The bright colours and bold design of this magazine catch the readers eye right away, and I believe the cover would be especially attractive to young children. Looking over their website, I can see this high standard in cover illustration is the norm. These are lovely bright magazines and the illustrations of a good quality with vivid colours and eye catching patterns throughout the magazine.
The magazine begins with four pages of book reviews written by children, which I found very interesting, as it is always nice to get a child's perspective on a book for children. The majority of this magazine is stories. The first is about a stuffed monkey who doesn't think he is good enough to enter an art competition. His friends enter the picture and surprise - surprise - he wins. This is illustrated completely with photographs, primarily of stuffed animals. While I'm afraid this did not interest my children in the least - they did like the idea of illustrating a book using toys, and we may be trying this out on our own. This was certainly the best story in the magazine - and the one the children listened to the most of.
The next story was invasion of the Blobs. This was a rather strange story about an alien race with screws for heads that are attacked by globs of goo. I gather this is meant to fill the desire for adventure stories of most boys, without having anything scary or exciting, but again, it hit a sour note with my own sons who found the whole idea a bit stupid.
The third story is Teddy. This is a cute little story about a teddy bear who travels everywhere in his owners rucksack. I could see this being much more interesting to children who are really fond of soft toys, and again, it could serve as good starting point for your own stories, but once again my children were not interested. I do feel other children might enjoy this one more though.
The 4th story , Tobias is about a boy who dreams of being "the best shot put athlete". None of us were impressed by this story. There wasn't much to it, but the boy does throw the ball.
I'm not sure if the next article really counts as story. It is simply a set of pages showing different Anorak characters and telling a bit about each one. The colours are very bold and bright, and designed in such away that I feel they would really catch an infants attention. If you were to cut them out - this would make a lovely nursery frieze.
After the introduction to circus characters we found what I felt was best the article in the magazine. It is a brilliant craft idea to make your own circus characters from wine corks, polystyrene balls, glue, paint and tissue paper. I was quite surprised that they did not make the same characters that we had just read about - but it would be easy to alter the designs to do this. I also liked the recipe for Japanese Soba.
The last story shows a few fruits and vegetables with google eyes, and then has some drawings us fruits and vegetables with character descriptions. For instance the spud is a JuJitsu champ, the pineapple wants to be a hairdresser and the watermelon is a downhill racer. My sons did not like the stories at all, but thought the google eyed photos were funny.
In addition to the stories, there were a few really unique and beautiful colouring pages, a word search, a maze, a drawing page and a very nice set of spot the difference pages. This magazine does accept commercial advertising, but it was limited. Most of the ads were for clothes. The two page ad for new things was honestly very interesting with some really unique and interesting items for sale - in fact this one of the best parts of the magazine. Altogether, there were on 6 pages of ads a publication with a total of 60 pages - which I feel is quite fair.
I recieved this magazine free as a review copy. Even so, it did not interest my children at all, and I'll be leaving it behind in the Dr.s office where I feel it may help pass the time for a child bored with waiting. I appreciate the fact that my children's poor response to this magazine is simply because these are not the types of stories they enjoy. They like action and adventure, humor, superheroes, scary stories or non fiction. Sugary sweet stories just do not get their interest often, and if they do - they have to be really good. Sadly, I found these stories a bit lack lustre myself. They remind me of some of the books that are used in schools - perfectly correct - but not very fun. On the plus side the illustrations were nice though and the crafts project and recipe quite good.
My children were interested in trying the crafts project - but we never finished a story. After reading this on my own, I did not want to force them to sit through the whole magazine. I do want reading to stay fun. I gave them the option after reading the first paragraph or so of a story to call out skip - it was used on every story at some point. They have rated this as worst magazine ever. I can't quite agree with them. I worked for awhile in a newsagents and I can assure there are far worse magazines out there which they will never see - and in all honesty I don't find this any more tedious then many women's magazines. But as far as children's magazines, sadly the stories in this are clearly the most boring I have ever found, and it is mostly stories - making this the worst in my book for children's magazines as well. If any of can remember an Adams Family movie in which the children are sent to "The Harmony Hut" as punishment for bad deeds - this magazine would be the perfect reading material for such a place - but then again some people would like ther harmony hut.
If you are looking for a magazine with simple, sweet and very tame fiction stories for a very young child - I would say ages 2 -5, have more money then you know what to do with it, and want to ensure your child is only exposed to peaceful calming stories, this might fit the bill. I suppose it might do for bedtime stories, there is certainly nothing in this to excite or wake a child a up. My biggest problem with this though, is at £6 an issue or £24 for a yearly subscription of 4 issues, this really does not strike me as value for money. For the same price as a copy of this magazine, you could choose a really lovely children's book on whatever subject your child likes most.
I expect the main reason to buy this magazine would be to provide a child with a variety of reading material. Studies have shown that children with access to several types of printed material usually do read better, and magazines are widely recommended by experts as a way to get reluctant readers reading, to help children develop reading skills, and just to keep reading fun. The International Reading Association had this to say about magazines; " Children's magazines are a critical element of a well-rounded reading program. They provide an avenue by which readers can explore areas beyond their personal experience, build their store of prior knowledge, and leverage that learning to achieve higher levels of reading proficiency and overall literacy".
Therefore, many concerned parents, myself include have decided that they really want their children to have magazines as well as books. I'm afraid this publication may very much miss the point though. The idea of magazines is that they cater to a child's own interest, are usually very visually rich and often easier to read than books. They encourage children to sit down and leaf through them, exploring this medium for print, enjoying the pictures and taking in bits of text according to their ability. This magazine however is really just a collection of story books - and sadly not very exciting ones at that.
If you are simply looking for stories - I would recommend buying books instead - and letting your child help you choose. If on the other hand you really want a magazine subscription - I would certainly find one to match the child's own interests. Even if the magazine is Thomas the Tank, Moshi Monsters, Spiderman or a gaming magazine - at least you are encouraging the child to read - and to enjoy reading.
I keep thinking I should give this 2 stars - The arts ad crafts page was great - the pictures were nice, and I'm sure many children would be happy enough to here the stories once - they just do not suit our taste. If the retail price was £3 or less I would give this 2 stars. But at £6 all I can think is - you could buy any number of lovely books for that price and I simply can not recommend this at such a high price for anyone.