69. Zizzle – a literary magazine for young minds (Issue #1)

Zizzle 1_mag and bookmarksThis gorgeous hardback magazine is infused with generosity – not only do the creators of Zizzle compensate authors for their time and effort (unlike too many other publications) but their readers are treated to lush, varicoloured pages boasting dream-like images amongst 10 stories for youngsters, and those tasked with reading to or with them.

If some of the language in the more advanced stories could potentially flummox work-ragged adults, then this is representative of a calculated risk taken by Hong Kong publisher Yuetting Cindy Lam and Lesley Dahl, the magazine’s North American editor. In their introduction they emphasise the importance of a good story over any attempt to tailor it to a precise age group. This seems both brave and sensible. Many of us advanced quickly through middle-grade fiction and beyond, ignoring any advice on age range offered on covers. Others will have dwelt longer on books designed for readers younger than their years. No big deal.

And yet, to an editor of school textbooks, used to a more formalised approach to language introduction, I did have some concerns when bumping into words and expressions like ‘diminuendo’ and ‘vein-riddled’ in George Salis’ atmospheric ‘The Lightning Conductor’ (which memorably describes goosebumps as ‘skin braille’). Never fear – help is at hard. Zizzle may blur the line between child and adult reading, but it’s not looking to lose anyone along the way. A bookmark can be peeled from the front cover to mark the particular progress of each reading team; the stories are short, and all are helpfully categorised into three difficulty levels – ‘Easy’, ‘Less Easy’ and ‘Not Easy’.

In my role as uncle, I would happily dip into the magazine with my niece and nephews, and suspect each would get something different from it. While I might savour the delicious satire in Ryan Thorpe’s ‘The Border Crossing’, a tale in which a mouse ‘trying to look casual’ heads a line of animals attempting to navigate a border point, my older nephew may prefer to wallow in its more comedic elements. I don’t think the message would be lost either way.

Myth, magic and mystery – as you might expect – bag conspicuous roles in the Zizzle cavalcade. ‘One Wish’ by Jennifer Moore offers a new take on the perils of unchecked desire, while ‘How the Moon Scared the Giant’ by Lenore Weiss casts its light on lonely despotism. Other stories, such as ‘The Road to Valhalla’ by Blake Johnson and ‘Ruby Vidalia’ by Karen Rigby tell of lifelong love affairs with books.

Personally, I like the way these more recognisable narratives are complemented by several abstract visions contemplating loss, or offering similarly melancholy glimpses into adult life – and how you might temporarily escape it. ‘Scarves’ by Cheryl Pappas is especially striking, as a young girl leaves a smiling picnic to create a shrine of discarded animal bones.
Zizzle 2_Andy Wai Kit illustrationAndy Wai Kit, a Malaysian-born animator in the games industry, provides the sweeping visuals that are a highlight of Zizzle’s debut – certainly his work contains more whimsy and humanity than I recall in the computer games I played as a kid, which, despite the momentary relapse offered by Zizzle, I have to concede was a while ago now.

Promishore have produced an exceptionally high-quality product with this first edition of Zizzle; so much so that the international price of US$21 does not seem overly steep. This isn’t a magazine destined to end up in the recycling; it’s a publication to treasure or share, depending on how generous you’re feeling.

7 thoughts on “69. Zizzle – a literary magazine for young minds (Issue #1)

  1. Pingback: The Lightning Conductor – George Salis

    • Hi, Word Diver! I hope you are doing well.

      Since you enjoyed my story in Zizzle, I thought I’d let you know that my debut novel is being published by River Boat Books in October and I have on hand a couple ebook formats, mobi and epub, to be exact, for the purposes of early review. I’d be delighted to send you a copy via email in exchange for an honest review.

      If you don’t have the time or interest, I’ll understand completely, so no worries.

      To give you a bit more info, the novel is under 300 pages and here is some marketing lingo:

      ‘Upside-down lightning, a group of uncouth skydivers, resurrections, a mother’s body overtaken by a garden, aquatic telepathy, a peeling snake-priest, and more.

      Sea Above, Sun Below is influenced by Western myths, some Greek, some with Biblical overtones, resulting in a fusion of fantastic dreams, bizarre yet beautiful nightmares, and multiple narrative threads that form a tapestry which depicts the fragility of characters teetering on the brink of madness.’



      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi George! Apologies for the delay in replying – I’ve been busy editing my novel, which I’m hoping will be published soon. Congratulations on the upcoming release of Sea Above, Sun Below!! Sounds intriguing…and then some. My cup of tea I suspect! Would be happy to read the book but am a little behind in blogging duties, and have to read and review a HK friend’s latest novel first and foremost. So it could be another couple of months before I can read and review SASB, being realistic. Is that okay? If so please do send an e-book copy through to me – if that’s too tardy, I’m sure you’ll find other ways of spreading the word. All the best, WD

        Liked by 1 person

    • No worries, WD. Congrats on finishing the book! I wish you the best of luck finding a home for it. It took me about 4 or so years to find a publisher for my first novel.
      And a couple of months is no problem. There isn’t a huge rush. I would love to hear your thoughts on it. I can’t find an email on your page. What’s the best way to send the ebook, my friend?


      • Hi George – just sent you a message through your site. Let me know if that doesn’t arrive your side. Looking forward to seeing your book, and sharing mine when it breaks free! All the best, WD


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