Children’s magazines and comics: two more examples of when children’s magazine publishers get it right

A sea of sellophane, pink and plastic, tacky toys

A short while ago (April 2012), I wrote a piece expressing my dismay over the poor quality of most children’s magazines available on the British high street and in supermarkets.  “Buy one magazine, get five tacky, two-minute-wonder toys for free” was the general sentiment.  I did, however,  feature in that piece some examples of good quality, educational magazines that I had found – Anorak, the Box magazines from Bayard and the official Jacqueline Wilson Mag.

Well, I am pleased to say that I can add two more to the list, both of which are available via subscription.   And here they are.

Aquila – “The fun magazine for children who enjoy challenges”   Aquila is a lovely, fun, yet educational, magazine aimed at children aged between 8 and 13 years.   Produced monthly, each edition is based around a main topic.  For example, January 2012′s edition was based around the 2012 London Olympics.  So, inside, pieces featured: the science of movement “Running on empty”; a craft activity involving making a picture frame based on the 5 Olympic rings; quizzes, word puzzles, maths questions all with an Olympic theme; an article about the Olympic torch – its history, the different designs, including the London 2012 torch; lots of facts and details specific to the London 2012 Games including venues, the bid, the logo and the mascots; and an extended piece looking back at the last time London hosted the Olympics in 1948.   As always, there was also an extended fiction piece (double page), this time not Olympics related, and the letters page “Over to you…” where readers are invited to write in on just about anything they like.

And in March 2012′s edition, much of the content was based around growing your own and included the importance of fruit and vegetables in our diet; the science of ‘flitatious flowers’; making a Dalek composter; quizzes and number problems on a nature theme; how to, in fact, grow your own; and keeping chickens.  The ‘peer into the past’ piece in the March issue covered the sinking of the Titanic, timed to acknowledge the one hundred year anniversary of the disaster.

Aquila’s content includes a good mix of educational pieces, stretching the brightest of the target audience, interesting craft and science projects, storytelling and brainfeeders – Aquila’s name for its section of word puzzles and quizzes.

Running on empty

Olympic rings picture frame

Olympics brainfeeders

The Olympic Torch

The Games of the London Olympiad

The London Olympics 1948

Hallsands by Caroline Butterwick

the Phoenix – The Weekly Story Comic   Judging by my nine year old’s reaction, who incidentally is comic mad, I think we will be extending our current trial subscription with the Phoenix.   Actually, the trial subscription is available to everyone and is an excellent way to try out the comic over five weeks.

Fridays have now become ‘Phoenix’ day in our house as this is the day that this weekly comic plops onto our door mat.   Inside are serialised adventure stories such as The Bald Boy and the Dervish which extend over a number of weeks, often leaving readers on a cliffhanger; shorter story strips such as Out All Night, featuring Kit and Clay; text stories which might be an extract from a book (Conrad Mason’s The Demon’s Watch was featured in one edition); puzzles, like Monster Breakout (see below); and advice for budding comic creators which my daughter leapt upon and you can see the result of her efforts in this post, below.

The Bald Boy and the Dervish

The Bald Boy and the Dervish

The Bald Boy and the Dervish

Out All Night

Tale Feathers with Chris Riddell

Monster Breakout!

How to make awesome comics ... with your friends

Lucie and Rumpelstiltskin

Lucie and Rumpelstiltskin

And here is an extract from the first edition of my daughter’s homemade publication – The Pinny’s Expedition – Gold, Silver and Bronze

The Pinny’s Expedition is a small-scale, in-house publication.   Further publication dates are yet to be decided – they might be weekly, monthly, yearly or a one-off – depending on demand, whether a team of other contributors can be found (her sister?) and the requirements of fitting it round the school day.  We hope you like it!

Gold, Silver and Bronze

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4


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3 Responses to Children’s magazines and comics: two more examples of when children’s magazine publishers get it right

  1. liza scott says:

    wow so amazing magazine.. i would like to buy these all to mine small kids..thx for sharing this.. i was searching for that

  2. Found you via Joel, we love London too :)
    Thought you might be interested in a new Australian creative arts print mag featuring the work of children and artists side by side.
    Love to hear what you think. We started it in response to searching for quality mags for our little ones and now the pages seems to have struck a chord among parents and kids from far and wide. We also are fans of ‘Okido’ magazine and ‘Bookie Bookie’
    BIG cheers from the land down under :) Jo and Lilly

    • Yvonne Keen says:

      Hi Jo and Lilly

      I remember you contacting me before about your idea of a magazine featuring children and artists alongside each other. I was intrigued about the idea then and still am. I think it is a wonderful idea. Do you have any digital copies of pages from Big Kids Magazine that I could feature??? Shall I contact you by email? Really great to hear from you, Yvonne,

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