Exploring a newcomer to the children's-magazine industry

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With topics ranging from tracking thunderstorms to discovering how board games are created, EXPLORE! is a new monthly children's magazine based on the theme of how the world works.

The publication is just over a year old and already boasts 50,000 subscribers. That's no easy task, considering the industry is flooded with top-selling magazines like National Geographic World and Sports Illustrated for Kids, both with several million subscribers. Not to mention longtime favorites such as Child Life Magazine and Highlights, which have been around for more than half a century.

But EXPLORE! aims to carve out a new niche, taking 9- to 14-year-olds to the corners of the world, and bringing them behind-the-scenes stories on technology and science.

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The idea for the magazine grew from publisher Nat Belz's own upbringing, when his inquisitive father would stop at train yards or stock exchanges so his family could get a tour.

Today, Mr. Belz tries to provide that same sense of wonder in an age when such spontaneous visits are not as feasible.

The magazine emphasizes innovations and high technology, but doesn't neglect to trace the history of the subjects it covers.

For example, a recent issue focuses on the weather, with articles ranging from the first hot-air balloon ride in 1783 to a "Blur Building" in Switzerland, which will enable visitors this spring to walk through a man-made cloud that will hover above Lake Neuch√Ętel.

An issue on games takes readers back 5,000 years to the origin of the African game mancala, then on to a look inside the popular "Myst" computer game.

The publication is easy to read; even the longer stories (averaging five pages) weave in plenty of photos, graphics, and quizzes to hold the interest of young readers.

However, those who don't include daring adventure and science among their favorite subjects might find it hard to read the magazine cover to cover.

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