Enter Wondertime. It might have been serendipity the first time I stumbled across the magazine in my doctor's office last August. I was getting ready to visit my best friend from childhood, who at age 40 was 9 months pregnant with her first child. Her due date was on my birthday, so I already felt a special connection to the kid.
I remember reading the magazine and thinking, wow, this is actually interesting. The tone is decidedly upbeat, but it's hip, too. Not one to deprive another trapped person the chance to read something good, I didn't steal the magazine from the waiting room. But I did go to a newsstand and buy the latest issue, which I read cover-to-cover and then passed on to my girlfriend, who ended up having the baby a week after my visit.
Milo is almost a year old now and his mom and I both subscribe to Wondertime. I also have given gift subscriptions to two of my other good friends with toddlers. The magazine is geared toward parents of infants through age 8, and I suspect those subscriptions will get renewed at least for the next few years.
I read the latest issue cover-to-cover on the plane during another visit to Milo and his mom. I was fascinated with the article on bikes. Milo is still a year or so away from the trike rider, but I can't wait to buy him one. I hadn't really considered all the skills that bikes teach kids until reading the two-page article, which features pictures and short writeups of the different bikes kids ride as they grow. The author also includes prices and where-to-buy info with the article itself, which I love. (I never use those "where to buy" compilation pages some magazines run in the back of an issue -- I get a headache just glancing at them.)
Wondertime's Web site states that the magazine mixes playful activities and everyday adventures with compelling insights into the fascinating ways children develop physically, socially, intellectually, creatively and emotionally. The content strikes a nice balance between the fun and the serious. The kids in my life aren't yet old enough to do any of the suggested activities, but I can envision being inspired by some of them in the future. And the brief articles about child development are kind of a how-to manual for better understanding kids -- something both parents and non-parents can use.
The well-written essays by parents are by turns poignant and hilarious. In "A Father Is Born," Wondertime senior writer Jeff Wagenheim details the birth of his first child including the nitty-gritty details of his wife's labor and his efforts to assist. The article is cleverly illustrated with pictures of Wagenheim Photoshopped into scenes with famous dad characters such as Rob Petrie from "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and Darrin Stephens from "Bewitched."
In "Book It," Elizabeth Larsen writes about a trip she took with her sons inspired by the book The Birchbark House. The article includes a sidebar with other books and travels they could inspire. Finally, in "14 Crossings," Ken Sonenclar chronicles an eight-hour "adventure" with his two kids over 10 bridges and four tunnels around Manhattan. I was wiping tears of laughter from my eyes by the end of the piece .
Don't these sound like interesting articles for anyone to read, not just a parent? Well, they are, I assure you.
If you don't have kids in your house, the recipes and play activities are only worth a skim. But I learned something interesting, even though I don't have anyone to make "asparagus in blankets" for: Do you know why there's an odd smell to your urine after eating asparagus? OK, I won't make you Google: it's the sulfur in the vegetable that produces the distinctive, errr, aroma. But only about 40% of us are genetically predisposed to detect the odor. You don't say! The magazine's Web site states that it is dedicated to helping parents nurture their children's love of learning. "A blend of how and why, Wondertime inspires parents to see the world through the eyes of their children, and to celebrate the wonder of this all-too-fleeting time. We hereby give parents permission to revel in the simple joys of raising a child, and to view the world as their children do -- as an awe-inspiring place."
I know from the stories my friends tell that they certainly don't feel like that all the time. But you've got to give Wondertime props for trying to bring out the best in people, both parents and non-parents alike.
Published by: Disney Publishing Worldwide