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



Spring 2016 Magazines
Ages: 9 - 14 yrs.
Newsstand Price: $6.95
Subscription Price: $33.95 / 9 Issues

The merger of Muse with sister publication Odyssey in 2015 has brought changes that, while not diminishing the magazine's overall quality, have in some ways altered its nature. The new design, revealed in the last two issues of 2015, seems to skew more toward the older age range of the Muse readership, while more closely adhering to public education-focused S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). The high caliber of the magazine's intelligent, informative content, however-recent subjects include "100 Years of General Relativity," nanotechnology, a teenage cancer researcher, the future of biofuels, and developments in clean water technology-remains the same. The one head-scratcher is that Muse is now Muse-less. The slick, punchy new design has come at the expense of the element that had framed the magazine's multilayered content with unique charm: nine signature cartoon "Muses" that represented the areas of animals, plants, hardware, software, and more. Stars of a regular comic strip, they had been sprinkled throughout the magazine's pages, observing, questioning and commenting. That readers felt a personal connection with these offbeat characters, and considered them a way into the magazine's serious content, is evident from past letters' pages. Their replacement is a cast of multicultural, albeit somewhat homogenized, cartoon teens. While unhappy fans have already made their feelings known, it's too soon to tell if this is a stumble, or a step forward.

Lynne Heffley   ©2016 Parents' Choice
A freelance writer and editor for the arts and non-profit organizations, Lynne is a former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, where she established the paper's first weekly children's arts and entertainment beat.

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