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Spider is an illustrated literary magazine designed for children from 6 to 9 years old. Started in January 1994, the magazine is published in the United States by The Cricket Magazine Group, which is owned by the Carus Publishing Company. The headquarters of the magazine is in Chicago, Illinois. The magazine tells original short stories, poems, nonfiction articles, activities, games and illustrations from world famous authors. It also has art and writing contests in each issue and publishes work created by its readers.
The magazine is published every month, except for combined May–June, July–August, and November–December issues.
Every issue of Spider is 40 pages long and includes a few recurring sections throughout every magazine.
Notably, there is an illustrated cast of insects that appear in the margins of every page, similar to a comic strip. They include Ophelia the praying mantis, Sam the caterpillar, Sonya the damselfly, Thistle the weevil, Miro the French mushroom, and Spider the spider, who the magazine is named after. The bugs are involved in their own story line throughout each issue, but they also comment on the articles or stories above them. Each insect also has their own personality and specific interest, which dictates their specific section in the magazine; for example, Miro loves food so he can be found in the kitchen or the recipe section of each issue.
Also found in each issue:
- Spider's Mailbox is the opening section of the magazine, where reader's letters, comments, and questions and are displayed.
- Doodlebug & Dandelion is an ongoing short story written by Pamela Dell, where each issue has a new storyline.
- Spider's Corner is a portion of the magazine that includes art, story writing, and poetry contests for kids to enter, either by writing to the magazine or online. It also includes the winning entries of previous contests.
- Ophelia's Last Word is on the last page of every issue, where Ophelia gives out a piece of wisdom, an idea, an activity or introduces the themes for the next issue of the magazine.
- There is also a four page spread of take-out pages that include an activity for kids to do.
As with all the other magazines published by The Cricket Magazine Group, Spider accepts absolutely no advertising.
In June 2008, Cricket, Spider, and Ladybug magazines now have new web sites for their children readers and families. The three new websites present the individual style of the magazine and are built around the signature characters that appear in the margins of every issue. The focus of the website is to increase learning interaction in a different way with children, with moderated forums, question pools, contests and opportunities to comment on what is being read. There are also interactive games, stories, and more.
The magazine was a 2007 and 2008 winner of a Gold Parents' Choice Award for excellence in children's publishing. Collectively, the 14 magazines under the Cricket Magazine Group have won every award in North America, including the Association of Educational Publishers Golden Lamp Award and the Parent's Guide to Children's Media Award.
Cricket Magazine Group was started over 35 years ago and currently publishes 8 children's literary magazines. Including Spider, there's Babybug, Ladybug, and Cricket. The last four magazines are a line of non-fiction collections devoted to the sciences, arts and humanities: Cicada, Click, Ask, and Muse.
- Babybug is an illustrated magazine for children ages 6 months to 3 years old. Each issue presents nursery rhymes such as Mother Goose, basic concepts, and simple stories about a baby's world. Each issue is made of 24 cardboard pages, with rounded corners, non-toxic glue and ink, and no staples.
- Ladybug is for children ages 2 to 6 years of age. It features original stories, poems, non-fiction articles on the naturals and cultural world, songs, games and activities—all of which introduce children to language and reading.
- Cricket is for kids ages 9 to 14 years old. The magazine publishes stories, poems, folk tales, articles and illustrations by well-known authors and illustrators, including Lloyd Alexander and Wallace Tripp.
- Cicada is a magazine for teenagers, who are more experienced with reading. The issues are usually 48 pages long, filled with stories and poems that are more thought-provoking than the younger editions.
- Click magazine is for children, who are interested in learning more about science and exploration. It explains such topics as how the world works? what is an insect? how do planes work? etc.
- Ask is a children's magazine that discusses science, history and more. It dives into topics such as dinosaurs, stars and important monuments throughout the world.
- Muse magazine is similar to Ask. However, it's for kids from 9 to 14 years old and includes stories and articles about art, anthropology, zoology, and more.