I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving, today I will be looking at something that never really came up until now when I saw a Fantastic Four comic where something unusual happened, even for the Marvel universe, or at least as far as I can tell.
While looking at this and reading this article (#3 Where Ben Grimm is drawn back to life by “God”) made me think about myself as a writer once when I would create original short stories in High School to even now working on three children’s stories for a publisher.
In the Fantastic Four comic book, Ben Grimm died and was sent to Heaven, however, Reed Richards took a machine and went there to find Ben and bring him back, semantics aside, they are sent before “God” and the team go through a doorway – only to appear on the other side inside a studio with “God” looking like Jack Kirby, why Jack Kirby you asked?
Well, he was the man known for co-creating the Fantastic Four, he draws Ben back to life, scaley orange crust and all and well, it happened. Possibly one of the only times a superhero character was brought back to life by Divine Intervention and not by science or alien technology, which I imagine probably was weird and confusing for some readers.
Which brings me to mind something I’ve thought about when writing stories.
Are writers gods in a way?
In a way yes, in my theory (note this is a theory; a opinion, I’m not saying this is the Heresay, or way it must be) but from my own experiences writing, I can safely feel that in a way at one point or another, a writer has played “God” at some point in their literary career. By that I mean, they played “God” as in being a God of creation. In writing, you create a fictional world, characters, how these characters behave; their past, families, how they interact with loved ones and strangers. Like some gods, you judge the characters based on the actions they make, yet at the same time you present these same choices before them in the term of “plot” and “storyline” giving them a purpose and you and you alone decide what the outcome will be. In a way that is how some people perceive God depending on your belief system: He has a purpose for those he created, he controls the outcomes of things and uses them for certain situations.
When a person writes a original story, its the same way, the story is in your hands, you’re deciding the outcome of it and how it will effect all the characters minor and major. A good writer gives their characters trials and tribulations/challenges to overcome, even though the characters do not acknowledge or care about the existence of who wrote them. That is also another parallel as well, when writing your characters spend their whole time in the story with their own problems, their own path, their own life; they choose not to notice you. Reflecting the way that happens in real life with people who choose not to admit to the existence of a higher power, but still go along their own way on the journey of life without any help or hindrance at all and still making it out okay and normally.
Now notice I’m only bringing up original work and not say fanfiction, the fact is fanfiction, although there are ways in which pre-existing stories can be explored in writing, are only that-stories based on pre-existing work, you are only building on top on another world already created. Whereas with original stories you are fully creating a whole new existence that will be read and viewed. Neither one is better than the other, and speaking as someone on both sides of the spectrum I can’t say which is the right choice as both balance each other out and one cannot survive without the other.
When writing for the first time a comic book, a novel, a children’s story, etc keep in mind you are a technically a god that creates a world and its inhabitants for the sake of your readers, so always take special care to take your time and prepare, just like how the Judeo-Christian God took seven days to create each and every little thing on this earth, take your time and carefully plan out what and how you want your story to go to make it something people will want to spend their time and money to read. Only you can decide what is best for your characters and what you want them to do with their fate. For these may be characters that your readers could relate to and care about, and who knows may one day becomes important literary figures in the near future.
At the same time, I should note that it doesn’t mean you should developed a total “god complex” in the negative way. Be humble and don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion on a character, a story development, or a situation in the plot that seems to be going nowhere. Observe your surroundings and think about your own experiences that could be helpful to the story. But remember that even though you created this world in fiction, others may have a different viewpoint or interpretation for it. Listen and understand but never dictate if its the right or wrong choice. For like theological studies, everyone has their theories and they all make for a well-rounded concept.
Creating a world of fiction, and characters that go through “life” in a purpose or design under the guise of “storyline/plot” is all part of being a writer in any field. Which is why I thought the concept of making “God” in the Fantastic Four comic book look like Jack Kirby, make a little bit of sense to me.
You probably saw my tweet about this, but its something that I started thinking about. In our society, a lot of concern has started with the way many of our schools and the children that attend them are heading in a negative direction. When we don’t have School Administrators that abuse their powers and persecute children trying to deal with their own problems with their peers, bullying, corruption, and school violence against other students rear their ugly heads.
It made me look back on the Fear Street books written by R. L. Stein.
I’m not bashing on him or his work, I love the Fear Street stories and got a good scare out of them as a young teenager. In fact, I still kept many of my old Fear Street books to this day. But I can’t help but look back on this and ponder to myself….
Most of the stories usually were written for young adults in mind (tweens and teenagers) so a lot of the characters were teens that readers could relate to, and identify with. Though, I have to admit, in my personal opinion, some characters were hit and misses, appearing more as archetypes then actual three-dimensional characters. But what drew some of us fans in was the stories about these teens discovering weird creepy situations they wanted to explore, and take initiative in solving the problems surrounding these haunting or slasher scenarios. Which is great and as a kid I got into that, I would have rather face a horror scenario head-on and save the day then cower in fear or let the grown-ups handle it while I screamed helplessly.
And naturally, since teenagers have more of their life experiences in High School, there were a lot of stories that took place in high school and dealt with the teen slasher genre/cliches. A possessed teacher or cheerleader going on a vicious bloodbath, a crazy psychotic student, or a “unnatural evil force” that picked off both teachers and students one by one.
Looking back I thought…How many lawsuits has this one school gone through?
And I looked back even more at the books in the series and realized how many of them were more fit into the teenage slasher genre and how few there were on paranormal activities that occurred. And comparatively there were probably more teen slasher stories than paranormal horror stories. The “Evil Cheerleader” saga being an approximate close example of a combination of the two.
And “The Homecoming Queen Is Dead” played up as a vengeful ghost story until it revealed to have a psychotic killer as the antagonist of the story.
So, all this, and how our media jumps on any news regarding school violence it comes across, made me think how this particular High School in Fear Street is still standing with all the money it loses with its court trials?
Parents, families, and loved ones of both Teachers and Students that end up dead in these stories would probably be in the right to look into legal action and there would be more police investigations other than “Some lone cop visits and speaks to the close friends and you never see him being followed up on.” Also as I said before on twitter, imagine the major news networks fighting over a story where all the “supernatural/slasher” killings happen in this one school which many contribute to “A Curse Brought on by an evil family.” It would be reported 24/7 until even the news networks got sick of it. With certain schools you’ve heard about in real life, some legal action against the Administration usually its brought on by an alleged incident that depending on the situation, can either be proven with evidence or dismissed unfortunately. But here in the case of murder these allegations cannot be swept under the rug so easily, particularly since in some of these stories, the horror is that the main character comes upon the murdered victim in some grisly way. If you’re lucky you get a prototypical “You’re Next” written in the corpse’s blood.
(But that is just if you’re special )
That aside, finding your loved one be it a student or a teacher murdered by some psychotic killer in broad daylight, isn’t something that is set aside. So naturally if the news doesn’t get there first, you’re most certainly going to have a huge law team on the scene drafting up some legal course of action, particularly if the murders both slasher and paranormal happened on school grounds. With the length of the book series, it makes me wonder how parents are even sending their kids there. Unless the parents know and doing this as punishment for mouthing back at them or not cleaning their room. Nah, that is not likely….
But still… >.> <.< >.> <.< >.>
Also, take in mind, for the book series called “Evil Cheerleaders” (as it says on the cover) involves young, pretty, popular cheerleaders. CHEERLEADERS possessed and murdered left and right at this school, some of which by what outsiders could foresee as “mysterious circumstances”. Say what you will about it, the laws of “Missing White Woman Syndrome” will not allow it to be contained to only this small city and its mere local newscast.
Now I always found this whole thing interesting and a good story concept to consider when deconstructing the tropes of these Young Adult horror stories series. Having these stories faced with actual outside influence that would take notice of this factually and as realistically as most situations regarding murder and young teens would outside the school or town which it takes place. How would actual law enforcement deal with this instead of having just the characters allude to just one cop that is sent to their house to “have a talk with them” and then that is it. Legal investigations into the teenage character’s death if it was found on school grounds.
Now in the name of simplicity and the reading comprehension the author was writing for, we probably won’t get anything as complex as that, and we can’t ask him anymore than what he has already given us over the years. But for future writers inspired to write their own teen horror story series in the name of a writing challenge and breaking out from some of its cliche writing tropes, its a interesting thing to look into and discuss when looking back on these stories other than through nostalgic goggles.
Since watching Nostalgia Critic’s review of “Bridge to Terabithia” link to video is below, feel free to watch at your discretion…
I feel its right to give credit where credit is due as to what prompted me to write this article topic in the first place.
Since watching it, the premise of the movie (the less we say about its shitty attempt to make itself a stupid “Narnia” movie rip-off in the trailers the better-I still haven’t forgiven the movie for that!) and the source material from which it was based off of, got me back into thinking about the book and many other young adult novels like it. That were described as emotionally, deep, gritty and realistic stories about a young child that learned the lessons of life, death, and love in probably a week then most kids learn for a whole lifetime in reality.
But I’m not going to discuss the review from the movie-adapted by a book standpoint or the movie itself. That is left for movie reviewers to decide. No, instead we will focus on the booknerd’s POV on the literary side of the book itself, and a subject which you maybe heard called “Death By Newbury Award Medal” genre.
Death By Newbury Award Medal
These stories have at the very least a predictable and sometimes generalization that has become a strategic writing formula into itself: The atypical average, blank-slate adolescent boy probably living in a small town/suburbanite area, who is socially awkward but loyal to his family and really a kindhearted person but lacks the courage or self-confidence to maintain his convictions or to really survive the Gray morality of real-life beyond his small town conservative bubble.
One thing I noticed especially in the beginning, was how alot of these settings took place in small-town rural “hick” areas, where it seems like the typical things that would normally happen in a small-town the same as any modern city, are suddenly ditched or swept away because, “Hey it’s a small-town, we’re simple we can get away with stuff like that.” like lack of parental supervising, law enforcement, or that as I brought up in the book “Shiloh”, medical professionals are forced to do extra jobs in fields untrained in other areas, putting both them, and the other at risk in uncertain treatments. Whereas if it’s a rural farm area, you know they would have at least one Veterinarian present for farm animals. As a young girl who did live in a small town, it was silly to see how our communities were portrayed in these books, and compare them to how some of our own small town communities were like in actuality. At one point, I wondered if any of them had been to a modern day small-town or did they just cheat and watch “The Andy Griffith Show” to get inspiration.
They meet a pet-usually a dog, or a quirky best friend, that opens this “quiet shy introverted boy” to all that life has to offer, in a Hallmark-Made-for-TV like journey into self-discovery. Most books have branched out to young girls as well, but the “Boy and his dog” cliche could always be found in these types of stories always wrapped around each other.
And everything is fine until something bad happens and the sudden loss of the dog archetype or the best friend, makes the boy (or girl, in the more modern day versions came to be) come face to face with the concept of death and his character development stems from his maturity into manhood by dealing with this overwhelming loss and pain in all categories both Psychologically, Emotionally, Physically, Spiritually, and Mentally.
Now in real life, these things especially for a child at a young age do not just suddenly obtain all these things in realizations and handle them well with a bittersweet happy ending all at once. And above all so quickly, that is usually the instance of the writer shortening up the story because of time. In real life, some of these instances can still have a long lingering impact on the child, either scarring them for life or reflect in ways not always represented in the books’ endings.
Its common for children’s stories to use animals as a means of the child developing a connection and life-long friendship that helps shape them. Animals have been known to have a deeper connection to humans and been useful in therapeutic cases with those suffering from social anxiety, depression, and other such issues. Children gravitate towards animals because of their ability to be non-commutative in the verbal sense of human beings. They can’t talk back, so children will talk and engage with them, with only the animal to listen and not in a bad mishandling attempt to talk back, judge, or offer unsolicited advice to the child.
And most often, the death of a pet is the first experience a child has in dealing with issues of life after death and their own mortality. Which is why I can understand writers using this writing formula, but when its been overused constantly, it turns into the children’s literary version of the comic book world’s “Women in Refrigerators.” Having the pet/best friend die, so the male boy character enters into emotional manhood and maturity in the form of character development.
“Bridge to Tarabithia” “Shiloh” and “Where The Red Fern Grows” offered good examples of how these stories can be well-written and impacting on a child’s life affirming lesson, offering relatable characters, a realistic environment any child has gone probably walked through, and last but not least a real situation in which a child must face and learn to grow up in albeit harshly and quickly. Which is why these stories are unforgettable classics and should be respected as such when adapting them into movies.
Nowadays, it can go very well, or end badly depending on how you write it. It seems as if most stories will play on that the more traumatic the death of a loved one/pet/friend happens to a child, and how “magically” they grow into adulthood-the closet you are to winning that Newbury Medal Award.
However, there is one book I had read which to me seem to fit all the cliches, but didn’t bring any substance to them or made it life-affirming.
And that story I felt was “StoneFox” written by John Reynalds Gardiner.
First of all, the name of the dog is not named StoneFox, it is in fact Searchlight. So some book covers for this story may in fact be misleading. The name refers to a character in the book named StoneFox who is the Native American character of the story.
And though it was heavily acclaimed and popular enough to make a television movie staring Buddy Ebsen and Joey Cramer, the book in my honest opinion really didn’t effect me that strongly as the target child demographic of an animal-lover and adolescent.
Now to clarify: I don’t feel this books sucks or its the worst children’s story ever, I’ve heard of far worse ones out there, but I feel like you won’t get much out of it but heartbreak and nothing to show for it in a character-reflection. At least, a character inflection not in the boy-hero of the story.
The stories characters revolve around Little Willy, his dog Searchlight, his grandfather (who has no particular name), Mr. Clifford Synder, and Stone Fox. The other characters are minor such as Mr. Foster, Doc Smith, Lester, and Dusty the Drunk that are there to help move the exposition of the story alone.
The reading comprehension is around 4th to 5th grade level for a child with simplified non-overly graphic and descriptive prose. So, I will be more on the characters and plot since there really doesn’t seem to be an over-arching noticeable theme at the moment with the exception of a boy’s loyalty to his grandfather, which is basic and not explored too deeply.
The story’s setting is in an undisclosed location out in the American Old West, and opens with Little Willy and his dog Searchlight entering the house and finding their grandfather laying sick in bed. Now at first Little Willy doesn’t notice it as he has known grandfather to be a practical jokester and was always teasing him, even leaving the town doctor Doc Smith to believe Little Willy over the own patient, but it changes his mind when he sees that the grandfather has not really played as well as he used to do and runs some tests on him. The diagnosis; it’s not flu, cholera, scarlet fever, measles. Nope….Its that “He has lost the will to live.”
Very depressing the first few pages isn’t it?
Also, losing the “will to live” is a psychological condition of depression which can in turn effect the health of someone if they break down enough to not be as mobile or energetic as they probably once were, but you can’t help but wonder if “The Will To Live” was not another term for something else altogether in which the writer censored for something way less pleasant.
Though, losing the ‘will to live’ doesn’t really make sense from a physically medical standpoint and can’t be strictly diagnoses, which makes sense that they changed it from that to having a stroke in the movie adaption.
Naturally, the boy takes the news hard as they have no other immediate family members within the area the child could live with in the event of the grandfather’s passing, and grandfather would either end up dead or in a hospital leaving the child to be taken to an orphanage perhaps. Also, we don’t get any clear explanation or reason as why the grandfather is ‘Losing The Will To Live” and is bedridden in a sickly way. So its up to Little Willy in Chapter 2, to tend the farm and work the plow while his father is in bed, with no horse they use Searchlight as a replacement to plow the crops.
It’s not until Chapter 3, we start to get some characterization of who Little Willy was, sort of, we know first off he loves his grandfather and he is ready to help him with the farm in whatever capacity he can. He is always asking the teacher, Miss Williams questions and has a close friendship with his dog. Basically he is your typical, normal every-other kid meant to be a cookie-cutter cut out of every other child character that the child can see themselves as or easily imagine is them in a self-insert way. We get he loves his grandfather, and his pet dog, not to mention as inquisitive as any other student in his class, but that is all we get so far. That he has a strong loyal tie to his grandfather. Which is nothing to be discouraged, and makes him a likable character, but it’s not surprising as the book being written as a short story in simple prose Little Willy doesn’t have that much leeway to grow throughout the rest of the story as the other children in other “Newbury Award” books get.
Now, as I said before, we don’t find out why for some reason Grandma “Lost The Will To Live” or what caused it, but in the story, we get some idea later on in Chapter 4.
That night, he gets a terrifying visit from a Clifford Synder, chain-smoking tax collector who actually sneaks into the sick old man’s house and threatens the grandfather at gunpoint how much he owes in back taxes…
Now given the setting and the time period, maybe we were meant to take this act under Suspension of Disbelief, but I don’t think what this guy does can be considered legal under any court of law.
If this story took place today in the 21st century, he would be fired and put on trial, especially if a minor was in the mix. Not even a tax insurance agency, would go as low as to have one of their own collectors use physical force or a weapon within presence of a CHILD and get away with it, and if grandpa wasn’t the only guy who had this happen to him, imagine the class action lawsuit. However, The Grandfather and Little Willy are not so lucky to live in the 21st century, and Little Willy learns from Mr. Synder that he owns the state of Wyoming $500 dollars in back taxes. Something, that the father had been hiding from Little Willy all this time with no solution.
So from a literary analysis standpoint, we can safely assume that the grandfather really was suffering from anxiety and depression at the thought of not being able to pay enough to keep his farm that it worn him down into sickness. The book never says it, but reading back on it now, you get that sense that is what the idea was in mind. This cannot be easy on Little Willy, as he is both gripping with the conflict of losing both his grandfather, the farm, and financial issues at so young an age.
And with that, the child-reader is drawn into the main protagonist’s sympathies.
Chapter 5, is where the plot starts to move along. Little Willy takes a part-time job at a general store owned by Lester, who I guess since they live in such a small one-horse town, can probably be acquainted on first name terms with him, so the surname isn’t really all that important. Doc Smith, does show a smart side, in questioning the logic in why the grandfather would not keep paying the taxes liked he should’ve and putting them off only to have it end up in this situation and be neglectful of it. It’s a good issue to bring up despite how we may feel about the sickly grandfather, if his crops were in a good season, then whatever he sold he would have used to pay the state taxes, but for some odd unexplained reason doesn’t and as much as I would hate to say it, rightfully would have to pay them back, even if the means the tax collector used was not in the right. The grandfather living longer should have known the consequences in not paying his taxes as he should have.
However, a child reading this story, who has no knowledge of complex financial matters that affect their world at this point in their life, doesn’t see it like that, that is what their parents would see reading this story. The child sees pity upon the grandpa and the grandson, that they would lose their farm and the grandfather would die. Drawing the child into what will happen next without any regard as to the circumstances wrought that had lead this to it in the first place.
Even when the topic of selling the farm comes up, the grandfather makes no discussion about it, even though it would be enough to pay off the state. But on the other hand they wouldn’t have a place to live. Though, in most situations, the house would have been repossessed anyway.
While working his fingers to the bone, Little Willy sees a poster for a dog-racing contest, and the winner will win…A NEW CAR!
No, just kidding, they win $500 dollars coincidently enough.
Chapter 6, Little Willy signs up for the adult prize-winning money race, although, technically he would have had to have a guardian’s signature or permission to actually do this since it could be considered a liability issue if anything was to happen to the child during the race. And then we get the typical part of any “Winning The Contest to Raise Money to save The Orphanage/Clubhouse/Farm whatever” – The nay-sayers.
Which come to think of it, are pretty tame and not that intimidating to make the scene an obstacle to be overcome for the character, Little Willy uses his college money he saved up to enter to win which the bank teller tells him is a mistake, and even The Mayor who’s overseeing this race and probably has for years, no doubt knows how dangerous it can be and how much a hazardous risk it could be, maybe even witnessing a few accidents himself. So he probably would know what he is talking about saying that for his own safety, Willy should probably stick to the children’s dog-sled race. But Willy GASPS defies him because he is the hero of the story and will save the farm-that if not for the grandfather, would have not been in this position in the first place.
Now six chapters in, we FINALLY get to the title character, StoneFox, a Shoshone Native American, who is the strong, silent, intimidating looking archetype character, all of which Little Willy gets his backstory about from Dusty The Town Drunk. About how he never talked to white men for stealing his people’s land (Black men we’re not sure yet as it never is brought up) and that the reason why everyone thinks Willy is foolish for participating in the race hoping to win is that in every race that Stone Fox has been in, he has never lost. To the point that almost no one ever tries to anymore. His secret, really fast samoyed dogs.
Care to elaborate….No, just really fast Samoyed dogs?
All right then…
Once Little Willy learns about the rival Stone Fox, we cut to a scene in chapter seven which is short but sets up the relationship between the two characters, Little Willy and StoneFox, here he is walking at night going to pick up medicine for his grandfather though he really doesn’t want to thinking the store would be closed anyway, until he comes upon a deserted barn with a kennel full of Samoyed dogs which he carefully pets.
StoneFox however, is not amused and accusing Little Willy of trespassing upon his property, he socks the boy in the eye. A bit of a disportioncate response, for a child who snuck into your property to just pet some cute sled doggies. But after being punched, Willy stands back up and tells StoneFox that he will indeed compete with him in the race.
For the reader, this sets up a tense yet very G-rated rivalry and competitive situation between these two characters, now we merely can only call them rivals as Stone Fox is not really the bad guy of the story. We have Clifford Synder for that, but we do see two sides to this confrontation, a child willing to beat him to win the money to save his grandfather’s farm and a man whose land was unfairly stolen from him and his tribe that he could use the money for to win it back.
You’re not sure who to root for at this point. And even if you did, you would find that situation is split down the middle. We can say its easy to root for Little Willy and let him win over Stone Fox if he was the antagonist, but Stone Fox is not, he is not a villain, nor can we categorize him as even a sympathetic villain either. His background explains why he is a gruff, misanthropic, anti-social man and even if the child-reader doesn’t understand it at first, they soon grow up to understand it later when they read up on American History and think back on this story. He was unjustly wronged and as a result, developed trust issues with other people, much like with Judd Trevors in Shiloh but only instead of taking it out in the form of Animal Cruelty, Stone Fox instead shuts down and became a solemn anti-social angry person with an obsessive drive to win and still remain angry at those around him. And we do at least understand him for it, the question is though, is how will this turn out between Little Willy and Stone Fox at the end of the story.
Next chapter is the big race, and we see that Little Willy gets a black and blue swollen shut eye for his troubles from last night, but lies about StoneFox hitting him, as he does realize that it was wrong that he snuck into StoneFox’s barn without permission and that forwards a step in their relationship. Its never really that explored or touched upon, but I think from this there is a slight mutual respect starting to form.
AAAAANNND THEY’RE OFF!
Here we get more into a descriptive look at the dog race, and what I think works here is that we see another way StoneFox races other than having very fast dogs. He plans his routes and the race methodically, conserving not only his energy, but his dogs as well and using the environment to his advantage much like Willy does. He actually doesn’t just race but he races like it’s a strategy. None of the other characters say it, but its shown to us and that I think works out well. And it compares to how Willy is racing as he is going extremely fast and pushing both himself and Searchlight to the limit. However, for all his overexerted speed, Willy has an advantage over the other racers and that is his small size and light weight going over the shortcut that was the frozen lake.
Past the other racers, Stone Fox and Little Willy are now going neck and neck racing each about to reach the finish line….
Wait for it…
OH MY GOD NOOOOOOOOOO!
No warning, nothing to lead up to it. BOOM! The dog keels inches towards the finish line. And Willy is freaking out as he rightfully does. Everyone in the race is shocked, as are the readers at this point I imagine. And this is the part in the story as heartwarming as it is. Made me wonder. What happened?
Death By Newbury Stories will sometimes throw in a twist like this out of nowhere and unexpected, sometimes to illustrate to children how death can occur unexpectedly and without warning. But whereas in Bridge to Tarebithia, the death was unexpected because it was a death by accident, something that was not planned or no one expected would happen. We didn’t think that Leslie would swing on the rope in the rain and drown in the river, we were only told this when Jesse was informed by his parents the news. Which is a good perspective on how in real life some of us come across news of a loved one’s death when they meet a fatal accidental death.
But here, we knew that Searchlight was an adult dog and had been around the family for a long time, but the focus was all on grandpa being sickly and weak, so we all expected that it was going to be grandpa that would kick the bucket. Not the dog. And throughout the whole story, the dog was described as older but extremely healthy.
An interesting plot twist to be sure, but a very harsh one as there was no reason for the dog to kill over, other than provide a big climax in the story give us a fake-out that Little Willy will not win the prize money.
Stone Fox sees the dead dog and promptly takes out his rifle and fires it in the air, creating a line in the snow and threatening that if anyone stops him by crossing over this line, he will shoot them on sight.
Well, it’s the Old West, I guess that was okay to say that in a crowd back then.
And, in a rather dark, bittersweet, heartwarming scene. Stone Fox picks up Searchlight and carries him across the finish line, conceding the race to Willy. Thus he wins the money and saves the farm.
Now, to the other racers, it was indeed a pretty unfair way to win, and it takes their hard earn training and work flushing it down the drain. Though, lets be honest here, we all know that no one is going to question Stone Fox, above all Stone Fox with a big freaking rifle on hand. But on the other hand, you come off as a douche bag depriving a kid of the award money when he is using it to save his farm and his grandfather. Which you honestly can’t blame the kid for, as he is doing it out of the goodness of his heart. So, in that regard as hurt as the racers have in their right mind to be, the sensible thing was probably to back down just this once.
Now this the part of the “Death By Newbury Award” trope where the child of the pet gains a huge character development, but we don’t see that in Little Willy, instead its in Stone Fox, who opens up to the white boy that he punched a while ago, and sacrifices his win to the child. Concluding their rivalry to an amicable alliance.
Review and Afterthought
As much as I hate the dog’s death coming out of left field this harshly, I have to say I do like how they had Stone Fox reach out to Little Willy at the end. Instead of taking the cheesy saccharine route, and having him just HAND over his winnings to Little Willy, smiling and learning a lesson or some such nonsense-they did it in now that I look back upon it, a pretty badass way to do it.
They had the character of Stone Fox, have a slight character development in the story, while still maintaining, his gruff, apathetic, no-nonsense approach at life. And that is okay, it shows him performing a unexpected act of kindness for Willy, without making him have to give up that behavior he was defined for in the beginning of the story, and that they did it in a subtle way that fits his overall character personality. Showing that he can still be misanthropic and anti-social but have a heart and compassion for someone as well no matter who they are. It teaches children that you don’t have to make a huge deal or boasting your good deeds in this big extremely happy way in order for them to make a difference, sometimes a good deed that is done subtly, and behind the shadows with a quiet voice can mean just as more. Its a shame that we don’t get any “mature into manhood” character development from Little Willy, but since his character was already established to be a goody two-shoes responsible boy caring for his grandfather’s farm while was sick, it would seem ridiculous and redundant in the first place. And I feel that for the execution at the time it worked much better on Stone Fox than on Little Willy. And having someone develop a good character development from the death of a dog is better than having a dog needlessly die and no one has a character development at the end.
However, as much as I enjoyed Stone Fox’s character development, I found myself disappointed overall in this book, as the death of the dog is harsh and unnecessary, the decisions of the grandfather are questionable, and the child-reader won’t get alot of literary substance from this story as nothing much is really described that well first off and or doesn’t add more to the story. I know reading it I didn’t really myself, but if your kid is interested in Old West stories and you find the “Kid Hero saves the Important Landmark/Building/Home” plot appealing your child might like it, just be sure to warn them about the dog death at the end.
Hi everyone, long time no see. With the iBook, Kindle, and other forms of media that have enabled us to read our favorite books. There is one section that has fallen by the waste side lately, and that was the children’s picture book with read along cassette tape and the “Press and Read-along” book. Have they become obsolete, or have they evolved into an another updated form of media reading while still retaining the same charm they had over many years ago?
Lets discuss and find out shall we?
Today, we take a look at…
The Storybook and Tape
Different from an audiobook, the Talking Storybook, basically was a standard Children’s Picture Book that would come with a cassette tape. On it, a man or woman (mostly a woman from the ones I have received) would read the story complete with background music, sound effects, and a signal that would tell the kid to read the page in the form of a chiming bell-like sound. The ones based around Disney movies would say it was Tinkle bell, but once you saw that other non-Disney books had the same bell signal you picked on it wasn’t really.
The books were specially packaged in a plastic bag or case, as to not damage the tape. You put the tape in and the person read the story as you read along in the book. Here we have a Sesame Street brand version involving a story of Big Bird
This was mostly a generic form of reading entering the media age, long before the use of Kindles or iBooks but along the same path as an audiobook. So companies that focused on Children’s Entertainment took a lot of advantage of these.
Knowing Disney, it was no stranger to taking advantage of any marketing tactic to further its promotional movies and so you may remember some of them coming in these story and tapes with the pink borders. Down below.
Mine personally was a “Bambi” story I had gotten one time for Easter, back then whenever a movie came out, the summary of the movie would be simplified into a Children’s Picture Book form and then a person would still read the story, but instead of saying the lines the characters would say, quotes from the movie that fit the scene would be added. For example, was one my brother used to have that was a “Star Wars” Return of the Jedi Storybook and Tape. With the signal being R2-D2′s cute little beeping sounds to let you know when to turn the page. Actual lines and dialogues would be heard by the actors playing them. They sometimes mentioned it a bit in the corner of the book as a further gimmick to you interested in buying it. But it worked. Not to mention the movie’s soundtrack would take the place of generic whimsical children’s music that would be played over any other storybook and tape.
Very very early versions of these would have vinyl records instead of tapes.
Now the use of these storybook and tapes was they provided an easier way for the child-reader to read along with the story at hand. Most commonly in the form as a mode of time-killing entertainment upon very long road trips and family vacations, when reading in the car over bumpy roads proved to be quite distracting and difficult. Also, it helped guide the child to read along with the book if they’re occasional reading comprehension and speed were not quite there, allowing the child to get into the practice of reading left to right but still able to read the story and understand what is going on as they follow along.
For that reason it was quite beneficial to young children as well as those whose parents traveled a lot on the occasional road trip, also, for older children with good reading comprehension and literacy, you could live with or without either the book or the tape, as you could just read the book as is without the tape, or if you lost the book, the tape itself would provide just as a good basis for a kid’s first time audio book.
Since cassette tapes are not as readily used today as they were twenty years ago, not many are seen or marketed in mainstream stores as you would think. Most of them sell on ebay for a good price but as far as any newer versions out there you would be hard pressed to find. As Kindle and iBooks have taken over that market for children’s stories, but there have been forms in what is called a “Speak and Read” book, brought out mostly as holiday and special occasions where a person will speak into the recording microphone attached within the book and read the story as they go, provided a convenient way for a long-distance relative or parent to be a surrogate bedtime reader for the child, as they read along hearing the person’s voice as if they were right reading them the story in person. Mostly marketed for grandparents when buying gifts their toddler-infant grandchild.
The Press and Read Along Book
These books are a more earlier version of the recording books mentioned at the end of the first segment above, more computerized and just more buttons to press to fill in the actions of the story. How it works is that you follow the story along and in place of an action, word, person, or thing will be a symbol that matches the button on side. When you come upon that picture you press the symbol and it makes noise.
Well, sort of, one of the things that even the books have mentioned themselves in their own “meta” way is because of the recording sometimes what sounds like the object may sound disjointed or altered.
Most issues you can into these kind of books were if used constantly you had to replace the batteries. They were as useful in re-readability as long as the child is within that reading level and once they evolve beyond that and go to more challenging, complex reading comprehension that was pretty much it.
Nowadays, the concept of the book is the same, just the style and size layout is different. More colorful, shapely buttons, and even sound clearer sharper sound as technology has improved.
You will find these in most bookstores or places where they carry children’s books. And they make good gifts for children at a very early stage in reading.
The Chocolate Touch and Chocolate Fever-A Book Review
I love chocolate, in fact I am one of the best-holicsholics you could be around. A chocoholic-which is a term of endearment to describe someone who loves chocolate, and is not picky about the kind of dessert recipes it offers. Though you have to remember, it’s not a very healthy or nutritional kind of food to ingest, it is not as bad as saying getting loaded off Captain Morgan one night and drunk dialing an old ex of yours. But we make do with what life gives us.
But, instead of dealing with drunk dials to friends and exes at 3 in the morning, chocoholics usually deal with getting diabetes. Now, today we are looking at two stories that seem to be so similar you would think they were written by the same author. Or the plots switched back and forth. And these books I am talking about are as follows: “The Chocolate Touch” by Patrick Skene Catling and “Chocolate Fever” by Robert Kimmel Smith.
It’s interesting to note how the two main characters both are young average boys that are only defined by their love of chocolate and candy. Both boys who are named John Midas and Henry Green, the main characters in both of their respective stories. In fact, when I looked back on remembering these books, I got both story lines mixed up, thinking that “The Chocolate Touch” had “Chocolate Fever”‘s plot and vice versa. Lets look at both books and untangle the differences, shall we?
The Chocolate Touch
The general plot line here, is essentially the modernized (or as modernized as 1950s-1970s can give us) child-friendly retelling of the legend of King Midas. Hence, the main character’s last name. Which interestingly enough, is never really brought up even as a throw away joke. The boy has an almost unhealthy obsession with candy, not only eating it over other kind of food but not sharing it with any of his other friends. This book goes hand in hand as not only a lesson about healthy eating, but about selfishness. Right away, you pick up on the moral of the story immediately, although it still happens to be revealed in the back of the book like most moral stories tend to do. The boy’s desire is not lost on the parents, which in a way that differentiates the two stories, the parents are more aggressive in trying to halt their son’s consumption of sweets whereas the other parents seem to take a lackadaisical approach from what it looks like. John’s family become concern when at the dinner table that morning, they discover small dots (which are not explained other than a possibly sign of malnutrition) which prompts them to take him to see the doctor. Dr. Cranium.
So wait, are they doing by Comic book logic that the name you are born with automatically determines your career?
The parent attempts to make John Midas eat healthier foods and less chocolate are well-intentioned, by don’t do much good through no fault of their own we learn, as like with any kid, John finds a way to work around their rules. Which bites him back in the but when he has to swallow down some nasty-tasting vitamin tonic. Hah, that will show him!
The story continues when John finds a coin with a picture of fat kid on one side and the initials J.M on the other. The boy hangs on to it and comes across a candy shop which looks as if it was one of those “It just opened across the street” kind of deals. Adding to an air of mystery and little bit of suspense to entice the impressionable young child-reader. Even more stranger is when the store owner automatically know about John and that the candy he wants to buy is the “exact same currency” as the coin that the boy is holding-making all the pieces fall into place like some big conveniently laced conspiracy to get John Midas to learn a lesson. Though I couldn’t help thinking as I read this how awkward it would have been if another kid entered the store and while standing there with his cash on hand to make a purchase, he sees John Midas and the store owners transaction and gets a tad ticked off that he realizes his cash is no good there. Good as a Aesop McGuffin perhaps, but probably not a good idea in the local business sense. Anyway, the kid buys a box of chocolates from the man with the coin (and no receipt) and goes home to nom on them.
Now if you know the story of King Midas, this is the part where our main character starts to develop the infamous touch that starts to turn his world upside down. At first he enjoys everything he touches turning to chocolate and devouring it (including fluoride flavored chocolate when he tries brushing his teeth) but then it starts causing more trouble for him later on in the chapters. Each detailing the trouble he gets in with his friends, at home, at school, and finally with his own family. As the final straw is when he tries to console his grieving mother and she turns into a chocolate statue kissing her on the cheek. Realizing all this happened the moment he found the coin and brought the chocolate boxes.
John runs to the store where he finds him to confront the old man. Who explains to him he was doing this to teach John Midas a lesson, one which understandably he takes it upon himself to basically tell John flat-out to his face, seeing how John is too busy freaking out to even think straight. The storekeeper tells John Midas, that his greed and selfishness for candy was what made him find the coin in the first place as it only can be seen by those are greedy. And the store and the coin, in all it’s magical whimsy, was nothing more than karmic punishment made to teach John Midas a lesson. As well as any other kid that has some problem that can be solved with a magic coin and some old man acting as the curator of Divine Judgement apparently.
Of course, John runs home to find his mother and everything he touched turned back to normal and as everything was before he had his chocolate touch. We are not told what the reaction was of those who personal property John Midas may have previously ruined by turning them into chocolate. But I think we know that when John gets older and gets invited to a party that serves chocolate, I imagine he is going to have one heck of a confectionary PSTD.
This story details Henry Green, who has the same situation as John Midas, but other candy is not involved at this point. He is huge chocoholic as well, but his family seem to be….Strangely lacks in this department. In the story, they make no qualm, or concern about Henry Green’s chocolate habit. Not even a gagging sound when in the book it is implied that he goes as far as to put chocolate sauce on his mashed potatoes instead of gravy. His sister calls him a “chocolate freak” and his parents fill the cabinets with every kind of brand and flavored chocolate imaginable. Comparatively to “The Chocolate Touch” this kid’s behavior feels a tad encouraged, whereas the parents were going out of their way to angle their son’s candy addiction. The main plot point/conflict of the story, is that the “little brown spots” that show up on Henry Green are used in the story more effectively than John Midas’s condition, in which the spots are a motivation to take him to the doctor and start his chocolate journey of self-discovery, but are never brought up again in the rest of the chapters. Probably written off as a condition of malnutrition.
In school, Henry Green, notices these strange brown spots on him and the teacher worried it might be something serious takes him to the nurses office thinking they are either measles, scarlet fever, or the chicken pox. As these spots increase the teacher and school nurse immediately take the boy to the hospital. Which makes one beg the question of did anyone think to call the parents and tell them where they were taking their kid?
Yeah, this becomes worrisome later on in the chapters as we will see later.
The spots become more of a focal point. As instead of being tormented by alienating his friends and family with a sweet-tooth ability, Henry Green hits a sense of low self-esteem and damaged dignity as the brown spots cover his body and he emit’s a chocolate-scented body order which some of the minor characters comment about, only in the form of someone asking if they’re drinking chocolate milk or having a snack.
Also the spots make a loud “popping” sound for some reason, which to the book’s credit, actually doesn’t play it straight and in fact, points out that spots popping like a cork screw (that is how the school nurse describes the noise btw) as extremely unusual to the point that it’s unnerving. The condition is a new discovery in the medical community and gains the attention of the press, calling it a highly dangerous and mysterious disease which shatters Henry Green’s happy little world and thinks of himself as a weirdo and freak, unable to take it anymore, he runs away from the hospital and wanders around the city (seriously, did anyone think about calling the parents?) until he comes across a large cargo truck and hides in the backseat. He is found by Mack, a truck driver who luckily for Henry Green is the not the creepy “driving out all alone at night does things to a man’s psyche while picking up underage hitchhiker on the side” type and shares a sandwich with him, more concerned out of the kindness of his heart to take the boy back home to his parents (who are probably tearing the city apart looking for their kid!) then being weirded out about the child’s appearance or concern if the spots are contagious at all. Henry, grateful for Mack’s generosity agrees to let the truck driver take him home.
UNTIL MUGGERS JUMP OUT OF THE BUSHES! OH NOES!
Yeah, two robbers hold Mack and Henry Green hostage playing to take whatever is in the back of the truck to sell for money. Thinking its expensive furs when really its full of candy bars. Coincidence, I think not.
The robbers don’t let them go nor do they ditch their idea and take them back to their hideout. Their plans are thwarted, when people’s dogs (lured by the smell of Henry’s chocolate body order) surround the place barking so loudly outside, one of the robbers opens the door and the dogs ambush them, this distraction causes Mack to break free of his ropes and tackle then tie up the robbers. The dogs lead their owners into the hideout thus having the robbers turned in by the police. There is a scene in which may cause a lot of real-life dog owners today to probably shake their heads and think to themselves, “yeah that is a bad idea” and that is the dogs running up and licking the boy’s face; mind you, smelling of chocolate, but has a skin condition which for all we know, might secrete something akin to chocolate if the spots emit a cocoa odor from his pores. So having those little doggies licking the boy’s face would almost be a death sentence ready to happen. Granted, this was written and published probably beFore they discovered the affect chocolate has on a dog’s system. But still it is one of those moments even in a kid’s book that does make you shake your head and chuckle.
Someone does the smart thing and finally contacts Henry’s parents who are relieved to find him safe and sound, before Mack drops Henry off though, they stop by his distributor and unloads the candy to a candy store owner (described in a more corporate office than the “Mom and Pa shop” from the other story) who he introduces Henry to as Alfred “Sugar” King. Who ends up being the guy that cures Henry, but gives him his lesson as well.
Note: The two stories mirror each other, as both “chocolate conflicts” are only solved by the victim learning a lesson and having it revealed to them. Chocolate Fever, I feel, did a more subtle job of Henry figuring it out himself with a little gentle encouragement from Mr. King. Compared to the lesson being learned at the end in The Chocolate Touch.
Henry, in this story, learns that it’s okay to love things and enjoy them daily. As that is what life is but not to make the best out of the goodness it offers, but too much becomes overwhelming and sometimes we must be sparingly with what we indulge in the most otherwise we become spoiled and hedonistic. Instead of being straight out told this, Mr. Alfred King gives Henry the old “And that young man was me” story, revealing a box of…
So wait, then this chocolate disease is real in this story’s verse? It was evident that Henry was not the only victim, and chocolate is a largely consumable substance. If there is indication that this disease may very well exist, why is Mr. King keeping the cure for himself?
And does it work vice-versa?
If you had a Vanilla Fever, would chocolate pills be a counteract cure to stave it off?
Just one of the many questions that goes through an inquisitive child’s imagination that will not be solved. Or at least, solved in the book however, as the story wraps up with a happy ending: Henry returns home cured of his karmic chocolate disease, and he learns a lesson. Perhaps, as the parents still off him chocolate, though he turns to cinnamon instead. Another vicious cycle continues?
We will never know
Review and Afterthoughts
Both books as you will obviously notice, rely on the use of chocolate to convey their messages across to children to teach them about the values of selflessness and the downsize to overindulgence in anything that takes the place of real life people and activities. Mostly because chocolate is a widely popular type of treat that is introduced early on to most anyone as a child, and depending on circumstances health-wise, still carry on to adulthood, as they have a lot of versatile resources we have come to love about them. We use them in recipes, as a token of love to others, and as stress-relief.
Children learn about good social skills involving sharing, as well as give-and-take when they have candy on hand. In fact, the first things we tell our kids when they have bags of candy other than “Don’t eat it before supper or you’ll spoil your appetite” is not to eat all of it at once, else you get a stomach ache and to share with their friends and siblings. So naturally, having a book with these morals be about chocolate is understandable and makes sense. But, you still can’t help but feel the similarities outweigh the differences in the story. It wouldn’t be surprising that someone would get the two mixed up by accident.
Both main characters, the boys, really are nothing interesting. Kids can relate to them as being normal kids much like themselves who have a bit of a sweet tooth. But they would be perhaps interested in the situation they are put through, and how they come out of it. Chocolate Fever is more simplified as it is written for younger kids in mind, but is more subtle and realistic in how the child learns its lesson, while for older kids, The Chocolate Touch does come off as having the lesson a bit more contrived and bashes the reader on the head. But still, it gets the job done and the kid at the end of The Chocolate Touch does feel as if he has grown up a little and really had the lesson effect him. Where as subtle as it is with Chocolate Fever, and it does feel refreshing and enlightening to have Henry figure it out himself, you cant help but wonder if maybe the lesson for him will truly stick better to John Midas than it did with Henry Green.
And now if you excuse me, all this talk of chocolate is making me hungry.
I know I haven’t been up to date on my book reviews as I would have liked. I won’t make up any excuses for it, to be honest, I have a problem with procrastination at times. Something which I’ve had dealt with alot. Which is not to say that I don’t get other work done.
Sometimes when I am juggling with more than one project I seem to focus on the one project first to the point that I tune out all others. Which is not a good habit I should be developing if I want to do a blog that includes both articles and maybe (I am not saying it’s in the stars) maybe some videos. I know there are a few of you that follow me and it must be frustrating to wait on what the next book review is going to be. Trust me, I have been there as a follower of other people’s work.
So I will get more organized to get some book reviews done.
Thank you for your time and appreciation.
As well as patience.
This week, we look into the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books.
The most recent memories I had reading them were two books I had discovered in my brother’s room as a kid, one was science fiction and the other was a sword and sorcery story story about elves.
I read them like any other book…that is, until I realized they weren’t like any other books at all. Usually, normal books will go through a linear fashion left to right. Each story, chapter, page number, plot, etc is in an organized step by step order. Whereas, with the “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories, however, they have a mix and match system.
The major difference will always be the outcome of the story’s plot. A marketable technique in which the reader, in an interactive way, will decide the story’s outcome based on the decisions he or she has made along the way. Much similar to multi-chaptered endings in certain video games, you can either like the ending your character has faced. Or (reset) the story and start over. Maybe wanting to choose the other options as well.
Because the writers of these books, know that children when learning to read, are first taught to read the book beginning to end, on the front of every book will read a warning as follows:
“Do not read this book from beginning to end. These pages contain many different adventures that you may have to face (insert who you are pretending to be based on the story’s plot here) From time to time as you read along, you will be asked to make a choice.Your choice may lead to success or disaster.”
“The adventures you have are the results of your choices. You are responsible because you choose! After you make a choice, follow the instructions to see what happens to you next”
“Thank carefully before you make a decision.”
Basically, because you were going to need it. Even if you thought you can work your way out of a scenario or you believed that scenario was the logical choice-nope, it wasn’t sadly.
It still would have been a one-way death trap waiting for you and it was GAME OVER!
But then you could be lucky, and your decision was the right choice. And then rainbows and sunshines for everyone.
These books were a huge best-seller, due to the fact that it allowed the child to interact with the book-they just weren’t limited to imagining themselves in the body of a main character that was pre-made and already had it’s own backstory to fall on written in advance. It was (for the sake of the book’s intentions) a cookie cut-out protagonist following themselves through the hero’s journey. For the first time, they actually were at the driver’s seat, riding the story along making it THEIR adventure, their choice, they were as much as an important part of the plot than the characters major and minor they were reading about.
If there were any comparison to be made, the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books were the video game RPGs of the literary world. The old school RPGs where you chose a character: Race, Sex, Age, Profession, Class, etc. Your avatar would walk along interacting with NPCs (non-playable characters) and then, they would walk up to them sometimes with dialogue options where what they say could either screw you over, or you could get some experience points out of it. As well as maybe a quest, items, or a new traveling companion. However, with the books some of the minor characters are already established depending on your alignment and so what you have to do is watch what you say or do to get the desired outcome. Except instead of experience points, it was the satisfaction that your character lived long enough to survive the next page.
At the bottom of the book near the page corners were small little instructions in which you were asked to continue, go to a certain page number, or you came to your two decisions. Maybe a third one if the situation varies.
However, sometimes the book will lose its mystery and suspense if you read it over and over to the point of exhausting it. Despite that, these books are very highly re-readable, as it draws the child-reader in with what other possibilities the other books of the franchise presents itself with. So naturally, the book itself might lose its flavor, but will draw them into checking out other “Choose Your Own Adventure Books” and the best part is that a lot of those stories come in different ranges to fit every child’s taste and interest. From Fantasy, Mystery, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Horror, Real-life situations, Romance, Historical Fiction, Time Travel, Western; you will probably won’t find a subject that hasn’t been covered in these kind of books.
Well, maybe except erotica fiction, but I doubt it wouldn’t be anymore interesting than “If you think the condom broke panic and turn to page 14″ or “To switch positions turn to page 78″. Though with the ongoing popularity of Erotic novels hitting our bookstores recently, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a adults-only choose your own adventure book with Fifty Shades of Grey. That would be a laugh.
Even Disney and R.L Stine got on the wagon with their own “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories. With the book adapted Disney movies and “Choose Your Own Nightmare.”
There were a few others for Star Wars and Star Trek franchise as well as The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.
Now, the books have a lot going for them. Unique concept, interactive characterization, and a cornucopia of endings of different degrees that will make flipping the pages forwards, backwards, and forwards again seem like they’re worth it. But, there are a few flaws, although nothing serious that has held them back in popularity. Though, these have certainly not been overlooked and may come up eventually in conversations about these stories.
One, is the constant page flipping, depending on how long you intend to go at the story, if you want to take a break and go off to do something else, you might find it hard to know where you left off once you come back to the story. I had this happen on occasion, as I was learning to meander through this strange new concept, as your bookwormish mind is naturally taught to pick up where you left off with you relying on the continuity of the book to keep you focused.
Not necessarily with these kind of books. Because they are not written as straightforward, so its not uncommon at first that you may tend to screw up and get lost from time to time.
But, what seems to help is certain trial and error, as once you get familiar with all the story options, and how these kind of books work, you will find the one that you have previously selected and continue on without any trouble at all.
Another flaw is a small one, but nothing that really can be fixed. As two to three different story options will be back to back in the book, you might be clued in on an important decisions outcome or twist just by seeing it in the next page or while you are thumbing through it. So an ending or as I like to call it “a death trap” (where you get a bad outcome that traps or kills your character off) will be revealed and then you will no doubt avoid it. Therefore, it will ruin the suspense.
But, I think the writers were banking on the short-attention span of some their readers in the beginning to work around this first problem, now I think they may have gotten better about concealing the endings to keep children from accidentally finding them. Hence, spoiling the surprise.
One thing the writers did when it came to endings was add “trick endings”, or “endings that came on a loop” so you could go back if you didn’t like one ending and choose another one. Something you would never get with any run of the mill young adult book.
The books don’t really have any stated moral or lesson to be derived from, as like with their genres the story will vary from time to time so there wouldn’t be any way a moral would slip through unless it was done subtly. But, I think one of the lessons any child at any age reading them will probably pick up, is the importance of how their actions will not only affect them but those around them. As they are in charge of the story, any decisions they make have them responsible for how they will concede to the story’s plot. Will they fix the problem? Will they assist the bad guy or the good guy? Will they do the right thing or will they do the wrong thing-and if so what are the consequences.
It works because it is not TELLING the child-reader straight out in black and white, but they are actually performing this lesson, experiencing it first-hand, and which will carry on with them more in the long run, probably better than someone hitting the lesson over the head with a hammer and not knowing why it should be applied in their own life.
Another great thing about these books, is that it does more to heighten (or even create) the child’s imagination and sense of curiosity. Even if they skim through the pages once, they will still be engrossed in the story and eager to know what happens to their character next, whether that character will live or die. They want to know the outcome and determined to see it through. A positive trait for children to learn at a young age. As such, these books are recommended at a young age when children are their most imaginative and inquisitive.
If buying one of those books for your child, pick one that is more suited to THEIR interests and taste, as it will make it easier for them to get into the role-playing aspect of the story if it’s something they have an extreme fascination for. It will help with making it enjoyable for them in regards to re-readability