Hen&inkblots: A Literary Blog

From SCBWI Winchester conference to the Salon du Livre Jeunesse in Montreuil (Paris, France) with Bridget Marzo

December 3, 2012 by Erzsi Deak

The buzz from SCBWI Winchester conference is still ringing in my head:  Debi Gliori’s heartfelt keynote speech and workshop,  Eric Huang’s enlightening explanation of Transmedia, hosted and reported on by Nick Cross,  useful branding tips from author Justin Somper and PJ Norman of Author Profile, performance training from school visitor extraordinaire Steve Hartley, author-actor Mo O’Hara, and finally the best ever group book launch hosted by the inimitable  Lin Oliver co-founder of SCBWI.

Three days later I was on a (thankfully restful) train to Paris, preparing for more buzz at the Salon du Livre et de la Presse Jeunesse, the French national kids book fair.

Hilarious comic illustrator, author and cartoonist friend Sally Kindberg who is also published by Bloomsbury, came with me —  an ideal travel companion.

We lodged close to the fair thanks to another friend, the illustrious Doug Cushman, fellow author and illustrator at Hen and ink Literary Studio.

When we arrived Doug was painting a watercolour of an owl in his Paris studio.


A couple of hours later Sally and I went to the grand opening of the French kids book fair.

Sally took a pic of me in my spotty jacket.  I’m holding a pile of bumpf about the fair.  Imagine over 300 children’s publishers showing their year’s output and more, in stands across two huge floors.  Well over 150, 000 visitors brave the trip into Montreuil, an eastern suburb of Paris to look at books and attend events for kids and publishing pros. 

I’ll confess I  blogged last year too, enthusing about this mecca for illustrators, authors, kids and book lovers. I just can’t resist going on about it!  What is it about this particular children’s book fair that stands out from any other?

One big difference is that kids can attend, not just the industry pros.

They come with their parents or schools armed with a few euros. They queue up to watch illustrators and authors sign their books. There’s a buzz around books which older kids notice.  Yes, it’s cool to look at books.

Another feeling you get strongly here is real pride in the produce. It speaks for itself. There’s not so much glitzy corporate marketing and hard sell. Yet it’s a fair that seems to help even the smallest publishers survive. From the huge variety of books and inventive formats it seems they can afford to take risks and publish the books they love. This year it was great to see Nobrow come from London who also take pride in publishing stand-out books.

Sally loved this beaked tight rope walker on the wall of a publisher’s stand.
ish we had noted the book it was from – anyone know? 

The opening night is not all about bribery with food and drink..

Little girl and appetizers at one send of the Tourbillon stand
wine and tasty canapés at the Bayard stand -where there was a real buzz this year…

Aside from incredible standard of art in French kids books, and the daring formats and subjects, there is more than enough to entice children, parents, librarians and booksellers into buying mounds of books before Christmas…

A book of historical maps to make kids love maps forever
one shelf in the BD (comic / graphic novel) section
Telling kids stories of  WW2
from publisher Rue du Monde
for teens, a newspaper-like fantasy in pictures
“What are swear words?” asks this article in a Bayard kid’s magazine(Not sure such graphic visuals would be tolerated in some other countries I can think of!)

The day after, I took Sally to my French publishers, Bayard. They’ve moved to a huge modern building south of Paris in the suburb of Montrouge. It’s a long walk from the book publishing end to the magazine end of the building. As we got to the offices of Belles Histoires and Tralalire, I noticed a couple of old posters I’d done a while ago were up on the walls.

Check-out the washing line of illustrations up in the Belles Histories / Tralalire offices!

And here is Sally again, with Marianne Vilcoq, an illustrator herself and the hard-working Belles Histoires art director — just before we took off.    


My only regret is I didn’t have time to catch up with more friends in Paris.  Still Sally and I had a hilarious meal at L’Atmosphère by the Canal St Martin, with some of the other Hen and ink authors and illustrators, Jeanne de Sainte MarieSarah TowleMina Witteman from Amsterdam,  and also a recent SCBWI member, Jion Shebani whose portfolio I had admired a few days before at the Winchester conference.



Bridget Strevens-Marzo 
Bridget Strevens-Marzo is an illustrator-author who combines her love of color, painting and play in creating books for younger children. She is sought out for her talent for inventing visual sub-stories, with warm, lively and original characters such as the little hippo in the award-winning international co-edition, Kiss, Kiss! (Little Hare/Egmont/ Simon & Schuster US) and her cast of animals in her French children songs and in Bridget’s Book of Nursery Rhymes. She is also at home with both story and concept books. Her graphic The Big Book for Little Hands (Bayard/Tate Gallery UK/ Abrams US) was shortlisted for the British Book Design Award, and the most recent US/UK book she illustrated, Mini Racer (Bloomsbury), added another star to a good collection of reviews. Bridget also enjoys weaving her own stories and playful paths around pictures. She has learnt from working in an international children’s multimedia start-up and later for Bayard Press that working with a publishing team is like having a party with a purpose. She also enjoys sharing her work with young and old at book events and workshops across the world.