This book is different from other books.
You and YOU ALONE are in charge of what happens in this story…”
I must admit, when I saw the book pictured here land on my shelf I emitted a gasp suffused with nostalgia and excitement and more than a little trepidation. It was as if I had dropped back through time (appropriately enough, given the title) to the days when I graced the shelf of a much younger fleshling.
Ah, the phenomenon that was Choose Your Own Adventure! Designed as an interactive reading experience, some forty titles made their way out into the homes and hearts of young readers, to engage and frustrate and challenge. Each book contained multpile endings to the story which could be accessed after the reader had made a choice about the direction of the plot.
Surely I am not alone in remembering the feelings of anticipation and angst that accompanied every choice; the complicated internal dialogue that reflected the fraught-ness of each decision…should I stay and search the cave (turning to page 56) or go back and find my dog first (turning to page 89)? Should loyalty to one’s canine outweigh the potential for discovery? Which action would serve me better in saving myself from future peril? And could I sneakily leave my finger to mark the page in case I made the wrong choice?
How well I recall the feeling of righteous indignation that welled up when, having made a well-considered and strategic decision, I was met with those awful words, written in bold capitals after half a page or less of text – THE END. How could my plucky gamble have backfired so poorly? And what measure of ethics surrounded this “ending” of my adventure? Was it morally the correct thing to begin the story again from the beginning, or would the god of the reading universe overlook, say, a change of heart that involved simply turning back a few pages and choosing the initially discarded option? After all, a gargoyle is entitled to change his (or her) mind. It could simply have been that in the time between making the choice, and turning the pages (with possibly a glimpse at those terrible, story-ending words as the pages turned) that a gargoyle reconsidered the criteria on which to base the most prudent choice. Yes, obvioulsy I meant to choose the other option. Any fool could see that. I just…misread…which page I was supposed to turn to.
Surely this collection of books is ready for a second coming. After all, younglings of this generation are breast-fed on interactive everything – Ipods, smartphones, Wii thingies….why not books? The series has even been extended in recent years to include beginning readers, with new titles published that cater specifically to children in pre-school and prep. Imagine, if you will: new parents, who grew up on the heady anticipation of being master (or mistress) of their own story domain, guiding their younglings in the best strategies to avoid disaster….it could be a brave new world of reading pleasure.
Admittedly, re-engaging with this particular Choose Your Own Adventure title as an older gargoyle lacked somewhat in the area of disbelief suspension, but nonetheless, the trip down memory lane it provided was worth the extra effort it took to really imagine one’s self into the story. But never fear! This is one gargoyle who believes firmly in re-gifting, and will no doubt wrap this one up and pass it on to gargoyles of a more recent vintage to discover…for the first time.
And if the nostalgia bug has burrowed it’s way into your neurotransmitters while reading this post, you may find some relief here: http://www.cyoa.com/
Until next time,