Guest Author - Lorel Shea
Ask Magazine is another wonderful publication from the originators of Cricket. Ask is all about arts and sciences, with each issue having one unifying theme. The recommended age range is from seven to ten, but younger fluent readers can also enjoy Ask.
Ask contains regular features as well as a variety of articles related to the central theme. “Scoops” is a two page spread of science news and discoveries. One story might be on a robotic arm, another on the acquisition of language in sac-winged bats. “Nestor's Dock” is a double page cartoon with enjoyable recurring characters. Each issue also has a contest which ties in with the theme. The water issue asks readers to design a fountain, the learning issue requests that readers design a school, and an art issue invites readers to copy their favorite work of art. Winners have their entries printed in a future issue. “Jimmy and the Bug” is another regular feature. Here, readers questions are answered in cartoon format. Questions might appear simple, “Why do lions have manes?” or more complex, “ what are the rings around planets made of?” Answers are both thoughtful and informative. Every issue ends with the silly but sweet cartoon, “Marvin and Friends”, on the back cover.
The “Making Art” issue of Ask includes a lovely piece on quilting traditions in rural Alabama. Many beautiful photos of quilts are displayed alongside comments from their creators. In the same edition, “Playing with Mud” showcases delicate Korean celadon pottery.
“The Liquid of Life” issue of Ask has a fascinating story on water. It covers the water cycle, water forms, a water molecule diagram, and gorgeous photographs of a water droplet, snowflake, and children and animals in various poses with rain and snow. Information offered can be quite complex, but it is just the thing for feeding hungry young intellects. This issue also has water trivia cards, with intriguing questions such as, what can go longer without water, a camel, or a giraffe? An article on water powered generators is very well done, and the issue is rounded out with a nice tour of bogs, fens, swamps, and marshes.
I'm very pleased to recommend Ask. It's funny but not obnoxious, informative but not controversial, with articles a bit shorter and lighter than those found in big brother's Muse Magazine.