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Pullman power

The Edinburgh International Book Festival goes from strength to strength. The number of writers at this summer's festivities in Charlotte Square Gardens has risen to 550, with more than 100 children's authors and illustrators in over 300 events.

Star billing for children's authors must go to Philip Pullman, winner of last year's Whitbread prize for Amber Spyglass, the final book of his Dark Materials trilogy. Pullman will face Richard Holloway, the former Bishop of Edinburgh, in a discussion on fantasy versus morality, and join authors Michael Rose and Jamila Gavin in a discussion to celebrate the English National Portrait Gallery's publication Beatrix Potter to Harry Potter.

First Minister Jack McConnell will join authors Eoin Colfer and Jeremy Strong to talk about some favourite books; and Education Minister Cathy Jamieson will launch the Scottish Executive's home reading initiative.

The schools programme, sponsored by TES Scotland, is almost fully booked. More than 80 schools will attend, half from outside Edinburgh, travelling from as far as Aberdeen, Bute and Tiree, thanks to pound;10,500 for buses, funded by Arts and Business New Partners, Lloyds TSB Scotland,The Herald and Sunday Herald.

Two events for teenagers have free places, one with Julie Bertagna on Exodus, a tale of the world drowning, the other a discourse with Richard Holloway on how to hand on social values to a new generation when the values themselves are in flux.

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