“They were appalled by what Dick and Jane had done to American reading,” said John Grandits, Cricket’s first designer, in a telephone interview.
The Caruses tried a different approach with cricket a decade later, starting with their advisory board which they stacked with literary heavyweights, including child writer Lloyd Alexander; Virginia Haviland, founder of the Children’s Books division of the Library of Congress; and the writer Isaac Bashevis Singer. (A story by Mr. Singer about a cricket that lived behind a stove inspired the magazine’s name.) The board advised and helped the Caruses, among the librarians and well-educated parents they would reach out to as subscribers grasp.
The couple also took advantage of the East Coast literary world to build their staff. Marcia Leonard, an editorial assistant and her first job, recently completed her publishing course at Radcliffe College. They hired Clifton Fadiman, a former book editor at The New Yorker, to be the managing editor of Cricket. Mr. Fadiman’s regular radio and television appearances made him one of the few mid-century New York intellectuals to become a household name, and he used his extensive network of friends to store the magazine’s pages: he got his Friend Charles M. Schulz, the creator of “Peanuts”, to contribute to the first edition.
In addition to Mr Schulz, the first editions of Cricket included new work by Mr Singer and Nonny Hogrogian, a two-time Caldecott Medal winner for children’s literature, as well as reprints of works by TS Eliot and Astrid Lindgren that they created Pippi Longstocking.
Authors of both children’s and adult literature tried to get onto the pages of cricket; Ms. Carus once turned down a submission by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer William Saroyan. (He took it gracefully and sent another story which she accepted.)
Ms. Carus published several anthologies of cricket stories and brought out three more titles in the early 1990s aimed at different age groups. She ran the magazine from an office filled with books above a downtown bar and later from a converted watch factory. Around 2000, headquarters and around 100 employees moved to Chicago, although Ms. Carus, still the editor, decided to stay in LaSalle, with some of her top editors wandering back and forth every few days. The Caruses sold cricket and its related titles in 2011; They are still being published.
Despite its fan base, cricket never made a big profit, a fact Ms. Carus didn’t seem to mind.
“This is an idealistic endeavor,” she told The Baltimore Sun. “We’re not trying to make money. If that were us, we would be in comics and sex manuals. “