Cricket still a literary giant with little people


Chicago-based magazine celebrates 30 years By Russell Jaffe



Cricket magazine first hopped into the world 30 years ago. Since then the Chicago-based publication has been to children what The New Yorker is to literature-loving adults-essential reading.

Cricket founders Marianne and Blouke Carus started the magazine with the idea that children deserve great literature at their level.

"Cricket means the best art, the best stories for children, and we respect children's intelligence," says Deborah Vetter, executive editor of Cricket and its sister publication, Cicada. "We provide a multicultural view, and we publish authors from all over the world and all different cultures and backgrounds.

"We never talk down to them," says Vetter. "That's something we feel is very important."

Drawing on old and new writers by printing exclusive stories as well as reprints of great writers, Cricket has a mainstream audience in young people interested in stories, poems and illustrations. The publications convey positive messages.

And although the times have changed over 30 years, Cricket still holds kids in high esteem as its target readers.

Cricket was the first magazine for Carus Publishing Co., which has offices in both Chicago and downstate Peru. The company now puts out 15 publications for preschooler to teenager, including Ladybug for ages 2 to 6, Spider for 6 to 9, Cricket for 9 to 14, and Cicada for teens.

"I like how they do a lot of poems and I like how the stories teach some things about friendship and how you should treat others," says Melina Murphy, an 8-year-old and an avid Ladybug reader.

To celebrate its anniversary, Cricket has spent the last year scheduling parties and literary entertainment for kids and teens.

"Cricket has been traveling to libraries and bookstores around the country reading," says Vetter. "The writers and illustrators who have appeared in Cricket read their stories and do crafts with the kids. It's been very successful."

"I liked the illustrations and the fun things you could do," says Esther Hunt, now 20, who read Cricket from age 10 to 13. "I think it really speaks for kids because it's so geared toward kids, because of the writing and drawings and things for them to do. It really interests them."

Cricket is no stranger to formal praise either, winning eight Parents' Choice Awards between 1991 to 2004, the Society of Midland Authors' Excellence in Children's Literature in 1984 and the Ed Press Golden Lamp Award in 1995.

You can find more about Cricket, Carus Publishing and the 30th anniversary at


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