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Twelve of the original "Little Golden Books'' are being reissued to commemorate the series' 50th anniversary this year.

The first Little Golden Books came off the presses in October 1942. At 25 each, they provided an affordable, yet high-quality alternative to most children's books of the time, which cost $3 to $4. Sold in drugstores and supermarkets, the books were an immediate success, with 1.5 million sold in the first six months of publication. The all-time bestseller, "The Poky Little Puppy,'' is among those being reissued. Its sales, through 74 previous reprintings, top 14 million.

Boxed sets of six original and six classic Little Golden Books are available in bookstores for $19.95 each. But the publisher remains true to its low-budget tradition; single copies of Little Golden Books are still available for under $1.

A publication devoted to urban education has found a new home at the National Middle School Association in Columbus, Ohio.

High Strides, a tabloid published five times a year that focuses on exemplary urban middle school programs, had been published since 1989 by the Education Writers Association, a professional group in Washington that took on the project with the help of a grant from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.

The journal, whose current circulation includes journalists and policymakers, will be published by both associations over a two-year transition period.

The N.M.S.A. has sent the November 1992 issue to its 10,000 members, 36 percent of whom come from urban areas. For information, call E.W.A. at 202-429-9680.

An unusual addition to the reference shelf is now available from Random House. That publisher's Word Menu turns traditional word classification and categorization on its head, aiming to be dictionary, thesaurus, and glossary all at once.

The 1008-page Menu groups words along seven main subject areas, including science, arts, language, and nature. Each subject is then broken down into three or four chapters, with categories and subcategories, all cross-referenced.

In the "language'' section, for example, the "structure and usage'' chapter alone includes categories on grammar, rhetoric, and prefixes and suffixes (with definitions for hundreds). The chapter on common expressions offers a category on "nonsense, confusion, and trouble,'' which contains more than 50 terms.

Presuming one can master the logistics, the reference can also be used as an almanac; it has listings on the table of elements, major holidays, sacred texts, nations and major cities of the world, along with a 120-page alphabetical index.--S.K.G.

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