One of the highlights of the year is always the Frankfurt Book Fair. Even if fewer halls have been used at the fair in recent years, the book fair can still be overwhelming and incredibly exciting.
This year, I couldn't go to opening day on Wednesday, as it was my son's birthday. I went on Thursday, which meant getting up (almost) in the middle of the night to take the earliest possible train from Braunschweig to Frankfurt. Once I arrived, I filed into the long queue to get through security and then went to Hall 3.0.
The Hall 3.0 is the "Holy Hall" of children's publishing. Everything sold over the German's booksellers' counters can be found here. Many young illustrators hope to be "discovered" in this hall by a children's publisher. Already published illustrators can finally get to know their publishing partners in person.
And me? For startets I met with editors of the Silberburg-Verlag, the publishers of my hidden image book "Heidelberg wimmelt", - it was a joyful, family kind of reunion. I had also arranged to meet up with my colleagues, which was a lot of fun. I had talks with potential customers which will hopefully materialize into firm job orders. And I visited the other halls, which is something I consider with growing experience as an illustrator to be very important.
Visiting other halls, which aren't primarily dedicated to children's books, has opened doors to acquisition in other areas. However, just as important as the acquisition of new customers, is becoming inspired by books from other countries.
I looked at the books of my fellow Americans and found them almost uncomfortably slick and colorful, somehow more "commercial" than the European works. I discovered two books from a different country that were screen printed in a limited edition of 2000 copies each... they were very special and very haptic.
I found, however, that the children's books from the Near and Far East attracted me the most. These, even though I could not understand the text, told more about the story than words could express. The children who see these books, might not necessarily understand what it means when a letter joins hands with another. They understand the pictures very well and accept them as a special "truth".
It is this imagery which drives me and of which I want to be inspired by. It is this pictorial language which is already drawing to the next Frankfurt Book Fair - to travel the world in four halls overflowing with books.
Where possible I've tried to include the ISBN-Numbers of the books so that interested readers can find them on the web. The books below are gems from creative colleagues around the globe.