Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Spring 2012 Magazines
Ages: 9 - 14 yrs.
Publisher: ePals Media
Newsstand Price: $4.95
Subscription Price: $33.95 / 9 Issues

Calliope's sub title is "Exploring World History," and it does exactly that, making cultures and civilizations from the distant past and elsewhere not only interesting but relevant. Whether the magazine is analyzing Homer's "Odyssey," investigating what happened to Louis-Charles, the disappeared son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, examining the lore of vampires, or debunking the legend of Paul Revere's ride, it probes the past the way historians do-always asking questions.

While the magazine's stories, word puzzles, riddles, mazes and hands-on activities are designed for grades 4 and up, be forewarned that the writing here is a little more sophisticated than your typical magazine for elementary-age kids and might prove challenging. And while the visuals rely less on all the flash-and-bang cartoonishness typical of many kids' magazines, there's a certain videogame graphic appearance to some of these illustrations.

Calliope can get pretty heavy as well: A recent issue's was dedicated to Osiris, the ancient Egyptian ruler of the dead, and an eight-page, step-by-step journey through the Egyptian afterlife's "Underworld."

Besides in-depth features, Calliope includes such departments as Five Facts (ranging from funny to thought-provoking), Then and Now (which connects the past with the present), Musings (a quote related to the issue's theme meant to spark discussion), Off the Shelf (sources to spur further exploration), and Fun with Words (theme-related etymology).

And just when you're about to say one problem with Calliope is that it's a bit Western centric, you find that its February 2012 issue is all about China's master sage, Confucius! And you know what Confucius said: "Study the past if you would define the future..." Calliope does that well.

Don Oldenburg   ©2012 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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