Guest Author - Lorel Shea
Spider Magazine is a dream come true for the young gifted reader. The magazine is pitched for children ages six to nine. Strong independent readers may be ready for it earlier. Sample issues run to 33 pages, plus each has an additional pullout paper craft. There is a lot of writing packed into this little mag and the very youngest subscribers might prefer to have Mom, Dad, or big sister share the joy.
Issues of Spider have a fairly predictable pattern. This is a positive for most of the target audience, who are young enough to find comfort in predictability. The publishing information is tucked into a tiny box on the inside front cover. A lovely drawing of Spider's Mailbox takes up the rest of the page, as well as all of the first page. This is the backdrop against which Spider and her little buggy friends cavort in unique poses each month. My daughter could tell you exactly who the bugs are and all about their personalities, but I'm not quite as Spider savy as she. Suffice it to say that she follows the antics of these little characters with glee, as they appear on page bottoms throughout each issue. The bugs are well loved by readers and they all receive fanmail.
The Danderfield Twins is a recurring feature and the first story in each Spider magazine. The twins and their friends are a lively and intelligent bunch, who often must work together to solve a problem. These stories are short and sweet, running about six pages long with large type and plenty of illustrations. Other stories, puzzles, and poems may follow a particular theme. One issue appeared to have two themes, both trains and dogs. A recipe for peanutbutter dog biscuits was a pleasant surprise here.
Illustrations in the magazine are bright and appealing. I heartily appreciate the fact that there is no advertising whatsoever included in Spider. This is very refreshing and a significant demonstration of Carus Publishing's commitment to fair marketing.
Near the back of each issue is a department known as Spider's Corner. Reader artwork and poetry is shared here, with an invitation to submit a drawing or poem on a given idea. One request is for farm animal pictures, another for poems about pets. The quality of the shared work in this gallery tends to be quite high; I suspect that Spider already has many gifted subscribers.