Three magazines for adults offer versions for kids

Books for children

October 17, 1990|By Molly Dunham | Molly Dunham,Evening Sun Staff

WILL A TWINKIE really last forever? Are mail-order clubs a good way to buy compact discs? How can kids cut down on the amount of water their families waste? Is Reebok's "The Pump" worth $170?

The answers can be found in Zillions: Consumer Reports for Kids. It's one of three excellent magazines for ages 8 and up. Along with Sports Illustrated for Kids and National Geographic WORLD, Zillions gives kids a timely, fun look at issues that matter to them. And all three magazines do it without talking down to kids.

* Zillions, published by the non-profit Consumers Union, began in 1980 as Penny Power. It's designed to give kids the information they need to be smart consumers. Zillions has a team of 100 kids across the country who test products, and there's a "Z" Team of another 2,000 kids who fill out questionnaires about stuff they've bought.

In the October/November issue, for instance, readers were split 50-50 on whether mail-order clubs are a smart way to buy tapes and CDs. With Columbia House, you get lots of CDs for a penny when you join, but you have to buy at least six CDs over three years, which can run as high as $80 to $100.

There's a review of 16-bit video game systems (September's issue had a head-to-head comparison of Game Boy vs. Lynx), plus a nutritional breakdown of a Twinkie: "Despite public belief, Twinkies will not last forever. The high sugar content and preservatives may keep the Twinkie you buy today from turning moldy tomorrow (and many mold-free tomorrows after that)."

A subscription to Zillions (six issues a year) is $13.95. Write Zillions, P.O. Box 54861, Boulder, Colo. 80322-4861. Schools get a reduced rate ($4.95). School orders: P.O. Box 3760, Jefferson City, Mo. 65102.

* Sports Illustrated for Kids has something for just about every kind of sports fan. Each issue has cards to collect, a fold-out poster of a famous athlete and profiles of "hotshots -- kids who are getting the most out of sports."

There's an admirable emphasis on girls involved in sports, and a favorite feature is "The worst day I ever had," where athletes tell how they rebounded from their crummiest performance. "Ask Dr. Psych" gives advice on stuff like how to avoid getting too nervous before games.

The "Legends" feature in the October issue is a profile of Joe Namath and his victory over the Colts in Super Bowl III. And every other month, "Jack B. Quick, Sports Detective" cracks another case. A year's subscription (12 issues) is $17.95. To order, call 1-800-632-1300.

* The day National Geographic WORLD arrives in the mail, kids might have a hard time wresting it away from their folks. As you might expect, the photography is sensational, and the subjects range from wildlife and environmental cleanup to anthropology. Most of all, it's fun.

The October issue focuses on the comeback of the red wolf, which seemed doomed in 1970. There's an article on science museums that cater to kids, and a look at an archaeological dig in Colorado, where students learn about the cliff dwellers who lived there in the 1200s.

In September, WORLD tackled the problem of air pollution in the home, giving advice on what cleansers and sprays kids should tell their parents to avoid. There are also mazes, puzzles and geography quizzes each month. A subscription is $12.95 for 12 monthly issues. Send to National Geographic World, P.O. Box 2330, Washington, D.C. 20013.

* For kids ages 6-12, a magazine with a similar emphasis is Ranger Rick, published by the National Wildlife Federation. September's issue dealt with trash and how to reduce, recycle and reuse to cut down on the ton of garbage the average family produces each year.

There's a short story about a girl space explorer who lands on a planet that has been poisoned by mountains of garbage. The mutant creatures who live in the slimy, smelly caverns have the methane gas she needs to refuel her space pod. Of course, the planet turns out to be the one her ancestors abandoned years before -- Earth.

A companion magazine for ages 3-5 is Your Big Backyard. Subscriptions (12 monthly issues) are $15 for Ranger Rick and $12 for Your Big Backyard. To order, write National Wildlife Federation, 1400 16th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036-2266. Or call 1-800-432-6564.

* COMING ATTRACTIONS: This column will now appear every other week. On Oct. 31, check out some books about grandparents.

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