January 21, 2022

Southern Illinois University: Publishing: Morris Library Acquires ‘Cricket’ Children’s Literary Magazine Records

From Southern Illinois University (Carbondale):

The records of “Cricket,” the trend-setting children’s literary magazine, can now be found at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Morris Library Special Collections Research Center.

Marianne Carus, the founder and former editor of the first children’s literature magazine, along with her husband, Blouke, and son, Andre, donated the collection to SIU. The collection includes 170 boxes of archival materials, including illustrations, literary manuscripts and printed materials, along with a complete set of the magazine prints. In addition to the early records and actual magazine collection, the donation features correspondence from well-known authors, illustrators and publishing industry professionals, according to Pam Hackbart-Dean, director of the Special Collections Research Center.

“We are proud to welcome the Cricket Literary Magazine Collection to its new home in Morris Library’s Special Collections. ‘Cricket’ made an enormous contribution to children’s literature and art in the United States,” Hackbart-Dean said. “Now, these very records offer a rich resource of academic research potential.”

Open Court Publishing’s Marianne Carus conceived “Cricket Magazine,” determined to create a publication for children that was comparable to “The New Yorker.” The plan was greeted enthusiastically by acclaimed authors, illustrators and leading people in the publishing industry. The magazine launched in 1973 as the only children’s magazine dedicated to literature. It featured the work of groundbreaking illustrator Trina Schart Hyman, and popular children’s author Lloyd Alexander was a major contributor, often sharing words of wisdom under the moniker “Old Cricket.” They, along with literary editor Clifton Fadiman, helped make the magazine a big success.

The publication sought to stimulate in young readers a sense of curiosity, imagination and a wonder about history, art, science and world culture through new stories and adaptations of works by celebrated authors interpreted by award-winning illustrators, Hackbart-Dean said. “Cricket” in turn inspired a line of literary magazines appealing to children of varying ages, including “Babybug,” “Ladybug” and “Spider” for those just learning to read alone, and “Cicada” for young adults.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.