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I recently contacted several magazine publishers and asked them for a sample copy to review, but also to see which magazines would best suit us. This magazine caught my interest right away with the title "The Science and Arts Magazine for Kids". My children are very interested in science - less so in the arts but it never hurts to branch out some. And like most children, you can get them interested in arts and crafts if it is presented right. We have done all sorts of dinosaur related arts and crafts. On the website is states that Okido is suitable for children ages 3 -8. I have two boys ages 4 and 7 so was hoping this would have at least some material suitable for both. The cover of the magazine however states from ages 2+ and I do find this more accurate. In fact I think parts of this magazine could be shared with infants, and the one real strong point for this magazine is that it is the only one I have found for children this young.
Having checked the magazine out online as well, it appears that each issue has a single theme. The issue we recieved was #22 Colours. This is the same issue pictured for dooyoo's illustration. Although the picture is cut off a bit, you should be able to make out a very cute blue bunny type monster blowing bubbles. This is the main character for this magazine, and from what I can guess by looking at online photos, he features in most if not all of the magazines, sometimes accompanied by similar creatures in different colours. His name is Messy Monster.
The magazines has several very artistic pages. There is a set of pictures with Messy comparing colours to moods - blue is dreamy - yellow is happy and red is angry. There are pages with poems imagining if the world were all one colour and a story about a blob of paint who gets new friends my mixing with other colours. There is also a photo page with things like red tomatoes, a blue shoe and yellow lemons. I can't say these interested my boys, but they would be nice to show a baby pointing out the colours. This would also suit nursery age children who do not yet know their colours - but trust me colours should be learned more from paints than books.
This book has a few projects to try. There is a nice picture made by drawing a quick sketch of a tree and then pasting all sorts of animals in and around it. The animals are made entirely of dried leaves and this does look fun. You can make coloured rice balls, rainbow pictures in which you colour a piece of paper with bright coloured pencils, then colour over the whole thing with a black oil pastel. Next you scrape off some of the black to reveal a rainbow coloured picture underneath. Finally there is a recipe for salt and flour clay, using food colour to make it bright colours. The idea is to make the primary colours and let the children mix them to create new colours. In addition to this, there were several colouring pages, a few stories and one simple game with a colourful tree and a cut out coloured dice.
I feel a bit like an ungrateful wretch to criticise this magazine heavily- when it was given to me free of charge. If subscriptions were free as well - I'd be full of praise for this magazine. Considering that I did not pay for it, I am quite happy with one really good article. If I paid the full £4 though, I could have chosen a book to cover this subject instead. As most people will be paying to read this magazine, I must review it as value for money based on normal purchase prices.
The arts projects were very nice, but we've already done both the clay and the etchings. The rice simply didn't interest us, as I don't like to waste foods and I know my children wouldn't eat it. We may try the leaf animals at some point. The stories I'm afraid did not appeal at all to my children or myself. I found them a bit contrived - perhaps trying to hard to be meaningful or artistic and forgetting about fun. My son's described them with one word - "Boring". If I had to describe them in one word - I would choose "pretentious".
One the plus side, this magazine does not accept commercial advertisements, so all 48 pages are content only. It also has a lovely two page illustration of a busy town in India, in which you are meant to find the character foxy. I gather "Find Foxy" appears in every issue and is very much like Where's Wally. My sons always enjoy these, but this one is far more challenging than most. We've found the extra characters, but we still haven't found foxy. The picture also fits quite well with the theme of colours as it is very much an explosion of colours.
There was one really wonderful article though, which was , in my opinion the saving grace for this magazine. This explained how the magazine is printed in colour. It begins with a quick explanation of how paper is made. Next it shows the paper being delivered to the printers. Meanwhile publishers are preparing the images on a computer and sending them to the printer. There are some really wonderful illustrations here showing how each of four colours is added to the picture to create the full spectrum of colours. My children both really enjoyed this and I found it highly educational and informative.
Okido can be found in WH Smith's and Waterstones at £4 an issue, or a subscription can purchased for £20 per year which includes 5 issues. Okido is printed on a thick white paper made from recycled consumer wasted or responsibly sourced wood products. The inks are made from completely biodegradable vegetable pigments. I like this because I do feel this magazine best suits children young enough to eat the pages.
Although we did love the one article - I found Okido does not have enough content that would suit my children to justify the purchase price. Other than the article on printing, I think this would best suit very young children - ages 2 -4. I do think this would be a nice resource in a nursery or child care setting, and I certainly know some people who would love it. We all have different tastes, but the stories did not suit my children at all. They were also quite put off by the cute little monster - but other children may love this. My sons felt this character was babyish and I'm afraid they just aren't into cute. The text is easy to read, but the print is small for children. I don't feel this is an issue as this clearly appeals to children too young to read. I do feel that other issues may be far more interesting though, as I know they have done ones focusing on the human body and on animals. If you are looking for a cute and artistic magazine to share with a very young child, you may very well enjoy this but I certainly would not consider it for a child over age 5.
I have wavered between giving this magazine 3 or 4 stars. True it did not really suit us, but it isn't a bad magazine and I'm sure some children would enjoy it very much. The one printing article was so good I will be saving this magazine, and the arts and crafts although simple and well known are still fun. I only gave Puffin Post 4 stars though and I simply can not give this the same rating as Puffin Post. I am giving this 3 stars, but a very high 3 stars. My sons I think would give it less. When asked if they would like to get this magazine in the post the answer was resounding "NO!" They did enjoy the one article, but they didn't even want to finish the other stories and I didn't want to force it . As they have known their colours for years, there wouldn't be any educational value for them. As far as just reading - I want reading to be fun - and I'm afraid this just was not fun at all.
I think this will appeal more to parents who want to make sure their offspring is artistic, intellectual and sophisticated than to the children themselves, as horrible as that sounds to say. Then again, perhaps we are too uneducated and uncouth to appreciate it properly. Let's face, we live in a working class council estate. We most certainly are not in the target audience for this magazine. It does have it good points, but there is just too much of the content that does not suit us at all.