The Blurb On The Back:
Danger awaits you in the mountain wilderness!
You and your pilot Jake have crashed in the Canadian Rockies. Jake is hurt, so it’s up to you to hike through the snow for help. You walk for hours until you come to a cabin. Inside you see a terrifying scene – a boy is tied to a chair, guarded by a sleeping man with a shotgun and a hunting knife!
What should you do? If you decide to play it safe and look for help, turn to page 83. If you try to sneak in and grab the gun and knife, turn to page 89. Be careful. Your next move could make you rich – or trap you forever in the dangerous mountains!
What happens next in the story? It all depends on the choices you make. How does the story end? Only you can find out! And the best part is that you can keep reading and rereading until you’ve had not one but many incredibly daring adventures!
The Review (Cut For Spoilers):
You are flying above the Canadian Rockies with your pilot, Jake McKay when something goes wrong with the engines. Jake manages to land the plane but it’s damaged in the process and Jake hurts his ankle, leaving him unable to move. Worse, the plane is off-course and the radio no longer works. Fortunately there’s a ranger station about 9 miles away and you’ve got a backpack with a day’s worth of food, a light sleeping bag, matches, a poncho and a first-aid kit. It’s up to you to get to the ranger’s station and radio for help to get Jake out before the weather closes in and you both perish in the mountains …
Edward Packard’s adventure game book (illustrated by Leslie Morrill and part of a series) for children aged 9+ is a fast-paced, genuinely exciting read with some useful survival tips. The reader chooses between different options to direct where the story goes – some to a sticky end, some to fame and riches – which holds the attention and keeps things interesting. The series was a big part of my childhood and still hold up all these years later.
Packard’s CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE SERIES of books were a big part of my childhood back in the 1980s. Because they’re written in the second person, they’re non-gendered and so one of the few sets of books that allowed girls to have adventures as much as boys. I also loved the fact that I was in control of the story as it gives you a choice of decisions, each of which takes you in a different direction. Some of the stories were crime mysteries, some fantasies, some science fiction and others, like this one, survival adventures but they were all filled with unexpected twists and turns and, in some cases, some very unpleasant deaths.
This particular book has 25 different endings ranging from terrible death to wealth and fame, including stumbling over a kidnap plot that gives you the choice of staying to help the victim or continuing on your way. It’s surprising how many basic survival tips are seeded into the story (e.g. not climbing up the middle of a gulley, lighting a fire and seeking shelter when it gets cold). Part of the fun is cheating and flicking ahead to see where each option takes you, but the decision branches are sufficiently complicated that this can be quite tricky to keep track of.
My own collection of CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE books disappeared to charity shops after I left home for university and I picked this one up from a neighbour who was clearing out their house. I’ve since discovered that several of the CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE SERIES have been reprinted over the last few years and given the competition for children’s attention these days, I think they offer a genuinely interesting alternative to try and pry them away from computer screens and into reading. The language is not too complicated, the storylines fun and you have an element of control that keeps them interacting with it in a more active way. All in all, I think they still stack up a children’s book series all these years later and would love to see them republished and promoted more widely.