“During confinement, families bet on safe books rather than on novelties”

Last year, the Montreuil (Seine-Saint-Denis) Youth Book and Press Fair could not be held face-to-face, due to the Covid-19. But it had taken place via programs broadcast on television. This year, despite the fifth wave, it opens its doors this Wednesday and until Monday for its 37th edition. However, a health pass for over 12s will be required to enter. The opportunity for young readers and their parents to discover authors or to satisfy their passion for some they already love. For 20 minutes, Sylvie Vassallo, director of the show, analyzes current trends in children’s literature.

Last year, the show did not take place face to face. Do you foresee an influx of visitors for this long-awaited new edition?

There will be an element of surprise, but what is certain is that many school groups have registered and the pre-sales of tickets to families on our site have worked well. All the booths of the show are full, because the publishers have returned, even if a few are fragile. This year, 300 libraries and 150 bookstores are our partners, which makes it possible to have a good relay of the event. We will also broadcast programs throughout the show from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on TNT channel 34: interviews with authors, broadcast of web-series …

Has the health crisis led to the emergence of new young readers?

The number of young readers is increasing and their weekly reading time has also increased over the past year and a half. Because due to confinements and health restrictions, they had more time to devote to reading. But we must not proclaim victory too early and wait to see if these new habits are perpetuated over time. For the time being, in France, one in four books sold concerns the youth segment.

Which albums are the most successful with the little ones?

Classics like Little Brown bear by Claude Lebrun, Little beasts from Antoon Kings, T’choupi by Thierry Courtin. And also Love by Astrid Debordes and Pauline Martin, The color of emotions by Anna Llenas …

What about 6-10 year olds?

Several comics like Mortal Adele Antoine Dole (alias Mr Tan), Ariol by Marc Boutavant and Emmanuel Guibert, Max and Lili by Dominique de Saint-Mars and Serge Bloch, Titeuf by Zep, The Cherry Notebooks by Aurélie Neyret and Joris Chamblain, The legendaries by Patrick Sobral… Without forgetting Asterix and the Griffin by Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad, the 39th album of the series released October 21! Several novels have also been very successful: The Ickabog by JK Rowling, Jack and the Great Adventure of the Christmas Pig by the same author, the first Harry Potter, always, and Arsène Lupine, Burglar Gentleman by Maurice Leblanc. Many titles that were already doing well in previous years have seen their success confirmed. No doubt because the brothers and sisters are more than ever transmitters of literary tastes. And during confinement, families bet on safe books rather than going for novelty.

Do you see a greater place for heroines?

Debates around feminism permeate children’s literature. The new generation of authors showcases female characters and gives pride of place to girl-boy relationships. Because children’s literature is a space where the upheavals of the world are felt: the theme of the environment is also very present, whether in documentary books, but also in fiction. Just like that of animal protection, as in Jefferson by Jean-Claude Mourlevat.

Regarding fiction for teens, what are the flagship titles of the moment?

Queen kong by Hélène Vignal, who evokes the first sexual emotions, Polly by Fabrice Melquiot and Isabelle Pralong who tells the story of an intersex child, Miettes by Stéphane Servant, who addresses the issue of bullying, Alma by Timothée de Fombelle. Influencers are also enjoying great success at the end of the year, such as Norman with his book My drawings, Kate Livio, with The incredible story of the Sisters Alipour and singer Bilal Hassani, with Jjong (a science fiction series).

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And in terms of manga, have there been any revelations this year?

The classics Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto and One piece Eiichirō Oda continue to hit the mark. In the news department, I can quote Blue Lock by Muneyuki Kaneshiro and Yuusuke Nomura, Kaguya-sama from Aka Akasaka, Tokyo Revengers by Ken Wakui and Kaiju by Naoya Matsumoto.

The youth press also seems to be in very good shape …

It has nine million young readers and has not been impacted by the health crisis, because three quarters of the titles arrive by subscription. At the show, 68 youth titles will be represented. Among these will be the market leaders: I like to read, Apple ofAPI and Junior Life Sciences. And 70 children’s magazines have seen the light of day this year. This proves the good health of the sector.

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