Champagne in Shanghai!
Exhibiting at the Shanghai Children’s Book Fair was never in our plans. Frankfurt, yes, with its highly established, international Book Fair but Shanghai, half way across the world? Not in our wildest dreams.
And yet after 11 flying hours and 3 and a half in-flight movies, here we were. The Pearl of the Orient beneath our feet and the prospect of 3 days at the inaugural Shanghai Children’s Book Fair before us. It was exotic, exciting (and extremely smoggy).
Of course it’s easy to see the rationale behind our visit. China has 200 million children, all hungry for good books. They want them in English as well as in Chinese and they want them educational and entertaining. Doting parents want nothing but the best for their only children and the second largest economy in the world shows no sign of slowing its remarkable growth.
So the opportunites are clear.
During the next 3 days we had many meetings with prospective agents, bookshop buyers, libraries and publishers. Our books were roundly praised and we were assured our ‘style’ should be well liked out here. We left feeling deals were in the pipeline and the beginning of fruitful relationships forged. It was fascinating, hectic and everything we hoped it could be.
No, it was more than that. For to top it all we were awarded the Golden Pinwheel award for best International children’s book, for Oh, What a Tangle!, written by Anita Pouroulis and illustrated by Monika Filipina Trzpil. A jury of prestigious publishing folk including Maria Jesus Gil, the President of the Hans Christian Anderson award 2014, had selected our book for this honour. What a humbling and wonderful experience!
Away from the Fair, we found Shanghai to be a fascinating city where organized chaos reigns – traffic light signals operate more as suggestions here than as commands. Great wealth and great poverty live side by side much as the old shanty towns and the skyscrapers do. The people we encountered were courteous and welcoming. We hope to be back at the nearest opportunity.