I’m in Canada at present (Halifax to be precise with Montreal to come). I’ve just read Tim Holmes pondering when teenagers switch from print to digital media. It tweaked a nerve that had been awoken at an exhibition of books that have won Alcuin Society design awards (at NSCAD university – well worth a visit).

Picking up the winner in the children’s category – When You Were Small – immediately had me sitting at home reading to one of my kids when they were small. The book – and hence reading – forms an emotional bond between infant and parent that no computer has yet come near to breaking.

Yet, the judges’ comments seemed to deny the emotion that books engender. The comments were very dry, discussing the typography and half-titles, but they gave the game away in one section when they discussed a title not being as ‘exciting’ as others. And the in-your-face vividness of the illustrations by Joe Morse in Casey at the Bat was, for me, a strength in terms of appealing to a teen audience bought up a the so-solid world of Banksy’s grafitti.

The show moves on to several Canadian cities before the winners represent Canada at the Leipzig and Hanover book fairs next year.   

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