WHAT are ozalids and cromalins? And what kind of bubble wrap (micro, baby, small, medium, or big) best suits the packaging for books? Eighteen months ago, sisters Cherry Hope and Heather Bonning hadn't a clue either. But having plunged temerariously into the publishing business with Pookie Productions Limited, they know it all now.

``Our learning curve has been so steep, there is overhang,'' admits Heather. Already, they have printed more than 70,000 books. They control the licensing of publishing rights in four countries overseas. And they are currently overseeing merchandise and television animations due to hit our screens next spring.

``We are in a state of mild astonishment,'' says Cherry.

It was a family gamble which paid off. Cherry and Heather are the daughters of Ivy Wallace, a children's author/illustrator who sold more than a million books worldwide in the 50's and 60's.

Chiefly remembered as the creater of the Pookie stories (nine titles about a flying rabbit) and Animal Shelf series, Ivy Wallace is now a sprightly 79. She is the widow of a former managing director of publishers William Collins, whose offices in all Commonwealth countries ensured Wallace's stories enjoyed an international following.

It was letters from these fans - now parents themselves - which prompted Wallace to relaunch her first title, long since out of print, as a one-off.

Through Aileen Paterson, author of the Maisie books, Wallace made contact with the director of Paterson's publishing house who also happens to be company secretary of Scot Print in Musselburgh.

As a result, 16,000 copies of Wallace's first book were printed in 1993 for dispatch to a Dorset company which visits thousands of school book fairs a year.

The venture took off. In January 1994, Pookie Productions Limited was born. ``We started by visiting six UK bookshops a day for three weeks. We'd never sold a book before and learned on our feet,'' says Heather.

Armed with only three old hardbacks, they were surprised to see orders flood in (``I think it was Pookie's charm - a lot of the buyers remembered''). In May, Scot Print produced an initial print run of 3000 of each of Wallace's first four titles, and has since reprinted 6000 of each.

Meantime, Ivy Wallace has been busily redoing the watercolours - much of her original artwork was lost. Conflict between business (pressing mother to meet urgent deadlines!) and family togetherness has not arisen.

Heather explains: ``Our mother is very enthusiastic and creative. Increasingly, we think of her as Ivy Wallace, our client. It keeps relationships happily compartmentalised.''

Heather principally takes care of invoicing, copy editing and colour production, while Cherry concentrates on contracts and accounts. Responsibility for marketing is shared. Having now published six Pookie titles they have learned the ropes at Scottish Publishers Association training courses.

The financial side of the venture was assisted, initially, by Cherry's next door neighbour, an accountant.

The family rejected the idea of financial backing. ``We wanted to make Pookie Productions work, free of debt,'' explains Heather. They have a small overdraft facility at the Bank of Scotland, keep up to date with cashflow through a HOBS terminal, and the business is on the verge of becoming VAT registered. Small orders are packed at home; bulk ones are dealt with by Albany Publishers' Warehouse in Glasgow.

The most exciting and recent developments are those involving film. Bevanfield of London is producing 26 11-minute episodes of Pookie - a project which is sparking interest from ITV. And the producer of the Dangermouse and Noddy television series is working on a 3D model version of Wallace's Animal Shelf stories.

With a further two companies interested in producing a BBC documentary on Wallace (Cherry is writing a biography of her mother) and the Collins Gallery in Glasgow preparing a walk-through exhibition for March, the family is spoiled for choice. Many contracts are hanging fire, in order to link with television screening schedules.

For Ivy Wallace herself - the goose which laid a remarkably golden and enduring egg - the rebirth of her career is as thrilling as it is unexpected and demanding. ``I'm glad to bring into chidrens' lives today some of the happiness and security I remember as a child,'' she says.

``Once I've caught up with the reprints, I'm going to write new stories. I'm thinking rabbits all the time.''