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Big can be best

Size does matter: the big book is one of the best inventions for infant teachers who want to capture the interest of their audience while reading aloud. The National Literacy Project's insistence on whole-class sharing of texts means this format comes into its own. Yet most UK publishers are reluctant to invest, with the result that some titles which originate in the UK are only available as big books via the US. This explains why Rosie's Walk by Pat Hutchins (an import from US Scholastic) costs Pounds 19.95.

While choice remains limited, the latest big editions show the format at its best. Dick King-Smith's The Jolly Witch (Mac-donald Pounds 11.99) is great fun and shows off illustrator Frank Rodgers's rosy-cheeked chubby people in cosy surroundings.

Dramatic picture books such as Duck in Danger by J Croser and S Kennedy (Ragged Bears Pounds 12.95) take full advantage of the space. Marcus Pfister's Rainbow Fish to the Rescue (Ragged Bears Pounds 16.95) will guarantee more oohs and aahs. And traditional adventures-with-happy-endings like This is the Bear and The Scary Night by Sarah Hayes and Helen Craig (Walker Pounds 11.99) and Six Dinner Sid by Inga Moore (Macdonald Pounds 11.99) lend a new meaning to page-turning tension as the eye dwells on every detail: the angle of the cat's whisker as he stares at a spider, the dreamy smile of a boy hugging his bowl of goldfish.

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