February in DIG: The Powerful Ganges River

Revealed for you in this issue are the facts, myths, and discoveries that have made the powerful Ganges River the center of the universe for countless people through the millennia.


February in DIG: The Powerful Ganges RiverEven though I have done several issues on Indian history through the years, the Ganges River was a topic that excited and scared me! I know so little about India, but I do believe that to understand people and history, in general, you really need to have a sense of what has gone before, not just in the parts of the world that are familiar to you. For example, just think about the St. Lawrence River, the Mississippi, the Colorado, the Rio Grande—all four (plus many, many more) are so intertwined with the history of our country, that if you know nothing about them, you really are missing quite a huge segment of United States History.  So, while I had focused issues on various rulers and time periods in Indian history, I had never looked closely at the Ganges River.


February 2016 came and it was time to start—as I have mentioned in other theme reviews, I start working on an issue a year ahead. But where to start, that was the question. A few searches brought me the same material, but nothing that excited me and would engage DIG’s readers. I had to think of an angle—a way of seeing the river as something that was one with the subcontinent’s history, something that could be developed as a theme, something that was there just waiting to be found.  So, how had the Ganges “run” through India’s history? That was it—the “run” caught my attention. I would have the theme be “A Journey Along India’s Ganges River.” I liked it! And, it was making me ask questions? Where did it start, where did it flow, whose lands did it reach, what tales could it tell me?


Now my research clicks were more specific—topics I had never heard of kept coming up. Soon, it was overload, and I had to sit back again and think about what I wanted this issue to “say,” to “offer” readers. It could not be just a litany of facts.  Ok—‘Let’s Start at Gomukh”—that would be the first and opening article.  Here’s where the trickle began—way up in the Himalayas—I had not known that. But how had it started—that was interesting. According to Hindu beliefs, it was the goddess Ganga who brought the waters to earth, and there was a great carving to illustrate just that.  Then I moved on to the major article titled “Bathed by the Ganges.” And what a trip I had as I journeyed from city to city. I was really getting to know this river—and its people. I loved it!


I was also beginning to understand the problems facing those who lived along the river and those who held its waters sacred. Pollution is taking its toll. Another topic—what is being done? Actually, I found out that quite a bit is going on.


Well, I had the main issue, but what about Let’s Go Digging? Here, I drew a blank, well, almost a blank. There was so little that I could find. I had already asked Jonathan Mark Kenoyer to be the consulting editor of the issue. He had worked with me on many issues related to India. A professor at the University at Wisconsin, he has been excavating in India and Pakistan since 1986 and is one of the world’s experts on the Harappa civilization. I wrote to him, asking him to suggest possible digging sites, digging finds, digging news around the Ganges River.  Mark suggested Sanauli, Kaaushambi, and Lakuradeva. Great, but I had never heard of any of them! Mark said he would write one and would ask colleagues in India—wonderful! And they did, including the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India! And wait until you see the photos they sent!  This is one of the reasons I just love DIG! I learn so much as I do each issue, I meet so many people, and I can share all this with every reader of DIG! Who could ask for more!


So, see you in Gomukh! Can’t wait to take you along on the journey down one of the world’s greatest rivers!


Rosalie Baker is the editor of Dig Into History magazine.

Meet Eleanor of Aquitaine

Every year, as I draft my theme list, I feel that overwhelming feeling of so much to learn and so much to experience—and that what I know is so very little. I think that is probably one of the greatest thrills of being the editor of DIG, the broadening everyday of “my horizons.”


Who Was Eleanor of Aquitaine? 


This year in my research, one woman really caught my attention—Eleanor of Aquitaine, the queen consort of both Louis VII of France and Henry II of England, and mother of King Richard I (the Lion-Heart) and John of England. I knew who she was, but little else. As I read more, I marveled at the character strength this woman must have possessed. She was the most powerful woman in 12th century Europe. She stood her ground in a world dominated by men and by war. She seemed to fear nothing. She also was constantly prepared to fight for what she believed was right and should be done. Eleanor —her life, her influence, her accomplishments, and her role in world politics at the time—was one of the first themes to be checked as a “yes” for 2016.


Then came the worry part: Would there be enough material on Eleanor to do an entire issue?


Well, I needn’t have worried. Soon, I had too many topics and needed to pare them down. But there was one I had to add—a family tree. Eleanor’s was just too involved to leave to words. We needed visuals—for our readers and, for that matter, for me! I also decided I wanted to include more than just biographical information. I wanted the time period—about 1,000 years ago—to come alive. I went searching again—and I found it: Guedelon. It’s amazing! It’s there, in France, that they are building a medieval castle, one that would look very familiar to Eleanor, using medieval tools and techniques.



Archeologists are using the same materials and technology used in Eleanor’s time to build Guedelon.

How to include archaeology in the issue—that was a difficult question!


There was nothing I could find that was specific to Eleanor. For a while, I was flummoxed! I took the dog for a walk and just kept thinking and thinking. I reviewed Eleanor’s life in my mind, and the image of her traveling here and there kept popping into my mind. That was it—Eleanor had had to use boats on many of her trips. Why not look at what we know about ships at the time. I emailed Andrew Roberts at Wessex Archaeology in England. I had worked with him before, and he had said he would enjoy collaborating again. We then Skyped and talked about articles on what maritime archaeologists do, what shipwrecks from that time period can tell us, and just what cogs, a very common vessel at the time, were. Andrew then enlisted the aid of his wife, who also works in the field, and soon we had the topics for a fantastic section on ships of the time, their recovery today, and what we can learn from them.


We had the issue —and I really felt Eleanor would approve and be proud of her role in it!


Rosalie Baker is the editor of Dig Into History. Come back every month to learn about the thought process that went into the creation of each month’s issue.

Join Us on a Trip to Istanbul Through Time

A few years ago, I decided it would be a great learning experience—for me and for readers— to focus an issue on a specific city and trace its history from ancient times to the present.  DIG has now being doing just that, and it’s been great fun. Among the cities featured thus far are Rome, London, and Paris. So, which city should be the next choice? There were so many possibilities. Why not Istanbul, I thought? It certainly would have much to share. Was I ever right!


But in order to make this issue to come to life, I needed people directly in the field. Luckily, I knew just the person I would ask—Mark Rose, a classical archaeologist whose list of friends and acquaintances in the Middle East is endless. Right away he put me in touch with a husband and wife team—Sengul and Haldun Aydingun. Both are archaeologists, and it was Sengul who discovered Bathonea, a long-lost Roman town right on the coastline of present-day Istanbul. The subsequent finds have been fascinating and date to the period when Rome controlled much of the Middle East.


The finds of skeletal remains are enough to take your breath away—just the thought that these people really are just like us today–they, too, worked, learned, and dreamed about tomorrow. But, I wanted to go even further back—to Neolithic times and what such finds could tell us! Still, I did not want to stay in the very ancient past for the entire issue. I wanted to move forward to the hustle and bustle of the Roman and Byzantine empires, to “meet” Constantine and find out why he chose the site of present-day Istanbul as his “new Rome” and what his choice meant to the Roman Empire.  Then there was the emperor Justinian and his wife, Theodora! What a strong and determined personality she was—especially when riots threatened to topple her husband.


The city’s story was beginning to unfold before my eyes—I could visualize the people settling, building, accommodating, failing, trying again—oh the stories were so many.  How best to tell the city’s tale—that was the difficulty! Personalities definitely played a role in shaping its history, but another approach could be the architecture, the structures each ruler built, renovated, enlarged. These definitely could tell the story of the city—in an exciting way and awe-inspiring way. That was the angle – the angle for which I had been searching. And, it would allow me to focus an article on Hagia Sophia one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.


Istanbul - Cricket Media

Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia museum, considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, was used as a church for 916 years, but following the conquest of Istanbul by Fatih Sultan Mehmed, Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque. It was used as a mosque for nearly 500 years before becoming a museum in 1935.


Now I was ready. While choosing what to include is always difficult, it is also important to cover a theme in a way that allows readers become effortlessly immersed in the topic and come away feeling that the topic is now a “friend.” Istanbul been a great issue to work on, and I’m so excited to have you join us in February 2016, when DIG Into History will focus on “Istanbul Through Time”!


Rosalie Baker co-founded the magazine Calliope in 1980, took on Dig in 2000, and then merged the two magazines into Dig Into History in 2014. Read more about Rosalie and her career. For more amazing archeology be sure to subscribe to Dig Into History.

Meet Dig Into History Editor Rosalie Baker

Have you ever wondered about the people behind your favorite Cricket Media magazines? These talented editors and designers work hard to make sure each page of their publication delivers “the best of the best” for their audience each month. We decided to ask some of these busy folks a few questions to try to get a sense of how they shape their issues. Today we talked to Rosalie Baker, the editor of Dig Into History.


Q-How Long Have You Been With Cricket Media?

  • My husband and I founded Calliope in 1980, took on Dig in 2000, and then merged the two magazines into Dig Into History in 2014.

Q- Who is your favorite Cricket family character?

  • Difficult to choose one – I would say: Dr. Dig and Calliope

Q- If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you want to have with you and why?

  • Some dessert – I can’t imagine dinner without dessert; paper and pencil to write with – I have always loved to write stories about ancient myths and legends; a piano – I love to play every day, at least for 15 minutes or so.

Q- Describe your desk / office space.

  • Actually – it’s quite small –a table and window sill that holds a laptop, a computer screen, a printer, a scanner. I have on shelves right next to my desk all the issues of Calliope and Dig and Dig Into History, external hard drives, and all the key office equipment (pencil sharpener, erasers, pencils, paper, and the like). I also have my Samsung 4.  And I have a little placard (have had it since college) that was my father’s with the saying: “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.”


Dig Into History Editor Rosalie Baker

Dig Into History editor Rosalie Baker’s very first “selfie”.


Q- Chocolate or vanilla? Dogs or cats? Spring or fall?

  • Love coffee ice cream but not coffee; have a terrific 11 1/2 year-old mini schnauzer named Brady (our son named her Brady for the football player, saying she would not know she had a boy’s name).

Q- How do you choose the theme for each issue?

  • I try to work chronologically, starting with a theme that is prehistoric and then working through the centuries to the 1800s or 1900s. My idea is to include:
    •  -One city and take it through time.
    •  -A formidable and fascinating female personality.
    •  -A male personality whose actions/beliefs affected/changed the world.
    •  -A theme that crosses all borders (for example – the July/August 2016 issue will focus on the “power of fire”).

I also try to make sure I go around the world—that is, a theme concentrated in Europe, the Middle East, Asia.  (I do not cover U.S. history as Cobblestone does that.)


Q- What advice do you have for young writers/artists?

  • Be true to yourself and be willing to take time to think, plan, write and rewrite – but also try to spontaneous, to get the joy and sorrow of how you are feeling/thinking to come through in your phrases and paragraphs. Never give up if you really want to write and enjoy it.

Q- Did you grow up with any of the Cricket family magazines? If so, what’s your favorite Cricket memory?  

  • Unfortunately Cricket did not exist when I was growing up. But that is one reason my husband and I started Calliope – we wanted to publish something on history that was unavailable when we were young, something that we would have loved to read when we were young. We also wanted to publish something that was accurate, that made readers think about themselves and life and history.

Thanks, Rosalie, for taking the time to speak with us today. To see the results of Rosalie’s hard work each month, be sure to subscribe to Dig Into History.


Look for more interviews with the people who make Cricket Media magazines happen in the coming months.

Best of 2015: Articles

While our literary magazines (Babybug, Ladybug, Spider, Cricket, and Cicada) feature “the best of the best” for children in stories and poems, our discovery magazines provide the best for children who want to explore the world through science, history, art, archeology, or geography. Below you’ll find our editors’ picks for the best articles of 2015 from Click, Ask, Muse, Cobblestone, Dig, and Faces.

We’re proud of the diverse voices, points of view, and topics covered in our magazines each month. We hope this round-up will give you just a taste of why our magazines have won more awards than any other publications for children. For your child’s monthly dose of brainy fun, be sure to subscribe to your favorite magazine(s).


Editor: Amy Tao
Favorite Article: “What Color Is It?” (September 2015)
A note from Amy: The words in this article are simple and few, but the idea they convey is complex and intriguing. Like many of the best Click stories, it inspires readers to look at the world more closely and think outside the box.
What Color Is It


Ask Cover

Editor: Liz Huyck
Favorite Article: “Helping Hands” (Nov/Dec 2015)
A note from Liz: I like this article because it captures the best of what technology can be; enabling people to create freely, share ideas, and help each other. I hope it helps inspire a new generation of Makers!
Helping Hands

Muse Cover

Editor: Johanna Arnone
Favorite Article: “What’s Mine Is Yours” (October 2015)
A note from Johanna: The author tells four very different but related stories–from a high-tech box that keeps a heart beating outside to a doctor who expects that a full human head transplant will occur in the near future. But the most memorable subsection, for me, is the story of a woman who required a face transplant. Her grace, and the donor family’s, are impossible to forget.
Whats Mine Is Yours


Cobblestone Cover

Editor: Meg Chorlian
Favorite Article: “Marching to Montgomery and Beyond (February 2015)
A note from Meg: The issue was about pivotal events of the civil rights movement that led to civil rights legislation. A first-time writer sent in a query to interview someone who had grown up in Selma, Alabama, and who had participated in the march from Selma to Montgomery. The author delivered a great interview with a woman named Shirley Jefferson. Jefferson was 12 years old in 1965, when the march took place, so she was the same age as COBBLESTONE readers. She talks about going to segregated schools, being scared, and the KKK, and how the whole experience made an impression on her. It is very powerful, and I think it gives readers a personal, real look at an event that might otherwise seem to them like its ancient history: It wasn’t that long ago that people were marching in the streets for civil rights, and here was a person their age who participated!
Marching to Montgomery and Beyond

Dig Cover

Editor: Rosalie Baker
Favorite Article: “Crypt Secrets” (March 2015)
A note from Rosalie: DIG has written much about tomb findings and skeleton analysis, but this article was different. It focused on Medici family tombs on the order, as the author writes, of CSI Florence. Most fascinating was how comparing historical records with analysis of recovered remains offered proof that a Medici father had not murdered his sons. The culprit was a mosquito!
Crypt Secrets

Faces Cover

Editor: Elizabeth Carpentiere
Favorite Article: “At a Glance” (April 2015)
A note from Elizabeth: Among the two most important things my dad passed on to me were his love of reading and his passion for baseball. I love every page of the April 2015 issue, “Baseball: The World’s Pastime,” but my favorite piece is the At a Glance. It’s fun, informative, and a great introduction to the issue.

At A Glance