19 January 2007

Choose Your Own, part 1

You read a Publishers Weekly report about the re-launch of the Choose Your Own Adventure series that filled B. Dalton shelves with small white paperbacks starting in 1979.

You recall sampling those paperbacks as a literary-minded teenager, noting their similarity to your friends' Dungeons & Dragons and other role-playing games. You recall discussing them as a rare use of a second-person narrative voice at last year's SCBWI New England conference. That voice let the books' protagonists be genderless, though the line art often put specific features on that young person. You note with a little surprise that "More girls [than boys] read the books by only one or two percentage points"; you'd have thought it was the other way around.

You note that Chooseco, the awkwardly spelled publisher putting these books back on the market, was started by R. A. Montgomery, author of the earliest books in the series, and his wife, Shannon Gilligan, working out of their home in Vermont. In addition to updating and reprinting some original titles, they're also expanding up and down in age range:

  • Choose Your Own Adventure: Dragonlarks series for ages 5 to 8 will feature full-color art.
  • Choose Your Own Adventure: The Golden Path for young adults will be an "illustrated, interactive seven-book fantasy epic starring eight continuing characters."
You're pleased to see that to market these interactive books Chooseco is taking advantage of newer interactive technology: a website with games (under "Secret Online Endings") and iPod downloads. But you wish the website didn't start out by telling kids these books are "different than" others rather than "different from."

You notice there's a free download of The Abominable Snowman, the series' very first book, in audio form. It will be available until 26 January. What do you do?

If you choose to download, go here.

If you choose to read something else, go here.

1 comment:

Jude said...

First, this post made me laugh out loud, which is an unusual response for me to anything I read, so congratulations.

I started reading Choose Your Own Adventures because they were brought up in library school as being controversial--should we spend library funds on books kids actually read even though they're of dubious quality?--one of those debates. I purchased quite a few of them, and we still occasionally read them because they're fun.