Nouneh Sarkissian’s Book ‘The Adventures of Bluey And Pinky’ was Presented at the Library of Bologna University

Every spring, thousands of book lovers and book publishers gather in the Italian city of Bologna to participate in an exclusive celebration, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. The fair was held for the 60th time this year (March 6-9). The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) was participating in the fair.

Bologna Children’s Book Fair turns into a colourful and unique place every time, where famous publishing houses, writers, illustrators, translators present their works. People interested in the field, authors and readers get the opportunity to study and discover constantly changing and the improving, multi-layered and unique world of children’s literature.

Conferences, discussions, presentations, book readings, and many other events are organized within the framework of the fair.

This year at this important literary event Armenia was presented by Nouneh Sarkissian, children’s author and wife of the Fourth President of the Republic of Armenia Armen Sarkissian, Ruzan Tonoyan the director of the National Children’s Library named after Khnko Aper and Emin Mkrtchyan the executive director of ‘Zangak’ publishing house.

On March 8th the presentation of Nouneh Sarkissian’s book ‘The Adventures of Bluey and Pinky’ took place in the Armenian pavilion of the fair. This book is published in Armenian, English, Italian and Arabic.

During the presentation Nouneh Sarkissian’s 10-year-old granddaughter, Savannah Sarkissian, who is the co-author and illustrator of the book said: ‘I am excited to be here today to share my love of books with other bookworms and talk about the importance of being…a bookworm!’. Remembering how her grandmother grew a passion for books from her young age, making her a participant in many adventurous episodes and stories Savannah said: ‘We played with colours, and characters. She made me laugh and filled me with joy. Soon, together we created two wonderful characters. A blue hippopotamus and a pink mouse.

I wish all children could have the opportunity to write and smile and share ideas with their grandparents or parents. It will help to strengthen their imagination and their bond with their families.’

She noted that her love for stories and reading helped her a lot during the Covid-19 pandemic: ‘I was able to escape the annoying glowing screen of my laptop during remote learning, and see the smiling faces of my book’s main characters instead.’ – said Savannah. She also told about her great goal, which she hopes to achieve with the next book of ‘The Adventures of Bluey and Pinky’ series about the main characters of the story – Bluey and Pinky, where they will travel from Great Britain to Armenia, and thereby create a unique connection with Armenian children.

Noting that together with her grandmother they have gone through many journeys with the blue hippo and pink mouse, from the living room at age two to today at age ten in Bologna, Savannah said, ‘Without reading books, our imagination would have never been sparked and none of this would have ever happened. That is why I believe that it is very important to be a bookworm!’.

On March 9, Nouneh Sarkissian participated in the IBBY European Regional Conference – Finding a Safe Home in Books. The purpose of the conference is to protect the right of every child to become a reader and to convey the message that no child is alone, no matter what kind of moments of fear, doubt, loss, or mistrust they are experiencing. The participants of the conference also spoke about the important role of books in children’s development.

Ruzan Tonoyan, director of the National Children’s Library named after Khnko Aper, emphasizes the importance of Armenia’s participation in similar events, noting: ‘Bologna Children’s Book Fair is a very important platform for the promotion of reading because it is the largest and perhaps the only book market in the world where children’s literature and illustrations from different countries are presented.’

Ruzan Tonoyan, who is also the director of the Armenian Section of the International Board of Books for Young People (IBBY), notes that every year they also implement numerous activities for promoting reading among children and young people, which they also presented in the framework of the fair.

According to the information provided by Ruzan Tonoyan, the Armenian Section of IBBY has nominated Nouneh Sarkissian for the most important prize in the field of children’s literature, the Hans Christian Andersen Award (2024). The Hans Christian Andersen Award is the highest international recognition given to an author and an illustrator of children’s books. According to Ruzan Tonoyan, Nouneh Sarkissian was included in the Honour List as one of the best children’s writers in Armenia.

Emin Mkrtchyan, executive director of the ‘Zangak’ publishing house, emphasized the importance of Armenia’s participation in the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, specifying that it is the most important event in the field of children’s literature and illustrators in the world. He considers it significant that after a break of several years, Armenia has again participated in that large fair, although this year it did not have a large pavilion.

During the days of the fair, the Armenian delegation visited Bologna University. Founded in the eleventh century (1066), this educational centre is considered the oldest permanently functioning university in Europe. It is one of the best educational institutions in the world.

The members of the Armenian delegation met with Professor Anna Sirinian, head of the Department of Armenian Language and Literature of the University of Bologna. They visited the university library, where ancient Armenian books and manuscripts are stored, and got acquainted with the unique examples of Armenian literary heritage. Professor Anna Sirinian presented the unique examples of the first Armenian printed books, as well as a copy of the famous map of Armenian monasteries and sanctuaries (1691) by Yeremia Chelebi Kyomurjian. The library of the University of Bologna also has a section for children’s books. Savannah Sarkissian donated to the library the Italian translation of her book ‘The Adventures of Bluey and Pinky’, which will be presented among the library’s newly received books.