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No kidding, Scoop!'s seriously clever

Blog | By Valerie Grove | Aug 29, 2017

Grandparents in the 1950s would subscribe to The Young Elizabethan magazine for their offsprings’ offspring. At 12, I found it intellectually challenging, but at least it had Molesworth, the greatest schoolboy in the universe, as any fule kno. In the 1970s, when I had children, there was Puffin Post: a daughter won a Golden Ticket to visit Roald Dahl at home. And now I am the grandmother, seeking a magazine to amuse two little girls on holiday. So I latched on to Scoop! – ‘A Kaleidoscope of Creative Genius for Kids’. It’s bright and breezy, addressing readers as ‘Scoopers’,  but decidedly bookish – clearly aimed at the screen-endangered eight to thirteens.   

 Scoop! proved a hit. In the first issue we opened, Scoop!’s founder, Clementine Macmillan-Scott, announced, ‘This month we are discussing feminism.’ A winning subject with Elfie, aged seven, who piped up that she had already heard about ‘the Something-Gettes’, from Horrible Histories. She knew about Miss Emily Davison throwing herself under the King’s horse. ‘So the men said, “We can’t give women the vote if they do silly things like that!”‘ said Elfie.  

Flicking through the pages, I find Joanna Lumley launching a poetry contest and commending WB Yeats’s poem 'The Cat and the Moon'. The Times science editor, Tom Whipple, asked whether scientists should tinker with embryo DNA for cosmetic reasons. And Imogen Lycett-Green introduced the haiku. There are book reviews, word-search puzzles, comic strips, crosswords, recipes and jokes along the lines of ‘What’s green and always happy?’ ‘Lettuce with a gladsome mind.’ It may sometimes fall into the trap of too many exclamation marks!! But Scoop! is literate and unpatronising. Chris Priestley, author of Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror, selects favourite objects and includes A Pencil. He explains, ‘Everything good in my life has come out of my being able to draw.’ (I was so pleased by that ‘my’.) As for the PUP (Parents Under Pressure) quiz, I could answer only two questions out of fifteen. Kitty and Elfie got nine, including what colour is a Squirtle? (Blue – a Pokémon character). ‘Though we don’t like Pokémon,’ they said.

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