Kids' books heat up in chilly lit market

The kids’ book market has come of age.

That’s a message most of the 1,400 publishers from 81 countries gathering last week for the Bologna Children’s Book Fair have been trumpeting for years, but it’s just beginning to reach Hollywood’s ears.

At a time when the adult book market is contracting, U.S. kids’ book revenues are exploding — up 13% from $1.72 billion to $1.95 billion from 1999 to 2000.

Family fare has always been a staple of Hollywood. But the rise of Harry Potter and the success of children’s classics like “Stuart Little” and “The Grinch” — what the Paul Kohner Agency’s Stephen Moore calls “poignant classics with a huge built-in audience” — have recently awakened a huge appetite for children’s books in Hollywood.

It’s too early to say what deals will emerge from the Bologna Book Fair, but Moore is already close to a film deal for Polly Horvatch’s “Everything on a Waffle,” and Conville & Walsh agent Sam North will soon close a deal for Nicky Singer’s “Norbert No-Bottle.”

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