Choose Your Own Adventure

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The Cave of Time, the first Choose Your Own Adventure book.

Choose Your Own Adventure is a series of children's gamebooks first published by Bantam Books from 1979-1998 and currently being re-published by Chooseco. Each story is written from a second-person point of view, with the reader assuming the role of the protagonist and making choices that determine the main character's actions in response to the plot and its outcome. Choose Your Own Adventure was one of the most popular children's series during the 1980s and 1990s, selling over 250 million copies between 1979 and 1998,[1][2] and translated into at least 38 languages.[1]


[edit] Format

After an introduction to the story, the reader is asked to determine the protagonist's next course of action. For instance, the first decision offered in The Cave of Time is:

If you decide to start back home, turn to page 4.
If you decide to wait, turn to page 5.

After the reader makes a choice, the plot branches out and unfolds, leading to more decisions and eventually multiple possible endings.

The types of endings that the books featured include:

  • At least one, but often several, endings depicting a highly desired resolution, often involving uncovering a handsome monetary reward.
  • Endings that result in the death of the protagonist, companions of the main character or both, or other very negative endings, because of a fatal choice of the reader.
  • Other endings that may be either satisfactory (but not the most desired ending) or unsatisfactory (but not totally bad).
  • Occasionally a particular set of choices will throw the reader into a loop where they repeatedly reach the same page (often with a reference to the situation being familiar). At this point the reader's only option is to restart the adventure.
  • One book, Inside UFO 54-40, revolved around the search for a paradise that no one can actively reach; one of the pages in the book describes the player finding the paradise and living happily ever after, although none of the choices in the book led to that page. The ending could only be found by disregarding the rules and going through the book at random. Upon finding the ending, the reader is congratulated for realizing how to find paradise.

As the series progressed, the length of the plot threads increased, therefore, the number of endings decreased. The earliest books in the series often contained nearly 40 possible endings, while later entries contained as few as eight. Also, some of the books did play around with historical fiction from a second-person perspective, such as Spy for George Washington, or of issues of political importance at the time of publishing, such as Fight for Freedom, in which the reader assumes the role of an American student who visits apartheid South Africa, which was included with a special note from the publishers that it was their hope this book would enlighten the reader about the injustices of apartheid and offer hope for a new South Africa.

[edit] History

Packard's Sugarcane Island.
Choose Your Own Adventure The Abominable Snowman DVD

In 1969, in the course of making up bedtime stories for his children, Edward Packard wrote Sugarcane Island, the book that became the prototype for the classic Choose Your Own Adventure series. The William Morris Agency submitted the book on Packard's behalf to several major publishers, all of whom rejected it. In 1976 Packard approached Vermont Crossroads Press (VCP), known for its highly creative and innovative children's books, about publishing the title. R. A. Montgomery, co-founder of VCP, had designed several "you"-based role-playing games for the Peace Corps, McGraw-Hill and the Edison Electric Institute in the early 1970s and immediately saw the potential in the book's format. He proposed making it into a series, and calling it "The Adventures of You." Upon publication of Sugarcane Island, Publishers Weekly called it "an original idea, well carried out."

Subsequently, Edward Packard left Crossroads Press and published two interactive books with Lippincott in New York, in 1977 and 1978, but they were not a success. R.A. Montgomery continued the original "Adventures of You" at Crossroads, writing and publishing Journey Under the Sea in 1977. Upon selling his interest in the press in 1978, Montgomery brought the series to Bantam Books who was interested in starting a children's book division. Montgomery signed a contract with Bantam for six books in 1978, and invited Ed Packard and another VCP writer, Doug Terman, to collaborate by contributing books to the series. Terman wrote By Balloon to the Sahara, Book #3 in the original series, before turning full-time to a highly successful career writing adult geo-political thrillers.

R. A. Montgomery and Edward Packard went on to write 60 books apiece in the original Choose Your Own Adventure series and a spin-off series for younger readers. In addition, thirty other authors wrote titles for the two series. Choose Your Own Adventure was not the first "interactive" book or series. The interactive format was pioneered by the distinguished French writer Raymond Queneau in 1959 with the publication of his "Story As You Like It". The format was subsequently also used by Julio Cortázar in his 1964 work, Rayuela or Hopscotch. Finally, there was a successful interactive "you"-based children's series published by Corgi in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s called Trackers.

After its initial commercial success, Choose Your Own Adventure was widely copied in the 1980s with such series as Which Way (which reprinted Sugarcane Island)[3], Zork, and Time Machine. In 1988, a series called Narnia Solo Games was published by Berkley Books which, set in C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia universe, extended the Choose Your Own Adventure format by adding Role Playing Game features like dice rolls and a character point system to help shape the story. Choosing a random page in the book and reading the number (2-12) printed in the bottom left corner allowed readers to play without dice.

In 2005, Chooseco began republishing many of the original Choose Your Own Adventure titles. New illustrations and covers were used, as well as updated text.[1]

In July 2006, Lean Forward Media produced the first Choose Your Own Adventure DVD TV game, Choose Your Own Adventure: The Abominable Snowman, featuring the voices of Frankie Muniz and William H. Macy. Lean Forward Media plans to produce DVD versions of other titles in the series, including The Lost Jewels of Nafouti, The Case of the Silk King, and Mystery of the Maya.

In 2006, Chooseco released the Dragonlarks Series, 4 republished books from the Skylark series with new full color art.

In September 2007, Chooseco released the first new Choose Your Own Adventure book since 1998, Forecast From Stonehenge.[1]

In 2008, Editorial Terracota translated and relaunched the series in Spanish, in pocket-size paperbacks.

[edit] Impact

Choose Your Own Adventure was one of the most popular children's series during the 1980s and 1990s. Industry publications such as Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal have reported sales figures of over 250 million copies for the period between 1979 and 1998.[1][2] It has been translated into at least 38 languages.[1] The series has been noted in old and recent press for its unusual defiance of gendered writing for children (due to its second-person narration) and for its appeal with reluctant readers. The series has been used in classrooms from elementary school to college.

The wide recognition the format enjoys has enabled its reuse by other writers for stylistic effect; for example, in Kim Newman's novel Life's Lottery (1999) - described as a "Choose Your Own Adventure Book" on the title page - and also Marcus Ewert's Choose Your Own Epic Adventure (2006).

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b c d e f Lodge, Sally (2007). "Chooseco Embarks on Its Own Adventure". Publishers Weekly (18 Jan 2007). Retrieved on 2008-07-10. 
  2. ^ a b Fleishhacker, Joy (2008). "Fresh Approaches: Noteworthy New Editions and Reissues". School Library Journal (28 April 2008). Retrieved on 2008-07-10. 
  3. ^ Demian Katz, Which Way Books, Demian's Gamebook webpage. Retrieved June 22, 2007

[edit] External links

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