February 10, 2024
It's been a minute. How are you?
I hope you're up and running into 2024. January always drags a bit for us, but I still love the winter sky, the promise of a new year, and the chance to begin again.
So, I'm right back at it: putting the finishing touches on Kazoo's 32nd issue. (!!!) When I'm writing a new issue, I say goodbye to the kids in the morning and sometimes don't look up from my computer all day. When my alarm rings, "School pick up," I yell, "Already???" It's fun to get lost in the flow, but it can feel a little, well, isolating, so I'm happy to take some time today to look around and catch up with you.
Here's some good I've come across in 2024:
• You're Not Hardcore (No, You're Not Hardcore!): If School of Rock is as popular in your house as it is ours, it won't surprise you to know that it was also written by Mike White, the man behind White Lotus. And if you ever wondered why you love Jack Black so much, too, maybe it's because he was raised right: Jack Black's mom, Judith Love Cohen was a NASA aerospace engineer and an advocate for women’s rights, and even wrote a children’s book titled You Can Be a Woman Engineer. Way Hardcore!
• Speaking of Rocks: Really fun story about a dad who noticed something peculiar on his 2yo's bedroom wall that led him to a "profound cosmic revelation."
• Can AI buy all the books, too? They might have to. Seems like everyone is really jazzed about this AI stuff. Even the new CEO of Random House says, "Hopefully, A.I. will help, making it easier to publish more titles without hiring ever more employees." Wow, books without writers or editors? Okaaaay. To my surprise, my very own books, How to Sew a Button and How to Build a Firewere used to train AI without my knowledge or consent, in order to ... teach the computer how to write more books just like mine. (Ok, I don't totally understand the purpose of all this. Or want to.) Perhaps the robots can indeed pirate our grandparents' wisdom which I spent years learning and reporting; it wouldn't be the worst thing to teach them. I have my doubts about them serving the grandkids a slice of pie, though.
• Kill Your TV 2.0: A groundbreaking study shows kids learn better on paper, not screens. Now what? (Ahem. May we suggest a subscription to a certain magazine?)
• The Little Magazine that Could: I'm pretty proud of this piece I wrote for Pages magazine about why I launched Kazoo. Please read, and share, and send to anyone who might want to subscribe--or give me a pot of gold. We could really use help keep this thing going!
*I did not choose this pull-quote.
• What would you do if your child refused to go to school?: When editor Lauri Hornik's daughter Ruby was struggling with anxiety, it inspired her to start a new book imprint focused on mental health books for kids, and Rocky Pond Books was born. Ruby says she hopes her mom's books, such as, Where to Start: A Survival Guide to Anxiety, Depression, and Other Mental Health Challenges, will help other kids, too.
• Protecting Families: Mayor Pete says, "Our family deserves to be protected ... I will admit it's a little bit difficult driving the family minivan to drop our kids off at daycare, passing the dome of the Capitol knowing the speaker of the House doesn't even think our family ought to exist." I hear you, Pete.
• Speaking of All Families: GLAAD-award-winning website Mombian wrote this very kind review of Kazoo. She also keeps a database of great books for LGBT+ kids and families, so if you'd like to diversify your library, check out her list. She's collected over 1,400 books!
• Do you think you're a cool parent? "On the internet, being a parent seems outrageously lame." I'm not sure I've ever been "cool" IRL (and my 12yo would likely agree), but I don't think I got into all this for the cool factor. Did you?
• And if you're not a parent: Lynda Barry says, "At least once a month, I spend a whole day in bed, and I read comics and drink beer." Which is not something a parent can do! But doesn't it sound sort of AMAZING? If you can do this in your life, please tell me all about it.
• Real Life vs Social Media: One tweeter says, "True trad wives are from the Midwest or Appalachia, and we know how to make taco casserole and also how to use all parts of a pig. We wear pants and cook aggressively." Here's one such trad-wife making "Taco Tater-Tot Casserole." I don't know that I would attempt this dish, but I kind of love her.
• Comfort, food: The news of the world is mostly terrible, again. (What is it with you, world?) And so I've been trying to focus on what's good. An easy (perhaps not world-changing) way is making some overly-complicated food. I made this Butternut Squash Lasagna, which took forever! I made a lovely Apple Tart! I made a French Onion Soup! I made Puppy Chow! (Okay that last one did not take forever, and it did not last for long, either. But it was comforting.)
*Maybe the prettiest tart I've ever made.
• Wait, maybe she's addicted to PR? I used to think these book-banners were nuts, and sure some of them probably are, but they’re also opportunistic. See the story of the “mysterious woman” who confessed that a Scholastic book gave her a porn addiciton. She also happens to do PR for a competing right-wing book fair company. Huh? After her compelling testimony, the school board voted to ban that particular book, and switch all their book fairs from Scholastic to her right-wing book company.
• See, also: “Burr, since when are you a Democratic Republican? Since being one put me on the up-and-up-again.” Which is the exact thing I think every time I hear one of these stories, courtesy of my kids' love of Hamilton, and the 387+ replays on our long car trips.
• Do you think people do this to GQ?: Another bit of reader mail asking me to kindly point them in the direction of a boys magazine just like Kazoo—and if I can't, then please explain why? I really don't know how to answer this! If anyone wants to give me an editorial staff and 24 more hours in a day, then maybe I could do it, but it's only me and I'm pretty busy here already! I think of Lin-Manual Miranda saying, "“Every time you make a frame, people are going to point out what’s not in the frame," (Well he might sing this part,) "And you go and you make the next thing. That’s all that you can do, keep your head down and keep making --it.”
Her 2nd Broadway show! We've been singing Nonstop nonstop.
• What we're watching: Our 12yo went to see Mean Girls (but preferred the original), and our 8yo is not watching much TV really. If she has any screen, she's being a Warrior Cat on Roblox or following drawing tutorials. After the kids are asleep, we recently laughed all through Quiz Lady. We finally felt strong enough to finish the latest season of The Handmaids Tale, and we just started The Feud, mostly to see the great cast (though I can barely stand Truman). Oh, and we're trying to stay awake during an entire episode of True Detective, because we love you Jodie, but you know—WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING?
• What we're reading: Lisa Yee (who wrote the short story for our Fun Issue (#29) hit the NYT bestseller list with a new book, The Misfits. Friend of Kazooand frequent contributor Lucy Knisley has a new kids picture book out Ride Beside Me (and she's going on book tour so you can actually meet her and get a book, too). Veera Hiranandani, who wrote our short story in our DIY Issue (#20), has a new book out, Amil and the After, which is getting all starred reviews. At bedtime, we're on the second Wild Robot book (stressful but beloved) and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
• Another banger: Put a Google alert on “kazoo magazine” and you'll get some interesting stuff—though not all of it is related to our magazine (and some of it makes me wonder why oh why I ever chose this title). But this hit was nice: Sheryl Crow, Jimmy Fallon & The Roots Sing "All I Wanna Do" (with kazoos!) Brings me back to the days, when I interviewed her. The last time I did, I got scared to back out through her security gate, so instead I made a 497-point turn in her narrow driveway, while desperately hoping she wasn't watching me through her kitchen window.
• Thank you for being here.
I'm diving back into Kazoo #32, which will be in your mailbox in just a few weeks. I really hope you love it!
In the meantime, if you come across anything interesting, please send it my way. You can always find me at email@example.com.
Founder & Editor-in-Chief
Kazoo is an award-winning, ad-free, indie magazine for girls, 5 to 12, that celebrates them for being strong, smart, fierce and true to themselves. It's published quarterly in Brooklyn, New York and is sold all around the world.