June 26, 2023
I hope that you're already weeks into an amazing summer! My NYC school kids have still got a few days left to finish the year (WHY??? It is the end of JUNE!!!) which is driving my kids a little crazy but it gives me some extra time to get this newsletter out to you before they're off for the summer. Hi.
June is Pride month, so here's a favorite photo of my wife and kids at the magical beach in Provincetown a few June's ago. If your family looks like ours, or doesn't, Happy Pride to you, too.
Our Spring included a ton of kids' birthday parties, including a SLIME-themed one for our own Teeny Editor (our best slime recipe, below). Scroll down for more of what I've dipped into this June:
• The new Barbie movie inspired these IRL examples of “She’s Everything. He’s just Ken” tweets. Which (like everything on Twitter), people got mad about. The tweeter Lizzie Logan replied, “It’s not an insult. If you’d like a ‘reverse’ list of accomplished men who had benefited from the support of their less adored female partners I refer you to any history textbook.”
• Speaking of Twitter, writer A.S. King (author of the wonderful story in our Art issue) visited a 5th grade science show featuring cool projects relating to plastic pollution, recycling, and fictional animals who might help us make a better world. Some young inventors created an Elon Musk 2.0 animal: “It benefits the earth by eating glass.” Better than the real thing.
• HUGE PUPPETS! "The Giants" are part of a street theater company called @royal_de_luxe_compagnie. They travel around the world bringing their puppets to the streets. All of the performances tell a different story. I want to see them at Brooklyn Pride next June. Spectacular!
• Curiouser and curiouser. A grown man interrupted a track meet to complain that a 9-year-old girl competing must be trans and demanded to see evidence otherwise. Everyone loses in this fight, but I can't help but wonder how much of it is also about reinforcing girls as "the weaker sex" by an implicit threat: "Don't be too strong or fast, or else someone is going to make you prove you're a girl." (In an update, man denies he yelled, but maintains he had every right to demand proof. A mess, basically.)
•In every issue of Kazoo, we include some sort of activism (because we're not your parents' kids mag). I've been a magazine writer for over 20 years, so I've gotten pretty good at boiling almost anything down, but these are the hardest pages I write. It's extremely challenging to tell more sophisticated stories about our complicated world (without being a downer) for our very young readers. On the "Rally" page in our latest, the Fun issue, I wanted to explain how humor can be a powerful antidote to hate, and in writing it, I got a little in the weeds researching the amazing history of anti-racist Clowns. This video mocking a white nationalist “Patriot Front” group with ABBA's Dancing Queens is sort of a modern-day TikTok equivalent. Sometimes you have to laugh.
•I laughed way too hard at this! Even more so because I startle easily. "WHAT? WHAT? WHAT IS IT?"
• “Rural people are so angry they want to blow up the system.” sayeth Barbara Kingsolver in this interview about her excellent book, Demon Copperhead, which I just started and, since I'm the world's sleepiest reader, hope to finish this summer while we're staying in a lake cottage down the road from some of the very types of people she writes about, here. Not too many two-mom families from Brooklyn in rural Pennsylvania, but we all seem to get along. As Kingsolver says, "I feel like I’m an ambassador between these worlds, trying to explain that if you want to have a conversation you don’t start it with the words, ‘You idiot.’"
• What we're listening to:
Since we've been traveling a lot by car (and we can't bear Hamilton for the millionth time) we've discovered family-friendly podcasts! We love the excellent Ologies, (and the curse-word-free Smallogies, though TBH the adult one is not anything kids don’t hear at school), and the weird Everything is Alive!. Also, audio adaptions of graphic novels are good, more like old-timey radio shows than books. The kids love Stepping Stones by friend & frequent Kazoo contributor Lucy Knisley. On my own morning walks I'm excited to start Dykes to Watch out For by friend-of-Kazoo Alison Bechdel (who was there for our very 1st issue, and the Light issue) and also Rachel Maddow's newest, Deja News. So much I'm excited to learn about in the most pleasant way possible.
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.
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