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January 24, 2003

Big Fat Cat a Big Hit

With titles such as "Big Fat Cat and the Mustard Pie", a series of English study books whose core idea is to avoid anything resembling a grammatical approach have become a huge hit in Japan. With over 1.5 million copies sold in 2002, the books made the No.2 spot on the year's bestsellers list, topped only by the Harry Potter books. Editor Shoji Nagashima wanted to do something about the fact that, like himself, after years of study most Japanese have poor English ability. But he was shocked by the complexity of popular lectures that drilled students on participles and modal verbs. He decided to take a storybook approach with large, colorful illustrations. The hero is a guy called Ed but the main character is an overweight, blueberry pie-eating cat. The result is a series that bills itself as the world's easiest English books. "Big Fat Cat Goes to Town" is available now from BFC Books.

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