has seen some small revolutions in the way younger children are addressed. The minibombo publishing house, for example, has made graphic and digital language its strong point, experimenting with new ways of approaching childhood; while the publishing house Camelozampa, in just a few years, has become known for its translations of masterpieces of international children’s literature.
LupoGuido Edizioni also draws on foreign literature and has crowned its recent success with a new series, The Illustrators, on which it was advised by Quentin Blake. This demonstrates a desire among publishing houses to become distinctive, differentiating themselves in some way in order to attract the reader. Thus, for many of them, the style of illustration, the size of the format and the compositional choices are as decisive as the choice of text they publish.
There are also publishing houses that now pay particular attention to environmental themes, and to the emotional relationship between childhood and nature. Among these we find Hopi Edizioni, a small publishing house in Rome that does exactly that, also specifically in its choices of printing materials.
This burgeoning market has, however, led to an overproduction of books, which are not always of high quality. Many publishing houses, such as Topipittori, have therefore felt the need to support their editorial production with creative marketing and publicity strategies. Taking advantage of the potential of the internet, they have created blogs, Facebook pages and Instagram profiles, as well as organising promotional events with the support of independent bookstores, all in a bid to increase awareness among readers of the wealth of children’s books now available in Italy.
By Antonella Ranieri
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