No Bologna

Not to be outdone by December's book contract news, January has slapped me in the face with yet another dream come true.

Each year at the Bologna Children's Book Fair (the industry's most important professional fair), the organizers set aside exhibition space to show off artwork of illustrators from around the world. At some point during the four-day event, the fair attendees–publishers, art directors, illustrators, etc–amble their way to the gallery, so it's an incredible opportunity for the selected artists to reach an international audience.

It's not easy to get in, however; last year, 2,685 illustrators submitted work, and only 72 were selected. Similar numbers this year, with my illustrations from  Mel Goaté and the Purple Velvet Tuxedo padding the stats. Considering the stunning work being submitted just by my friends, I thought the odds of my musical goat stirring the hearts of the judges were slim.

And maybe they were. But that didn't prevent the judges for selecting my work to be featured in this year's exhibition!

That's right, publishing professionals from around the world are going to be subjected to my terrible puns, and there's nothing they can do about it! They'll even suffer through them again in the Bologna Annual illustration book. And if you think my gags are painfully obscure in the Western Hemisphere, say a prayer for poor Japan, because the exhibition is also touring four Japanese museums. Soon the whole world will know the true meaning of "Bleat, Bahhh & Beyond"!

But seriously, this is a true honor. Every time I look at the illustrations from the book, I remember the endless months I spent detailing each little element, getting the woodgrain right on the victrola, making sure the county fair food glistened with the adequate amount of greasy glory, sitting motionlessly for hours in what could only be described as a pun coma as I devised names for barnyard musicians like Marvin Bray and Pjork, etc. I had no higher aspirations than getting a good grade in my MA course. Obviously, Mel Goaté had bigger plans.

So if you're attending the fair this year and see a tall, lanky Yank with a perpetual look of shock on his face, stop and say hi! Hope to see you there!

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