Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Anorak children's magazine
When I was a teenager, calling somebody an anorak was insulting - it was basically like calling them a trainspotter (no offence to any trainspotters who might be reading this !) or a Norman-no-mates (no offence to anyone called Norman reading this either !!). So I wasn't sure how appealing this magazine would be. The answer is ... extremely ! And what I love is that it is appealing to parents just as much as kids. (Unless it's just me because I'm a big kid at heart ! )
It doesn't look anything like other kids' magazines. Firstly the paper is thick and luxurious and hardwearing, so it's a magazine you can read and thumb through over and over again - unlike most other children's magazines that immediately get ripped when the inevitable plastic free toy on the front cover is pulled off and whose staples fall out scattering flimsy pages everywhere, which then get screwed up and ripped and end up fit for the bin before half of them have even been read !
Secondly, the colours and artwork are very funky and almost psychedelic. It's called "The Happy Mag for Kids", which immediately sounded like it had hippy-overtones to me ! Unlike most children's magazines, the artwork and illustrations all the way through look "homemade", and they inspired Sophie to sit down and copy them.
It looks to me like a children's mag modelled on grown-up magazines. Partly because of the size and number of pages, but also the full page adverts. At first, this put me off, but Sophie actually loved them - the cheeky children modelling the H&M clothes do fit in nicely with the "happy kids" theme and she hadn't actually realised they were adverts ! The tone of the magazine is very grown-up too, dealing - in a very kid-friendly way - with complex themes like Darwin's theory of evolution.
Each issue has a central theme and this time it was insects - something that the girls would usually be put off by - but they sat down and read it cover to cover, hoovering up information. I have read dozens of magazines with the girls over the years, seeing it as one of my mum duties, but this is the first time I've actually really enjoyed the experience for myself, not just for seeing the pleasure it gave them but also because it had me intrigued, interested and giggling too !
As a mum, I loved the Munkie & Horace photo-story that reminded me of reading Jackie and Just 17 photo-stories in the 1980's ! I also love the Make a Bug and Build your own Astro-gnome pages that are reminiscent of "sticky-backed plastic"-fuelled Blue Peter projects of my youth ! The girls thought the tales of Sidney the Silly Splinge were "really really funny", Harold the Hiccup was "very very funny when he hiccupped and his hair flew off and a bit rude when he talks about Billy the Burp" (cue fits of giggles) and the close-up photos and facts about insects were "eurrggghh disgusting" (cue "wow, look at this mum"!)
There are lots of short stories that would appeal to young children, but also some longer ones for more advanced readers (or for mum or dad to read out loud). Each issue really packs it all in, also offering activity pages (colouring, maze, spot the difference, ...), poems and a beetle game (more nostalgia for mum !!)
When I first saw the RRP of £3.50 on the front cover, I thought it was overpriced but having spent a whole week dipping in with the kids and having them in fits of giggles each time, I have to say it is worth every penny. Especially as I've been reading it when they're in bed as well !!
for more info see http://www.anorak-magazine.co.uk
(If you go to http://www.anorak-magazine.co.uk/issues, you could even have a sneaky peek at several of the pages, including the Sidney the Silly Splinge story that made Juliette laugh so much, she almost wet her knickers !!!)
star rating : 5/5