Beatrice Alemagna
Beatrice Alemagna
© Versant Sud
Graphic novel

Beatrice Alemagna, Grande Ourse 2023 at the SLPJ in Seine-Saint-Denis

I love any book that suggests a notion of escaping what we have to do.

Recipient of the Grande Ourse Prize at the 34th Salon du livre et de la presse jeunesse en Seine-Saint-Denis (SLPJ), Beatrice Alemagna has illustrated around thirty books published and translated in several languages. Through each book in turn, she has created a poetic universe of her own using drawing, collage, pencil and painting. Selected for the tenth consecutive year for the Swedish international prize, the Astrid-Lindgren Commemorative Award, her work is celebrated for its shape-shifting and singular qualities. As a partner of the SLPJ, the Institut français will strive to make the Grande Ourse 2023 and youth literature known around the world, with the support of the French cultural network abroad in particular. 

Updated on 08/12/2023

2 min

Born in Bologna (Italy) on 10 May 1973, Beatrice Alemagna was passionate about illustration from an early age. At the age of eight, she dreamed of becoming, in her own words, a "painter of novels". She first studied graphics and photography at the ISIA Art School in Urbano. At the end of her studies, she received the first prize in the "Figures futures" illustration competition at the Seine-Saint-Denis Book and Youth Press Show in 1996. She relocated to France in 1997. Other awards soon followed, such as the Attention Talent-Fnac award in 2000 and the CIELJ Octogones award in 2002. Five years later, she received the "Special Mention" in the Fiction category at the Bologna Children's Book Fair for A Lion in Paris

Over the course her career, she has written and illustrated around thirty books with various French publishers such as Seuil, Autrement jeunesse, Gallimard jeunesse, Didier jeunesse, Rue du Monde and Thierry Magnier. She has also collaborated on around twenty further works, illustrating the texts of Orienne Charpentier, Guillaume Guéraud and Jean-Claude Mourlevat. In tandem, she has worked on the republication of works by Guillaume Apollinaire, Gianni Rodari and Aldous Huxley. 

Beatrice Alemagna uses a range of different techniques in her illustrations, including pencil, paint, collage and embroidery. Self-taught in drawing, she has developed her style over the years, while adapting to each individual creation. She spends many months creating her works by hand and explains how she puts a lot of her personality on every page. Not shying away from nostalgia, her universe presents itself as a call to memory, a discussion with our inner child. Beatrice Alemagna admits that she regards the book as an exhibition space, a portable gallery in which she can allow her imagination to run wild. 

Beatrice Alemagna's sources of inspiration are numerous. They range from raw painting to American folk painting with detours through Polish illustrators, the Nabis, Kiki Smith and Louise Bourgeois. Beatrice Alemagna also mentions her affection for painters of the "banal", such as Sweden's Jockum Nordström and his wife Mamma Andersson. Passionate about Nordic literature, she is a big fan of Tomi Ungerer and also of Tove Jansson's work. 

Beatrice Alemagna's works have been translated around the world: My Friend and A Lion in Paris are among the most exported. In 2020, she was chosen to represent her home country, Italy, in the Hans-Christian-Andersen Prize, an international Danish award, in the Illustration category. Two years later, she was chosen again and this time was a finalist. 

The illustrator has also exhibited her work in many cities around the world. In 2023, Beatrice Alemagna was selected for the tenth consecutive year for the prestigious Swedish international prize, the Astrid-Lindgren Commemorative Award. In the same year, she received the Grande Ourse du Salon du livre et de la presse youth de Montreuil for her work. 

  • 1996


    Beatrice Alemagna receives first prize in the "Figures futures" illustration competition at the Salon du livre et de la presse jeunesse de Montreuil in 1996.

  • 2000


    She receives the Attention Talent-Fnac Award.

  • 2020


    She is selected to represent Italy for the Hans-Christian-Andersen Prize.

  • 2023


    Beatrice Alemagna is selected for the tenth consecutive year for the Astrid-Lindgren Commemorative Award.

  • 2023


    Grande Ourse Prize at the Salon du livre et de la presse jeunesse en Seine-Saint-Denis

L'institut français, LAB