Ada Campbell Rose

The first editor of Jack & Jill Magazine and Carl L. Biemiller's
mentor for children's writing (according to discussions long ago with Mr. Biemiller.)

Published articles from TIME, October 24, 1938 and November 8, 1948.

Copyright TIME Magazine


Monday, Oct. 24, 1938

Jack and Jill

The Curtis Publishing Co. of Philadelphia, venerable, opulent, conservative, next week gets cautiously down on its hands and knees to play with the moppets of America: It issues the first monthly number of Jack and Jill for a predominantly illiterate public, children aged ten and under. Only addition to the roster of Curtis magazines since 1911 when the Country Gentleman was purchased, and latest product of the Curtis Co.'s ambition to service the American Family from top to bottom, the November issue of Jack and Jill (40,000 copies) runs to 48 seven-by-ten-inch pages, illustrated with single-color drawings, price 25¢.

Jack and Jill, while a modern magazine for modern moppets, will not thrust aside the traditional Teddy-bear atmosphere and playroom gear of the child's World to reveal the razzle-dazzle streamlined machine age of rocketing Buck Rogers. Designed to tweak the curiosity of young readers or listeners will be stories giving a sound if rudimentary picture of the physical world and modern industry. Novel literary features include: vocational stories "appealing to the child's deep interest in the motorman, the fireman, the engineer, etc."; "Paper Tearing," a section "designed to satisfy a child's constant demand for nonsense"; and "How Big," a section illustrating the relative size of things: of for example, bears and small boys.

Editor of Jack and Jill is peppy, dark, bob-haired Ada Campbell Rose, mother of two—Donald, 11, Malcolm, 4. Colorado-born, graduating from Northwestern in 1923, she got a job with the Chicago firm of Scott, Foresman, textbook publishers, and spent three years learning what children like to read. Wife of Donald G. Rose, Department of Agriculture agent, who she says "is not the least bit literary." Editor Rose is the daughter-in-law of Philip Sheridan Rose, editor of Curtis' Country Gentleman.

Editor Rose, who diplomatically refers to her readers as "growing-ups," promises them good clean fun from "Sunrise to Sandman." Selected titles from the table of contents for the November issue are: "Gloomy the Camel," a story; "Boo Boo, the Woods Boy," a picture story and "Helping Around the House," subtitled, "Do You?"

Monday, Nov. 8, 1948

Up the Hill

The Saturday Evening Post, oldest U.S. magazine, last week helped its brother celebrate a birthday. The juvenile monthly Jack and Jill was ten years old. Rummaging through Jack and Jill’s letters column (it draws 18,000 letters a year), the Post collected a piece on “Kids Believe the Darnedest Things.” Some of the things they believe: that bird dogs fly, that “juvenile” means bad and “delinquent” means children, that Lincoln’s address was Gettysburg, that when it rains it rains all over, and that radios are inhabited by entertaining little people who ought to be applauded and occasionally fed—right through the speaker.

Jack and Jill* had earned its birthday party, and the Post’s plug. Curtis Publishing Co., which launched Jack and Jill as an experiment, then withdrew it from the newsstands during the War to save paper, had watched its mail circulation rise to nearly 500,000 (including 220 in Braille). Beginning with the anniversary issue, Jack and Jill will be back on the newsstands (at 25¢).

The ad-less magazine is still run by its first editor. When Curtis asked friendly, tousled Mrs. Ada Campbell Rose, 47, to survey the children’s field, she was a textbook editor and housewife with two sons. Impressed by her report, Curtis asked her to edit a magazine for moppets.

Ada Rose shuns name authors (“children don’t care who wrote the story”), never mixes fantasy with fact (“some authors have brownies explain about stalagmites; they think it helps the children, but it confuses them”). She is careful not to tell her readers what to think (“we tell them how to make some gadget, but we never say it’s fun”). Above all, she never slants her pieces to please parents or teachers because “there are more kids [than teachers]; that’s our whole policy.”

*Many an oldster still complains that the U.S. has lacked a classic youth’s magazine since the death of St. Nicholas (peak circ. 100,000) in 1939 and Youth’s Companion (500,000) in 1929. But the best of the late, lamented St. Nick, edited by Historian Henry Steele Commager, will be published this month by Random House.
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