Between the lines

13th February 2004 at 00:00
TES books editor Geraldine Brennan on the inside literary track

The three classy and well-produced Fresh Visions booklets published for the new learning centre at Somerset House are intended to show the potential for education work at Somerset House, the Gilbert Collection, the Courtauld Institute and the Hermitage Rooms, but they also make good-value general guides to the highlights of the collections (all three for pound;9.95, see www.somerset-house.org.uk).

A group of gifted and talented pupils from St Catherine's RC girls' school in the London borough of Bexleyheath worked with pupils from Oaklands special school in the London borough of Hounslow on the projects celebrated in the booklet for the Gilbert Collection (where Quentin Blake's "Fifty Years of Illustration" continues until March 28, see also half-term programme on the website). Pictured is Elizabeth Donnelly and Rachael Simpson's paper mosiac inspired by a 19th-century Venetian micromosaic.

Windmill Hill primary school, Swindon, is at the centre of the Courtauld Institute booklet and the Architectural Inspirations booklet focuses on work by Claremont high school, a specialist arts college in north London.

Listen out for student teacher Susie Day's first children's novel on Radio 4 in late March. WhumpI in which Bill falls 632 miles down a manhole was selected from 4,500 entries when BBC Talent held a competition in 2001 to find new junior fiction. Ms Day wanted a break from her PhD thesis on Virginia Woolf and biography and Whump was the result. The adventures of dyspraxic Bill, who takes his mega-tumble after an unfortunate soup spill in the school dinner queue and meets a Scrabble-playing warrior princess in the realms beneath, seem promising in an early proof. Whump will be the first fiction title from BBC Worldwide and is aimed at eight to 10-year-olds. This key readership is not always well served by the bigger literary prizes and promotions, so BBC Talent's effort to create opportunities for authors who are not writing crossover or teenage fiction should be welcomed.

Despite this success, Ms Day is no doubt sticking to the day job, at least until she finishes her PGCE at Oxford. BBC Talent is announcing five more schemes in March.

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