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Literacy strategy dominates

In Bologna Geraldine Brennan finds the literacy hour dictating choice.

The extent to which British publishing has been tailored to the demands of the literacy hour and the National Year of Reading became apparent at the Bologna International Book Fair last week.

The currently limited choice of big books for whole-class teaching will be augmented. The editions will include non-fiction classics such as Walker's Think Of An Eel and What's Under The Bed? by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom (Watts), a 1996 TES award-winner.

A variation on the big book for old primary children - laminated chunks of enlarged text with author's notes on the back - is coming from Puffin. A literacy hour booklist will also come out in June.

There are also several home-and-school reading schemes. Allan Ahlberg's Fast Fox, Slow Dog series for beginner readers features tales of the dozy hound which inevitably saves the chickens from the manic fox, and will be published by VikingPuffin in early 1999. Dorling Kindersley's non-fiction version appears this autumn.

Poetry is also popular: the most imposing collection is probably Walker's Classic Poems, with 100 selected by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Paul Howard.

Hodder and Orion both have strong lists for older readers, including newly-discovered writers. Skellig by David Almond is coming from Hodder for 10-plus readers while Orion is publishing a thriller for teenagers, The Terrible Quin by John Brindlay. Dick King-Smith's second novel for older readers, The Crowstarver, is coming from Doubleday in July and Macmillan has new titles from Peter Dickinson, Gary Paulsen and Sharon Creech.

This year's most intriguing Bologna book is not yet scheduled to appear here. Kveta Pacovska's Alphabet won a special prize for illustration in Bologna alongside a British entry, Chris Riddell's illustrations for The Swan's Stories by Brian Alderson (Walker).

Alphabet - published in Germany by Ravensburger - is intended for adults as well as children. The alphabet characters are a bustling sequence of cut-outs, pop-ups, reflective and tactile surfaces intended for play.

Why-Day Friday, by Tony Ross, also plays with language. It appears this autumn.

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