Tuesday, March 27, 2012
When I was young, I loved reading a book series called Choose Your Own Adventure. It's quite a unique kind of book, where the reader is actually the protagonist of the book, and is asked to make choices to determine how the plot develops and what the final outcome of the book will be. Kids are constantly flipping from page to page ("If you choose to go down in the submarine to hunt the sea monster with Captain Kirk, go to page 24. If you choose to stay up on the main ship to battle the Nazi fighter planes with First Mate Jones, go to page 65."), so you can read the book many times and experience a different story. I guess you could say it was the pioneer to interactive entertainment!
It's good to see this kind of multiple-choice, multiple-ending book alive and well today, not just with the re-release of the CYOA series, but in other series like American Girl's Innerstar University books. This series is designed to appeal to girls -- it features My American Girl - type characters and is set in Innerstar University (AG's online game and activity site). The plotlines revolve around typical issues faced by 8 to 13-year old girls, and rewards girl-power values like confidence, independence and courage.
We received a copy of the latest title in the series -- The New Girl -- and I had a lot of fun reading through it. That is, after I managed to tear it away from The Pea! She had never read this kind of book before, and really enjoyed being able to make choices to determine how the story ends. It's a quick and easy read, and The Pea usually tears through a book in no time flat -- but she's not going to get bored any time soon. With over 20 different endings, she's going to get a lot of mileage out of this one book!
I must admit, the of idea of studying in a boarding school with its own stables and shopping mall and candy store may be completely absurd to a grownup -- but it's the perfect fantasy setting for a tween girl. And while the plot dilemmas may seem shallow (You are feeling left out because everyone is paying attention to the new girl), they are definitely issues and feelings that young girls face every day. And while the choices may seem silly, (Should you join the Fashion Outfit competition, even though you know nothing about putting a outfit together, or the Canoeing competition? Should you let Zoe know she's making you feel bad, or keep quiet for now? Should you try the Brie and crackers or politely decline?), I like the way the book "rewards" courage and open-mindedness and strength of character -- for example, making choices to try new things or being brave enough to speak up for your friends will result in happier story endings. It may not be classic literature, but for young girls, it's a good read.
About The New Girl:
Each reader can imagine herself as the main character of this interactive story set in the world of Innerstar University™! She thinks Zoé, the new girl, is brave for coming all the way from her home in France. She wants to get to know Zoé, but she also feels a bit jealous about all the attention the new arrival is getting. When a couple of girls start to tease Zoé, she feels torn—can she find the courage to speak up for what she knows is right? With more than 20 different endings, girls will enjoy this book again and again to see how different decisions change the story. Plus, each book comes with a secret access code to unlock additional endings online! 120 pages. Paperback. Author: Laurie Calkhoven. Ages 8+
Also new this spring is another Innerstar University title -- Behind the Scenes -- and many more, including a new Doll Travel craft book, a new Smart Girl's Guide, a new Treasure Totes line, and 3 new Historical Fiction titles. Check out the American Girl online bookstore to see all the new titles!
Don't forget to enter my giveaway for the latest American Girl mystery book, The Cameo Necklace!
Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book. Information is provided by American Girl and is indicated in italics. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.