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Journalist and content creator Roberta Franceschetti walks us through the multimedia projects submitted for this year's BRAW Crossmedia, showing us once again that great stories know no boundaries.
Now in its second year, the BolognaRagazzi CrossMedia Award confirms the centrality of books to the universe of childhood, exploring new narrative forms as book content migrates from the page to TV, cinema, interactive screens, video games and audio podcasts or, vice versa, content conceived in other media ecosystems becomes books.
The Bologna Children’s Book Fair reformulated the BolognaRagazzi Digital Award, broadening its scope and strengthening its links to the book world by establishing the BolognaRagazzi CrossMedia Award (BRCMA) in partnership with Mamamò. This year, the competition attracted more than eighty nominations from twenty-seven different countries. An international jury selected ten shortlisted candidates, ultimately awarding four special mentions and picking one overall winner.
The long-standing link between children’s publishing and the audio-visual world is clear from numerous adaptations of children’s books for the big and small screen. Special mention-winning British animated short The Tiger who Came to Tea is based on the children’s classic written and illustrated by Judith Kerr, first published by HarperCollins in 1968. The jury considered this work a benchmark for anyone keen to port a children’s literature classic to the screen, “respectful of the wonderful original yet somehow able to bring the characters to life, conveying the paper-based illustrations’ sensibilities while projecting on-screen what the reader can only imagine when reading the story.”
The shortlist also features Flora & Ulysses, a Disney feature that stays true to the unparalleled humour of Kate DiCamillo’s successful novel of the same name, and an animated TV series based on another children’s literature classic, Ernest & Célestine, the second film of which is expected to be released some time this coming year. Other shortlisted titles were The Most Magnificent Thing, a 3D animated short film based on the Ashley Spires book published by Kids Can Press, an inspirational story for creative girls determined to do great things in the field of tinkering, which is all too often considered the preserve of boys.
Some projects travelled in the opposite direction, that is, from screen to paper. Award-winning Korean stop-motion short Battery Daddy became a 40-page picture book, thanks to a series of production stills painstakingly shot by the authors to enrich the film-to-book transformation. A worthy winner of the BRCMA, French production Les quatre nouvelles saisons d’en sortant de l’école Vol.2 is a series by young videomakers fresh out of French animation school, who, inspired by the poems of authors such as de Roy, Tardieu, Verlaine, and Chedid, created a series of animated short films that were collected together to create an illustrated book. Published by Thierry Magnier, the book perfectly interprets the spirit of the project, offering valuable insights into translating the variety of emotions and illustrative techniques of animation onto the printed page.
The vitality of audio in the cross-media expansion of children’s titles was confirmed once again this year with a large number of podcasts and radio series. This market segment continues to grow on the back of a massive boost in popularity during the pandemic. The podcast that most impressed the jury, so much so that it won a special mention, is the illustrated book Sulla sfortunata vita dei vermi by Noemi Viola, published by Corraini. Not only did the podcast preserve the original and ironic spirit of the paper text, its design enriched the narrative with additional information and a series of interviews with scientists, entomologists, writers and cooks, at all times bearing in mind that children are the target audience.
A special mention also went to French app Un point c’est tout, adapted from a book by Xavier Deneux. Published by Editions Milan, it is accessible on Bayam. Publisher Bayard’s digital content platform for children, Bayam is a benchmark for high-quality interactive children’s content. Subscription-based digital libraries of children’s content were, once again this year, a noteworthy trend, with a number of platforms emerging for this 2022 edition of the Fair that, in addition to texts in digital format, offer children and schools a series of accessibility features (such as audio readings and translation into sign language), and teaching aids (including an option for teachers to assign reading objectives, manage their classes, include gamification elements, and monitor student progress).
A focus on inclusivity, particularly gender and disability equality, and interculturalism featured in a number of candidate projects, including Intraducibles from Mexico, to which the jury awarded a special mention. Encompassing a book, website, and street art in several Mexican city plazas, it seeks to preserve linguistic richness – something many fear imperilled by digital culture – by harnessing these self-same media to engage audiences in both the virtual sphere and physical plazas, reaching out to people who would not normally have access to books.
A shortlisted French project by the Centre de créations pour l’enfance de Tinqueux is another cross-media success. Pages d’Arbres delves into man’s relationship with nature through the universal archetype of the tree, in a project that embraces a number of different media: an enriched digital book in web book format, a collection of illustrated poems, a soundtrack, a giant pop-up tree, and a mural that exploits augmented reality. The ensemble forms a travelling exhibition that invites visitors to discover twenty-two trees and seven forests around the world, offering a unique multi-sensory experience for each specific forest type.
the BolognaRagazzi CrossMedia Award confirms the centrality of books to the universe of childhood, exploring new narrative forms as book content migrates from the page to TV, cinema, interactive screens, video games and audio podcasts or, vice versa, content conceived in other media ecosystems becomes books.
Roberta Franceschetti has been working in children's media for the past 15 years. She co-founded Mamamò, a website that promotes media education for children, and ContentMakers, a creative studio that produces multi-platform contents for kids. A journalist and content creator, she graduated in literature and earned a Master of Arts at the Royal College of Art, London and a postgraduate specialization in digital publishing at the Politecnico di Milano. Roberta has written the books Youtuber. Manuale per aspiranti creatori, a children's guide to Youtube and videomaking, and Educare ai nuovi media. Percorsi di cittadinanza digitale per l'educazione civica. She's also co-author of the story of the animated series MeteoHeroes. She lives by the seaside in Southern Italy with her husband, her son Gabriele and two cats.