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



Spring 2014 Magazines
Ages: 9 - 14 yrs.
Publisher: ePals Media
Newsstand Price: $6.95
Subscription Price: $33.95 / 9 Issues

Muse magazine's subtitle provides a good clue about the appeal of this smart and smarty-pants publication: The Magazine of Life, the Universe and Pie Throwing. While seriously focusing its content on science, the arts, history, and even some pop culture, this well-designed and intelligently written magazine for kids in their early double digits embeds an underlying chicanery and clever humor on practically every provocative page.

For example, in the November-December 2013 issue, the story "Life in the Clear" examines how invisibility helps deep sea creatures from becoming dead sea creatures, and then asks readers what they'd do if they were totally invisible. Sherlock-themed features in the January 2014 issue tell what happens when you put a GPS on a cat, and explore how to solve a prehistoric crime. Plus, a piece about author J. K. Rowling's recent pseudonym flap asks readers to come up with their own pseudonym.

In the February 2014 issue, Muse spoofs conservation irresponsibility with "Diary of Mega Impact Man" and covers scientific efforts to engineer an environmentally friendly, cruelty-free meat in "Meat Minus the Moo." And a did-you-know page reveals Dr. Seuss's pre-author background in advertising—specifically his Seuss-like images in an ad campaign for a bug spray.

While Muse employs nine little simply-drawn cartoon muse characters here and there throughout its pages imparting amusing thematic quips, to the magazine's credit it avoids the usual kids' magazine trap of overloading with ridiculous cartoony content. Instead, Muse treats it readers like young and thoughtful humans who can "get it" without the in-your-face comics.

If there is a criticism, it's that some of the features are long. But Muse seems confident that its content is original and compelling enough to hold readers' attention even in this age of shorter attention spans. And it is.

Don Oldenburg   ©2014 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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