Secret History of Cricket Magazine
November 10, 2017 7:57 AM   Subscribe

The Secret History of Cricket Magazine, the "New Yorker for Children," by A.J. O'Connell at Electric Literature. "In a time when children’s magazines mostly featured hidden object drawings and games, Cricket stubbornly refused to underestimate its young readers. It welcomed their correspondence, and was such a human endeavor that for many readers, finding Cricket in the mailbox every month was like a visit from a friend."
posted by goatdog (79 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
 
I grew up on Cricket! I loved it so much.
posted by thivaia at 7:58 AM on November 10 [8 favorites]


I always wanted a subscription but never had one. I had to make do with tattered copies in waiting rooms.
posted by goatdog at 8:02 AM on November 10 [12 favorites]


My closest brush to fame as a child was when my friend got her letter published in Cricket. I loved this magazine and I’m glad to see that despite the troubles of print media it’s still being published (for now...)
posted by skycrashesdown at 8:07 AM on November 10 [3 favorites]


I loved loved loved Cricket as a child, and now my mom makes sure my kids have a subscription to Babybug and Ladybug, and I assume Cricket in a few years and it just makes me so happy.
posted by Adridne at 8:12 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


I am so happy to be sharing Cricket (and its excellent magazines for younger children Ladybug and Spider) with my kids today.

It's a very special publication, no doubt due to its insistence on including great children's authors on its board and editorial staff.
posted by xthlc at 8:12 AM on November 10 [2 favorites]


I once won third place in one of Cricket's art contests. They printed my drawing of a book-devouring school locker.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:22 AM on November 10 [14 favorites]


I vaguely recall finding these in our library. They were always fun to dig into. Good share.
posted by Fizz at 8:27 AM on November 10


Wow I'd essentially forgotten about these, thanks!
posted by aspersioncast at 8:32 AM on November 10


Cricket! I'd totally forgotten the name, but I'm 99% sure now that Cricket was my first publication credit.

I won second prize in a short story contest, but I was bitter because my mom had made me change the ending to be smarmier. The original would have gotten first.
posted by ernielundquist at 8:34 AM on November 10 [12 favorites]


I absolutely grew up on these, as well! I remember collecting them to go back once a year and re-read the serial comics with the pussywillow and the insects without needing to wait for cliffhangers.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 8:35 AM on November 10 [5 favorites]


I'm fairly sure my parents still kept several of my old Cricket issues from 1986/1987. I'd only just learned English and didn't understand everything I read, but I loved it.
posted by easternblot at 8:38 AM on November 10 [2 favorites]


The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren, mentioned in the article, is an extraordinary novel. It's a fantasy novel that somehow combines profound bleakness with deep joy. It’s considered an untouchable classic in the Nordic countries, on par with Tove Jansson's best work.
posted by Kattullus at 8:38 AM on November 10 [7 favorites]


Cricket was a huge part of my childhood. I don’t know how my parents afforded a subscription but I’m so grateful they did.
posted by not_the_water at 8:39 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


I know causation is not correlation, but we seem to be tracking almost 100% for Cricket Magazine determining future Metafilter membership.
posted by Keith Talent at 8:44 AM on November 10 [23 favorites]


I ADORED Cricket. I was so upset when my mother shamed me into canceling my subscription, i.e. "you're too big for this now!" I'm so glad it's still out there.
posted by dancing_angel at 8:45 AM on November 10


Loved Cricket. I only saw it at our local library, but there was a consistent subscription there and so that was just fine.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:53 AM on November 10


Reading Cricket was the prize for going to the dentist when I was a kid. We didn't get them after - but we read the snot out of them while we were there.
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:54 AM on November 10 [2 favorites]


I hadn't realized Cricket was still going; I need to look into getting it for my kids. I still use "everybuggy" in my head sometimes. I remember sending a letter to Ask Professor Cricket (or Old Cricket or something?)... it never got published, but I did receive a personal letter back, which I still think is awful damn cool.
posted by nickmark at 8:58 AM on November 10 [3 favorites]


I was either second or third prize winner in a Cricket writing contest. Something about a talking squirrel. I kept the issue with my name in it for years, I was so very proud.
posted by Stacey at 8:59 AM on November 10 [2 favorites]


Every once in a while I am reminded that Trina Schart Hyman is dead, and that I can only find "new" illustrations of hers by accident.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 9:03 AM on November 10 [3 favorites]


Wait, is this the first FPP about Cricket?? *searches Metafilter* that can't possibly be!!

I know causation is not correlation, but we seem to be tracking almost 100% for Cricket Magazine determining future Metafilter membership.

As I was just saying...
---
I first discovered "Frog and Toad" when excerpts were first reprinted in Cricket. I liked it, except that I had to deal with my precocious older sister who called me stupid for not getting parts of it/liking it as much as she did.
posted by Melismata at 9:26 AM on November 10 [2 favorites]


Well, now I'm going to get a subscription for my daughter who is most into reading and writing.
posted by drezdn at 9:28 AM on November 10


My preschooler gets Ladybug, and I LOVE IT. I never got it as a kid and am so glad I discovered it as a mom. My dad has been in the magazine publishing industry since the 70s so I'm painfully aware of how hard it is and how much harder it's gotten, and every issue we get I wonder how they're staying afloat. I wish I could buy a "sustaining subscription" to help them out - there's so little content out there for small children that isn't just an ad.
posted by potrzebie at 9:28 AM on November 10


I get High Five for my 3-year old and enjoy having new things every month to read to him (and he enjoys it too). I should look into getting more magazine subscriptions for him. I had considered Ladybug before, and Click looks pretty good too.
posted by that girl at 9:32 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


It's strange: the name rings a bell, and I read kids magazines like Owl and World and Highlights in the early to mid-70s, but if I Google up images of Cricket covers I'm not recognizing a thing. Not even the logo.

I suspect MeFi might actually be implanting false memories.
posted by Quindar Beep at 9:50 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


I got Cricket when I was a kid, and I also got a boxful of the really older ones from an older step-uncle. Loved them.

I've been getting Ladybug for a couple of years now for my older child, and I just upgraded him to Spider (the literary mag for 6-8 year olds) and threw in Ask (science-focused for 6-8 yos) and switched the Ladybug sub to his little sister.

Metafilter hasn't done Cricket until now, but AskMe did! We're also getting Ranger Rick, which seems to be a crowd-pleaser, too.
posted by Liesl at 9:57 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


Oh, and if you call to subscribe, they will apply any promos that aren't displayed on the website. This knocked the sub down to $17 for a year print sub rather than $33.
posted by Liesl at 9:58 AM on November 10 [2 favorites]


Ah, Cricket. My mom subscribed to it for me when I was about four or five; pretty soon we'd acquired a set of the year or so of back issues that came out before then, and I think the subscription kept going well past the point where I would have been "too old" for it. I kinda wish I had kids in my life so I could get subscriptions for them.

There were other kid's magazines in the 70s. But none of them had the warmth and friendliness of Cricket; it was a magazine to curl up with and read rather than, say, a bunch of stuff about kid-oriented pop culture (Dynamite) or kid-sized science news (Odyssey) or nature facts (Ranger Rick). Not that I didn't get and love the last two of those. But I wasn't guaranteed to vanish with a new issue of them the way I was with Cricket. It was good stuff.

also I loved the way the insect friends had little adventures in the margins, and also showed up to provide footnotes for words and concepts that were just a little outside the expected vocabulary or experience of an American kid.
posted by egypturnash at 10:13 AM on November 10 [5 favorites]


I know causation is not correlation, but we seem to be tracking almost 100% for Cricket Magazine determining future Metafilter membership.

I've never heard of it, but I presume it's about the joys of trundlers, carrom balls, diamond ducks, jaffas, yorkers, snickometers, stodgers, dobbing, wafts, mullygrubbers, donkey drops, hoicks, biffers, googlies, and the Duckworth-Lewis method.
posted by kersplunk at 10:16 AM on November 10 [3 favorites]


I was a Highlights kid.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 10:18 AM on November 10 [3 favorites]


What's this? Some fancy-schmancy version of Grit?
posted by lazycomputerkids at 10:24 AM on November 10


I was a Ladybug-Spider-Cricket reader. Spider came out at the perfect time, as I was deffo too old for Ladybug but not quite enough of a reader for all the stories in Cricket.

The marginal insect drawings were just delightful.
posted by dismas at 10:25 AM on November 10


She recalls reading Highlights for Children to André when he was sick with a sore throat. Highlights did the trick — it put him to sleep. It also put Marianne to sleep.
Cricket may have had better art--much better art, going by the article--but Highlights had Goofus and Gallant.

secret lifehack: being Goofus was always an option
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:28 AM on November 10 [6 favorites]


I loved Cricket as a kid, thank you for this!
posted by Chrysostom at 10:34 AM on November 10


I suspect MeFi might actually be implanting false memories.

As I recall, it wouldn't be the first time.
posted by nickmark at 10:39 AM on November 10 [2 favorites]


Aw, this brought back memories. I loved Cricket and Cobblestone. Never did get into the New Yorker, though.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 10:57 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


I got Cricket as a kid and adored it. There was one story about a tornado in Nebraska that was my earliest nightmare fuel, but I couldn't stop reading it over and over again.

Little did I realize at the time that I would grow up and teach music to the grandchildren of the family that started Cricket.
posted by altopower at 11:11 AM on November 10 [2 favorites]


Grew up DEVOURING Cricket magazine. My favorite piece they ever printed was "The Ordinary Princess," which came out in installments. I think I'm going to reread it this weekend. Trina Schart Hyman's artwork takes me to a magical, faraway place. (I also loved her covers for the "Dealing With Dragons" series.)

When I was 10 or 11, I wrote a letter to Cricket saying I liked the cover artwork by an artist (not Hyman). A few months later I got a big cardboard tube MAILED to ME (a huge deal to get mail in the mailbox!). In it was a big full-color poster print by the same artist, with a note from the artist that they were glad I liked their artwork. Not only was the artist awesome for sending a print to a random kid, the Cricket staff had been kind enough to forward my letter to the artist. Classy folks, all around.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 11:12 AM on November 10 [16 favorites]


It's good, you just have to be prepared to roll your eyes and skip to the next story sometimes.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:12 AM on November 10


I seem to be the rare person that didn't read Cricket as a child. However, after hearing a recommendation from Grant Barrett on A Way With Words, I ordered two of the junior versions for my twin granddaughters. I now have four grandkids who get a collection of subscriptions tailored to their ages, and they have seemed happy with all of them (except one of the older ones who wanted Nat Geo Kids because she's more into animals than literature).

I have to say the part of the article that resonated most with me is the first paragraph, where the author notes that Cricket is now a large, impersonal, faceless company that doesn't answer the phone. Their subscription people could all die in a fire without saddening me in any way. Seriously, they always screw up the subscriptions and the last time (a couple months ago) I called to straighten it out they informed me that they'd never heard of me. After various Mark Brothers antics, we found that all four subscriptions were shown as being sent by the youngest--a three year old.

They informed me with a straight face that they were real sorry they'd forgotten to send that month's issues to the four year old and one of the eight year olds, and they were out of stock already so they'd extend the two subscriptions "as a courtesy." So now all four don't end at the same time ... "as a courtesy."

Everyone's inspiring stories of their childhood love of the magazine has inspired me to keep fighting the Cricket Subscription Trolls to see that the grandkids can one day flood Metafilter with their own fond memories. Thanks.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 11:14 AM on November 10 [3 favorites]


It's strange: the name rings a bell, and I read kids magazines like Owl and World and Highlights in the early to mid-70s, but if I Google up images of Cricket covers I'm not recognizing a thing.

Same; I wonder if I'm confusing it with Chickadee in some sort of small creature-titled children's magazine melange.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:21 AM on November 10


I used to get Cricket forwarded to me in Europe! (Though the subscription team sucked even then because they used to send every single issue to Australia and then someone in Perth had to reroute it to Europe. Took two months.)

But now they don‘t ship to Europe (or Australia!) anymore and I‘m super sad because I want my kids to grow up with cricket, too.
posted by Omnomnom at 11:23 AM on November 10


Well-meaning adults were always getting me subscriptions, but I never read it because I preferred rereading my Narnia books and Shoes books and by the time that was over, okay, so that never actually ended, the reread pile just keeps growing. Honestly, Cricket always looked so grey and brown and educational.

I subscribed to the New Yorker in junior high, but always skipped the short stories, probably because I didn't have that Cricket foundation.
posted by betweenthebars at 11:26 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


I remember I used to get Chickadee then Owl then Cricket. A friend got Ranger Rick and it never seemed nearly as good.
The illustrations were delightful. Looks like they still are.
posted by PennD at 11:30 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


I know causation is not correlation, but we seem to be tracking almost 100% for Cricket Magazine determining future Metafilter membership.

Consider me your token outlier. It sounds like a great magazine, but I'd never heard of it until now.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:31 AM on November 10


Yeah, I had this too.

The two things I remember (maybe not from Cricket, but I think so?) were:
(a) a story about a girl who really hated eating breakfast and preferred lunch, because I did too
(b) a prequel story by Lloyd Alexander about how Eilonwy's parents met, illustrated by Trina. It was beautiful.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:35 AM on November 10


The public library let us check out old issues when I was a kid, which I loved. It never occurred to me until now that this was an actual magazine people could subscribe to, and not just for libraries and schools.
posted by bluefly at 11:42 AM on November 10


I remember the Brothers Lionheart excerpt very well. Apparently we had a subscription from the beginning or close to the beginning, then. That and Ranger Rick were my favorite magazines as a child. Anyone who has a current subscription - would it be a good fit for a 5 year old who already reads quite well, or would one of the younger age range magazines be better?
posted by tavella at 11:51 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


I had to settle for that cheap knockoff Grasshopper magazine as a kid because my parents couldn't afford Cricket. All the stories were upbeat, and all the poetry rhymed. [fake]
posted by clawsoon at 11:52 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


Look, you don’t need a child in your life to subscribe to Cricket and consume it on your own, as an adult, if you so desire. Because you are an adult and you get to decide what you spend money on. Isn’t life grand?
posted by shalom at 11:55 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


I sometimes wonder what happened with Sluggo and the gang.
posted by Megafly at 12:05 PM on November 10 [3 favorites]


We're also getting Ranger Rick, which seems to be a crowd-pleaser, too.

ranger rick i remember but cricket is drawing a great big blank. it looks like something i would have aggressively and obsessively devoured so maybe i did in fact have it briefly and it Became A Problem wherein i would clutch them like gollum and bite anyone who tried to relieve me of them.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:07 PM on November 10


I adored Ladybug and Cricket growing up. They weren't sold in my country, but somehow my mother's friend had them and I would read them in her office. I couldn't (and still can't) believe anything so lovely existed and just came out on a regular basis. I even got to take some of them home, and honestly, I still sort of treasure them. I'd have done anything for an actual subscription of my own as a child. Now, every time someone I love has a baby I go to buy them one, only to be reminded that they still only ship to the US and Canada. What's that about?? Apparently there are digital subscriptions, but it's just not the same.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 12:12 PM on November 10


I have to say the part of the article that resonated most with me is the first paragraph, where the author notes that Cricket is now a large, impersonal, faceless company that doesn't answer the phone. Their subscription people could all die in a fire without saddening me in any way. Seriously, they always screw up the subscriptions...

THis his been my (well, my mother’s) experience as well. But my 12 year old daughter absolutely loves the magazine and has for years (she started with Ladybug and may have had others from that group as well). A new issue in the mailbox is one of the few things that can make her put her iPad down; typically she devours it as quickly as possible. The fact that she hasn’t outgrown it yet speaks volumes as to the quality of their work; she generally reads adult literature (Nineteen Eighty-Four, for example) for entertainment now. I hope they get their subscription department in order if that is their only source of income.

I was ten years old when it started but don’t remember it from childhood. I did have subscriptions to some of the other magazines mentioned in this thread, but the one I liked best was something (if I remember correctly) was called “Kids: the magazine by kids for kids.” Its selling point was that most of the editorial staff were kids in the 10-18 year old age range. Unfortunately it seems to have pretty much vanished, as I can’t find anything about it on the internet. I wonder if my mother still has any old copies tucked away in her house. I would hate to think I imagined the whole thing.
posted by TedW at 12:41 PM on November 10


Oh man, oh man. Of course I loved it. I spent a lot of time in my family clinic waiting room after school, so I read a lot of Cricket.

What it particularly did for me was to introduce me to Jewish content. I would never have read Jewish characters and folktales at that age without Cricket. Eventually I even got a copy of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Stories for Children.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:58 PM on November 10 [1 favorite]


The Cricket comics were so beautiful.
posted by roger ackroyd at 1:59 PM on November 10 [1 favorite]


I loved Cricket, and I'm happily providing some younger relatives with their own dose of Cricket.
posted by rmd1023 at 2:09 PM on November 10


For a while after Cricket I moved on to a magazine called Agora. This apparently was aimed at "gifted students," a phrase that always makes me cringe, but it was really interesting. I remember there was one issue about the Etruscans, and another with short stories and poems from Eastern Europe (which would have come out around the time of the collapse of Communism). It seems to have left practically no trace online, though.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 3:00 PM on November 10


I had a subscription to Cricket back in the mid-to-late 70s. So much time has passed that the only thing I specifically remember about it at this point was that it was how I learned that "bitch" describes a female dog. The more you know!
posted by kimota at 3:07 PM on November 10


I can't remember whether I quickly warmed to Bloom County because it reminded me of Cricket and Ladybug or if it was the other way around. Probably the former.
posted by straight at 3:11 PM on November 10 [3 favorites]


Oh the little comics in the margins! There was one that must have spanned over months where they like... found a praying mantis and it was from the past or something and they had to teach it all these things and one of the bugs was really scared of it? (It's been a long time) I remember spending a while summer day once putting all my issues in order so I could read that storyline start to finish! Cricket warm fuzzies! I had no idea it was still going but that makes me so happy.
posted by augustimagination at 3:31 PM on November 10 [4 favorites]


The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren

Ah, thank you--this story has hovered at the edge of my memory for years.

Cricket readers, do you remember a story about a nautilus shell? Illustrated in bluish-green, maybe as though by moonlight? And the word (name?) Tuan in the story? I have wondered about this for years, but haven't been able to track down an index of stories published in Cricket.

Thanks, goatdog--good share.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:20 PM on November 10 [1 favorite]


It meant a lot to me too. I still can recite some poems i read there as a kid.

Trina Schart Hyman was probably the first illustrator I knew by name and loved.

Quentin Blake might have been second.
posted by edheil at 7:23 PM on November 10 [2 favorites]


I loved that magazine so much!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:43 PM on November 10


My people!

Cricket is one of a handful of just absolutely perfect, uncomplicated memories that are pure joy. I must have re-read every issue hundreds of times, and every time it came it was a perfect treat. I loved the comic strip, and the illustrations that were one color plus black and white; they were all gorgeous. I was a Reader, and Cricket definitely fed that.

(Incidentally, I swear to God I think I can remember Faint of Butt's award-winning drawing. I probably had a subscription from about 1988 or '89 until maybe '95 or '96 at the absolute latest. Same time period?)

I have a New Yorker sub that makes me happy but my rule with the fiction is that if I start reading it and it's about a middle-aged white man in an unhappy marriage I am allowed to stop reading it. I don't read a ton of New Yorker fiction is what I'm saying.
posted by kalimac at 8:08 PM on November 10 [5 favorites]


But now they don‘t ship to Europe (or Australia!) anymore and I‘m super sad because I want my kids to grow up with cricket, too.

Yeah, I was really sad when I learned they don't do international shipping, but this year when I'm in the US at Christmas I'm going to subscribe to Cricket and give my mom a stack of stamped, addressed manila envelopes so she can forward them. We'll get them a week late, almost as good!
posted by lollymccatburglar at 11:53 PM on November 10 [1 favorite]


Cricket magazine! Good memories!
posted by triage_lazarus at 4:57 AM on November 11


Altopower: I was terrified by that story too! Boy and brother hide in the basement, and the cliffhanger between issues is they look up and the house is just gone.

Augustimagination: I think the praying mantis got thawed out of ice? And was named Elvis, probably by Ladybug?
posted by nonane at 4:58 AM on November 11 [2 favorites]


nonane: YES that's what it was!!!
posted by augustimagination at 8:12 AM on November 11 [1 favorite]


If I'm remembering right, TSH started with just Cricket and Ladybug and kept periodically adding insects 'til there was a whole crew. Wasn't there a worm? And maybe a little... maybe he was a flea? Named H.A. or something? H.O.? I may be mixing up the flea with the littlest sibling in The Wouldbegoods. I sold all my Crickets in a garage sale. I wish I had not done that.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:18 AM on November 11 [2 favorites]


Oh, I loved Cricket so much. I wish I still had all those early issues.
posted by bink at 7:49 PM on November 11


I was just looking at Google images from the magazine, awash in nostalgia. I remember the original format, which was a thing I really loved about it. That thick spine, it wasn't like getting a magazine every month, it was like getting a book. You knew when it came in that you weren't just going to sit on your bed and flip through it quickly, you knew you were going to set aside some time for it.
posted by bink at 8:15 PM on November 11 [1 favorite]


Introducing Everybuggy
posted by superna at 9:39 PM on November 11 [11 favorites]


The magazine that introduced me to Ursula K. Le Guin, Kurt Vonnegut, Tintin and (unless I'm very badly misremembering) Philip K. Dick, via an article explaining etymology and the genesis of "Horselover Fat."

Imagine that: an allusion to VALIS in a children's magazine, and a relevant and meaningful one at that. The past really was a different place.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:34 AM on November 12


I loved Cricket too, and wish there were kids in my family who would enjoy it so I could pass on the love.
posted by snaw at 8:15 AM on November 12


It was Highlights magazine in waiting rooms for us. And Dynamite magazine. But I longed for the unattainable Cricket.
posted by mecran01 at 5:31 AM on November 13


I was an early and voracious reader, and we had no money. But I had a subscription to Cricket. Thank you Mom.
posted by initapplette at 9:28 AM on November 13 [1 favorite]


I love cricket, but I was also delighted to see that New Moon still exists. I paged through the PDF and I'd be interested to know if anyone has girls that still read it!
posted by mosst at 11:56 AM on November 13


There was a similar magazine aimed at slightly older children called Cobblestones, I recall. I remember when my mother transferred my subscriptions to it, but I don't have the same memories of reading it that I do for Cricket.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 7:11 AM on November 17


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