Tuesday, 21 August 2012

A closer look at Anorak and Ploc - two happy magazines for kids

As the long hot (and sometimes extremely wet) summer draws to a close, and the television and shops are bombarded by those depressing "Back to School" ads, there's still plenty of fun to be had in the closing weeks of the holidays.

We were lucky enough to be sent Anorak and Ploc magazine to review by Anorak Press. Anorak and Ploc proudly stand apart from the usual 'trashy plastic gift' magazines that infest local supermarket shelves and dipping into the magazines the first thing that hits you like a freight train is the sheer quality of their production.

Printed on really high quality paper, with full colour throughout, both magazines certainly look far different to most printed publications for children. Anorak is published 5 times a year and is aimed at 6-12 year olds. Despite this, there was plenty in the magazine that caught Charlotte's attention (especially the cover art - which is instantly appealing and absolutely begs browsers to take a closer look inside).

With a mix of stories, comic strips and activities, Anorak came with a bonus cover-mounted puzzle magazine called Goober the Goblin which contained a good mix of brain teasers, slapstick hilarity and even some great educational stuff that felt more like fun than learning.

Charlotte fell completely in love with the Munkie and Horace photostory (picture to the right). The story of a bear's move to New Zealand (lucky, lucky bear!) it's a sweet little tale that was beautifully shot and composed.

Elsewhere in Anorak, it was quite surprising to see adverts but don't be put off, the ads are so subtle and well done that you'd swear they were part of the magazine (in fact it was only when my wife pointed them out that I noticed them). The product reviews at the front of the magazine were actually for fun and innovative products that you wouldn't normally see covered in kid's mags so again they were something different and quite eye catching.

Above all though, Anorak absolutely clamours quality mainly because of the artwork. From the surreal picture feature about a rock star, to the comic strips and panel photo spreads, it's the sort of magazine that kids can come back to again and again rather than just sticking stickers all over it and binning it a week later (which has been our experience of most of the mainstream 'TV-Driven' magazines so far). Anorak can be obtained directly from Anorak Press or from leading independent booksellers / WH Smiths. Price: £6.99 every 5 months.

Moving onto Ploc, this magazine is something really special. In keeping with Olympic-mania, the summery edition is given over to sports and pastimes. Lovingly illustrated by legendary children's artist Alain Gree, once again Ploc absolutely screams great quality from the outset. Again with a mix of puzzles and activities, Gree's art style instantly puts a smile on the face of anyone browsing through the magazine and though there's plenty of educational content, once again like Anorak it doesn't feel at all like learning, just really good fun.

Ploc's busy little panels chock full of detail underpin the more traditional magazine mainstays of colouring and drawing - The only drawback I can think of was that we loved the magazine so much we couldn't bear the thought of defacing it by colouring, cutting or scribbling on it (you'll just have to buy two!)

Ad-free and the perfect little magazine for children to browse through at home, in the car or on holiday, it's a superb quality product that deserves to become a collector's classic. Price: £7.00 and available from Anorak direct or good stockists.

Anorak Magazine

Charlotte's best bit: Munkie and Horace. "I Want my own Horace!"

Daddy's favourite bit: Such a great quality product, really rugged and can stand up to the rigours of children manhandling it. Fantastic stories to read at bedtime was a real bonus.

Summary: Don't let the price put you off as the 5-monthly Anorak actually works out far cheaper than the equivalent throwaway magazines, is a collectible classic and will be around a lot longer than your average trashy TV-based mag and its cheesy free gift. Absolutely loads to do with the inclusion of a bonus Goober the Goblin Puzzle Magazine too. 

Ploc Magazine

Charlotte's best bit: The Topsy Turvy Story (Red Riding Hood) - such a great idea!

Daddy's favourite bit: Alain Gree's superb artwork, but Ploc is just such a fantastic quality product throughout.

Summary: We seriously hope some of our independent bookstores start stocking Anorak and Ploc, we'll certainly be getting both again.