When I received an invitation from the US Embassy in Romania to attend International BookFest 2018 or Salonul Internațional de Carte, I was super excited! Not only was I picked as one of the four honorary authors to represent the country fostering US-Romania relations at this esteemed book event, I would also get a chance to travel to Romania – a place I had been wanting to visit for about 3 years since I started working on Beato Goes To series.
The 5-day long BookFest was held at RomeExpo in Bucharest, a bustling city with French, Soviet and Arabic influences. Being one of the largest book festivals in the world, there were thousands of publishers, bookstores, agents and authors at the convention center.
The Official opening of the Bookfest International Book Fair, XIII edition was a big affair and full of journalists. Keynote addresses were made by Klaus Iohannis – President of Romania, E.S. Hans Klemm – U.S. Ambassador to Romania, George Ivașcu (TBC) – Minister of Culture and National Identity, Grigore Arsene – President of the Association of Romanian Publishers.
The theme of the US Pavilion was southern authors. Some of our greatest authors come from the South – Mark Twain, Flannery O’Connor, Alice Walker, Harper Lee, William Faulkner – to name just a few.” Based on this theme, the authors selected this year were – Sarah Kennedy a poet, novelist and professor of writing and literature from Indiana; Romania born, Virginia native Domnica Radulescu, novelist and professor of Comparative Literature; and Sucheta Rawal, author of Beato Goes To children’s books who is originally from India and living in Atlanta, GA.
Though most of the books at the festival were in Romanian, there were a few in English as well. I saw a huge selection of books for children. Our books were sold by one of Romania’s largest booksellers Cărturești.
Each of us also talked about our books and answered the audience’s questions. My talk happened to be on June 1st, which is Children’s Day in Romania. The national holiday is celebrated by pampering kids with gifts, candy and fun activities. You could see families hanging out in parks, going to shows, shopping, enjoying pastries and ice cream and all over Bucharest that day.
Here’s me reading a few pages from Beato Goes To Greenland….
Another first for me at this event was meeting my illustrator and manager in person for the first time! Beato Goes To illustrator Alexandra Abagiu flew from Cluj to Bucharest to attend the event. 27 year old Alexandra cannot hear or speak since birth, but she expresses herself through sketches. I truly believe she is one of the most talented illustrators I’ve ever seen. She came with her mom and made her very first public appearance.
People who purchased Beato Goes To books got an autograph from both the author Sucheta Rawal and Romanian illustrator Alexandra Abagiu for the very first time.
Deveo Media Studio manager Ciprian Baldean also came for the book festival and talked to the audience about how he hires illustrators, what they get paid and how the creative process works. He currently employs 18 people to sketch, color, animate and develop apps for children’s books.
BookFest 2018 was well attended by people from all walks of life looking to read more and learn about the authors behind the books. I felt people in Romania were curious and wanted to instill the same values in their kids. Also, I learned they traveled a lot more than we do in the US which is probably why Beato Goes To books appealed to them.
After the event, I flew to Cluj to meet with rest of my team and then traveled around Romania with MyRomania.