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Sniffup, Puffineers. Puffin Post, the much-loved children's books magazine which has been running for more than 40 years, has breathed its last.
Launched in 1967 by Kaye Webb, the legendary editor of Puffin Books, the magazine has boasted contributions from some of the most acclaimed names in children's literature, from Alan Garner and Roald Dahl to Joan Aiken, Leon Garfield and Spike Milligan. A mix of stories, jokes, interviews, competitions and quizzes, the magazine was also packed with reader contributions, and by the end of its first year Puffin Post had 16,000 members. At its height, this reached more than 200,000 readers, who would greet each other with the secret code: "Sniffup", which required the response: "Spotera" ("Puffins are tops", backwards).
Puffin Post was discontinued in 1982, but relaunched in 2009 through The Book People as a bi-monthly magazine including contributions from Charlie Higson, Cathy Cassidy and Michael Morpurgo, along with free books and – of course – collectable enamel membership badges. But a spokesperson for the magazine said today that "after careful thought and consideration, we will be returning the Puffin brand to its original home at PenguinBooks and, as part of this decision, Puffin Post will not be continuing in the new year". The November issue, he said, had been the last.
Amessage to subscriberson Puffin Post's website said: "Firstly, thank you for all your support and apologies for any disappointment the closure of Puffin Post may cause … At the end of December, The Book People will cease to have use of the Puffin Brand and so will no longer run Puffin Post. As a result, subscriptions to Puffin Post will no longer be available and unfortunately Penguin are unable to offer the service into 2013."
"I'm genuinely sad about this," said the award-winning children's author Philip Ardagh, an honorary life member of the Puffin Club and a "huge fan".
"The Puffin Club was very exciting for me as a child. It was in the days when children didn't get mail, so to get a magazine through the post was very exciting. And it was very interactive in the days before websites. You could send in jokes, finish a story, write something original, do a drawing, you could join in as much or as little as you wanted to, as well as find out about authors – how they worked, what their houses were like."
The Grubtown Tales author said he had been "very excited" when the magazine returned in 2009, and added: "I really do hope that Penguin revive it. It still has little stubby Puffin legs and Puffin wings."
But Caroline Horn, children's books expert and editor of the children's books resource Reading Zone, felt it was unlikely that Puffin Post would rise from the ashes. "There is a lot of emotional attachment out there to Puffin Post [but] with the internet now, they don't really need it. So much is done online and through social media, and Penguin and Puffin are very good at that.
"Puffin Post is a really expensive way of getting to consumers, and you don't need it if you've got a lot of online support."