Argentina is a land of book lovers if the stats are anything to go by. In 2014, the World Cities Culture Forum found that Buenos Aires was home to no fewer than 467 bookstores, making it the city with highest density of bookshops per citizen in the world. The Argentine capital also hosts an annual International Book Fair in April-May, which lasts for around three weeks. In 2017, the fair welcomed 1,200,200 visitors through its doors.
Children’s publishing is big business. According to Publishing Perspectives it represented 22% of the total market in 2013. Sales mainly rely on government purchases, with the National Government and the Government of the City of Buenos Aires among the biggest customers. A Children’s Book Fair has been organised each year for the last 25 years, with the aim of encouraging a love of reading from an early age. Argentina also has an active IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) Section, which promotes the research and assessment of quality children’s and young adult books, as well as participating in a number of special projects throughout the year.
Children’s books from Argentina are gaining more worldwide attention. In 2008 Argentina was guest of honour at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. In 2012, renowned children’s author María Teresa Andruetto won the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award and in May 2013, author/illustrator Isol Misenta won the world’s largest children’s literature prize, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.
I have chosen three picture books by three contemporary Argentine children’s authors. Purely by chance, they all happen to be published by Canadian publishing house, Groundwood Books which has an exceptional list of unusual titles from around the world.
Stephen and the Beetle, by Jorge Luján, illustrated by Chiara Carrer, translated by Elisa Amado (Groundwood Books, 2012)
What There Is Before There Is Anything There: A Scary Story, by Liniers, translated by Elisa Amado (Groundwood Books, 2014)
Petit, the Monster, by Isol, translated by Elisa Amado (Groundwood Books, 2010)
I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.[Image: Perito Moreno Glacier, Los Glaciares National Park, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. Source: www.canva.com]