On Jan. 26, 2012, it was confirmed that Mad Science, owner of Victoria-based Peter Piper Publishing, would be shutting down both KNOW and YES Mag. The news came as a shock to the six employees, support staff, and freelance contributors most of whom were told to cease working immediately.
Issue 37: Exploring Caves, published in January, marked KNOW‘s 6th birthday. KNOW was awarded 2011 Winner, Best Series & 2008 Winner, as well as Best Column by the Association of Educational Publishers. It was also recommended in 2011 by the Parents’ Choice Awards.
Adrienne Mason, the “mother of KNOW” — along with publisher David Garrison and editor-in-chief Shannon Hunt — helped launch the magazine and lead it to success as its managing editor for six years. I took over as managing editor in September 2011. It was my dream job, so the closure’s been very upsetting.
My heart goes out to the children who subscribed and won’t receive any more issues in the mail. Sadly for me, professionally, only one issue was printed with my name in the masthead as managing editor, though I contributed many articles over the life of the magazine. The March/April issue was one week away from being sent to the printer. I was proud of that issue, which featured a popular character from a children’s picture book and had some wonderful articles. Sam Logan did a superb job on this issue’s design. The May/June issue had been fully planned and assigned. Most of the articles had been submitted and illustrators were just about to start drawing.
YES Mag received accolades from the Association of Educational Publishers in 2009 as Periodical of the Year. Jude Isabella took over as managing editor about ten years ago. She did a wonderful job in developing ideas with high appeal for children ages 10 to 15. The last few issues were managed by the talented Matt J. Simmons (who also co-managed KNOW issues 35 and 36), while Jude was on leave to pursue writing projects. My own children subscribed to YES Mag, having outgrown KNOW. They loved the content, which was intelligent, thought-provoking, and stimulating.
David Garrison and Shannon Hunt started YES Mag in their basement about 16 years ago. Wanting to fill a gap in the market and turn kids onto science with high-quality, accurately researched science articles, these creative and science-savvy entrepreneurs worked tirelessly to build a base of subscribers across Canada, into the U.S., and beyond. Tapping into Canada’s rich and talented community of science writers for children and children’s illustrators, the couple forged long-lasting relationships with a number of regular contributors. In turn, the creative community enjoyed regular paying gigs for assignments that were stimulating, fun, and challenging. In his role as publisher, David Garrison was fair-minded, pleasant-mannered, and generous (certainly as generous as shoestring budgets would allow). Shannon Hunt’s keen eye and top-notch copy editing skills ensured that issues went error-free to the printer. Bill Slavin, Mike Cope, and Glen Mullaly illustrated for the magazines on a bi-monthly basis for many years.
The loss of these two high-quality, highly respected children’s magazines will be felt for a long time. Not only have these magazines served to promote the work of children’s nonfiction/science writers, but they have helped writers hone their skills and write entertaining, engaging, factually accurate science articles for specific age ranges of children — not an easy feat.
As a freelancer, writing assignments for KNOW used to fill a gap between other contracts. Now that KNOW and YES Mag are gone, this stop-gap is gone, and with it a little more of the confidence remaining in Canada’s artistic community.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve received an overwhelming number of emails from writers and illustrators, including former, longtime KNOW Editor Adrienne Mason; Contributing Editors Ken Hewitt-White; Philip Currie; Eva Koppelhus; freelance writers Megan Kopp, Helaine Becker, Gillian Richardson, Cora Lee, Stephen Aitken, and Claire Eamer; illustrators Bill Slavin, Patricia Storms, Mike Cope, Glen Mullaly, and Howie Woo — and many more. I feel honoured to have been able to be a part of the team at KNOW. I enjoyed every day on the job.
Sometime soon, I’ll try to post some of the articles I’ve written for KNOW on the main pages of my website.