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One of the country's most successful publishers of children's literature, Valerie Hussey, announced yesterday that she is resigning as president of Toronto-based Kids Can Press.

Hussey, 55, said she's ending an "extraordinary career" of almost 30 years at the helm of Kids Can, publisher of the phenomenally successful Franklin the Turtle series, to take on an as-yet undetermined "new challenge."

She stressed that her departure from Kids Can, purchased in 1998 as a division of what is now Corus Entertainment for more than $6-million, was entirely her own decision and made on amicable terms with Corus.

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"I feel really young still," she said, "and I'm excited at the prospect of doing something new." She didn't rule out the prospect of further involvement in publishing, since "after 31 years . . . it's in my blood."

A former teacher and educational publisher, Hussey took over Kids Can Press in 1979, six years after it had been founded as a co-operative. Its annual revenues at that time were less than $17,000. Now it's usual for Kids Can, which publishes more than 60 titles a year with a full-time staff of 43, to report annual revenue of more than $13-million.

Hussey's resignation is effective Friday, but it's expected she'll continue in an advisory capacity with Kids Can until the end of September.

Karen Boersma, currently Kids Can's vice-president and associate publisher, has been named the company's publisher, while Lisa Lyons is interim general manager, adding the role to her job as vice-president of content distribution and Max Trax digital music for Corus TV.

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