Kinderland is a publisher specialized in picture books, which also owns the brand “Bandal.” Every book it produces is creative and refreshing. Most of its authors are newly debuted, as Kinderland pursues making books that can be embraced across generations by taking new challenges and various perspectives. Below is an interview with Kinderland and Bandal which have won the Bologna Ragazzi Award, the most prestigious award in children’s books in the world, several times since 2015.
Logos of Kinderland and Bandal
Could you please introduce Kinderland and Bandal to our subscribers?
Kinderland began with the aim to publish books for children and is today importing picture books from other countries and making picture books, children’s books, non-fiction books, and educational books here in Korea. We’ve grown to focus more on making creative picture books, which led to the establishment of “Bandal,” hoping it could serve as a channel for all generations to enjoy picture books together.
The name “Bandal (ban means half, and dal means the moon)” refers to the two halves each shared by the picture books made by us and the authors and our readers. In other words, the picture books we make are merely a half-moon. It can ultimately become a full moon when there is someone reading them and feeling empathy within them.
The goal and basic foundation of Bandal were to look at picture books as an independent genre and make one that can best deliver the diverse characteristics of picture books.
As such, Bandal believes that only when a story that we wish to share with our readers along with the like-minded authors, can there be a meaningful title born in the world. And we will continuously work to introduce these books to global readers.
Could you please introduce some of the best books of Kinderland and Bandal to our readers?
We believe that every book of Kinderland and Bandal is the best, but to pick some, we would like to introduce works that won the Bologna Ragazzi Award and were exported to other countries. <The Little Wall> was the first book from us to win the award. Also, <A Sweet Potato>, <A Moon Rabbit, a Tortoise, And a Squid>, <Red>, <The Chirrup>, and <Burned Toast> are some of our outstanding books that pursue our values.
Meanwhile, <Blue Duck> that was exported to 7 countries, including Italy, France, and Spain, is also another best work of ours. It’s been awarded overseas while being listed as a book-to-read in libraries. In addition, <We are here in the zoos> and <63 Days> that talk about animal rights are works that helped us realize how we could understand and empathize with our readers while delivering our philosophical values, as they were created together with the readers in conveying the core message inside them.
<A Sweet Potato>, <A Moon Rabbit, a Tortoise, And a Squid>, <Burned Toast>
<Blue Duck>, <We are here in the zoos>
What is the thing that Bandal prioritizes when it comes to selecting authors and publishing books?
Most of the books we have published are by new authors. Many titles are the first work of our writers, and there are also those who had been working in other fields of illustration but have first published a picture book or those that have just a few titles published until then. Creating new things is never an easy thing to do. Making picture books is actually time-consuming and arduous. Also, the author’s view of the world is greatly reflected in his or her first book. Bandal will always be encouraging our authors to have various world views and make new attempts. In this sense, we would like to have our doors open for authors that take new challenges. So we believe that the things we value the most are “the world views of the writers” and “new challenges.”
We are open to authors who are willing to make new attempts.
<The Little Wall>, <Tree, Dancing>, <Who Are You?> and <A Shadow> won the Bologna Ragazzi Award. Could you tell us about those works and how you felt when they won the award?
<The Little Wall> was honored with the Special Mention in the Fiction category in 2015, <Tree, Dancing> won the New Horizons award in 2018, while <Who Are You?> and <A Shadow> were selected as Special Mentions in the Opera Prima category in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
<The Little Wall> is meaningful to us in that it made a good start for Bandal as it won the award just 2 years after Bandal was established. We believe that it is a picture book that well depicts a kid playing along the wall with a little scent of Korean atmosphere. Also, <Tree, Dancing> is a unique and artistic piece with its length 15 meters when spread out wide. It shows another universe that we cannot see underneath the bottom of a tree, which is a good representation of the author’s idea about life. Meanwhile, after reading <Who Are You?>, you will be able to realize that the book was trying to present itself as a raindrop. It is unique in that it makes you imagine a thing and maximize that imagination in a way the book intended. Also, the award it received in the Opera Prima category adds a special meaning as it was the first book of the writer. In the following year, <A Shadow> brought us another award in the same category, which once again proved that Bandal has become a picture book publisher for new authors. <A Shadow> mainly talks about animals gathering in the shadow of a tree to evade the heat from the sun, but it has a twist at the end. It shows that observing daily life can give you inspiration.
<Tree, Dancing>, <The Little Wall>
<Who Are You?>, <A Shadow>
What are other accomplishments of Bandal other than winning the Bologna Ragazzi Award?
It is not easy to publish more than 50 picture books only written by new writers. However, we get to think that it is surely having a positive influence as their works win awards overseas, and the export of picture books increases. There is also an increasing number of overseas publishers that eye Bandal as we won several Bologna Ragazzi Awards. Well, we guess that such achievements we have made with books of newly debuted writers will serve as momentum for us and the authors to move forward in the future.
We believe that picture books, which breath through texts and pictures,
have significant power in delivering the message embedded in the story.
You mentioned that Banal publishes picture books for all generations. What do you think the power of picture books is?
Well, in the past, picture books were regarded as children’s content, and as such, perspectives toward reading picture books have been quite limited. So people thought that as kids get old, they should graduate from reading picture books and start reading children’s books with texts.
But today, many people have a different idea about picture books. We think that picture books should be perceived as a story that breathes through texts and pictures, not as a work where pictures only help understanding the texts. There is a power in picture books where the texts and pictures play their own role and lead the story altogether. So it can be said that picture book writers create a story by making well balanced use of the two tools.
In this sense, we believe that picture books possess a power that effectively delivers a message.
Also, as picture books are capable of stimulating many senses and reflecting emotions of people through pictures seen alongside the texts, they are a powerful means of conveying messages. Besides, we think that the reason “reading” or “looking at” picture books can be used interchangeably is because the message inside is well delivered regardless of age, gender, and readers’ understanding of the text. As such, picture books are a highly universal and agreeable means of carrying messages.
What is the future plan of Kinderland and Bandal?
We would like to stay close to the resolution we had when the picture book brand Bandal was established. We will work to discover new writers and seek more creative styles of picture books. Stories that can draw empathy across all generations will be the prerequisite to becoming a picture book capable of encompassing all age groups, and based on different experiences and understandings of our readers, we will focus on ways to narrate the story in a new style. We will strive to deliver such freshness to our readers and make them think, “oh, this way of expression can be made into a picture book!”
What’s more, Kinderland is planning to publish books that are more for children. We got to think that as recent picture books have been reflecting various generations, the publication of books about the story of our children has slightly dropped. We would like to make books that are a step closer to the life of our children, where they can relate to the story as something of their own.
Organized by Lee Ji-Hyun