Everyone who knows me knows that I’m a mythical nut, as in I dig mythology, seen Clash of the Titans (about 100 times), read Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson’s books, and plan to go to Greece one day to see all of the ancient ruins. So it will come as no surprise that I have two new books based on mythic heroes: Jason and Odysseus, and their famous quests. They are also in the choose-your-path format. Readers get to imagine that they are on an epic adventure battling fearsome monsters.
Jason, the Argonauts, and the Golden Fleece—You are the mighty Greek hero Jason. Along with your crew of Argonauts, you are setting sail in search of the Golden Fleece. But your journey will not be easy. Sea monsters, powerful witches, and deadly beasts stand in your way. Can you survive and bring the Golden Fleece back to your kingdom?
The Epic Adventures of Odysseus—You are the mighty Greek hero Odysseus. The Trojan War has made you a hero. But now you must return home to your island of Ithaca. The journey back will not be easy. Deadly sea monsters, cunning witches, and a giant Cyclops stand in your way. Do you have what it takes to survive and make it back home?
Most everyone likes a scary ghost story. Now you can experience one in a choose-your-path book.
With its 1,000-year history, the Tower of London is considered to be one of the most haunted places in the world. Queen Anne Boylen was beheaded on the Tower Green, a lawn within the fortress’s walls. Hundreds of years later, visitors claim to have seen her ghostly funeral procession marching toward the Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula. Then there are rumors of a ghostly bear wandering the grounds. It is believed to have been part of the Royal Menagerie, a collection of exotic animals that kings and queens kept at the Tower.
And those are just a few of the ghosts that you will encounter in my latest release, Tower of London: A Chilling Interactive Adventure.
Taking a trip to Yellowstone National Park? Well, here’s a must read. Not because a supervolcano is ever likely to happen there again, but because it’s my newest title to hit the bookshelves.
Summary: A supervolcano has erupted! Its eruption is thousands of times larger than a normal volcano. Huge amounts of lava and ash threaten all life in the area. You’re a visitor to the park when the eruption occurs. Will you stay to monitor the volcano, or evacuate to safety? When YOU CHOOSE what to do next, the choices you make could mean the difference between life and death. Can you survive a supervolcano?
I was recently sent proofs of my fractured fairy tale, choose your path adaptation of Jack and the Beanstalk. Now I’ve been a fan of this tale since way back before I wrote a graphic novel about Jack’s adventures. It was a childhood favorite of mine growing up. So it’s a story I know and love.
My first retelling stuck pretty close to Joseph Jacobs’ version, but being a “fractured” tale, I twisted things around quite a bit in my new take on this classic. It includes three main paths, and each takes a different character’s POV. One story is told from the giant’s perspective, another from Jack’s (or Jacks, plural, as Jack teams up with some famous Jack from children’s literature), and lastly the mother’s.
It was immensely fun re-envisioning a favorite story from you youth. And in doing so, this project also allowed me to exercise my humor writing a bit, as you probably can tell from this illustration.
While researching for this book, Building the Golden Gate Bridge, I learned a valuable lesson: If something is falling from above, don’t look up! If I hadn’t, I probably would have suffered a broken nose when a friend dropped a hammer while we were installing some cabinets. Instead, I kept my head down and was only dealt a glancing blow, which left me with a black eye. Bad, but not as bad as it could have been. And that hammer fell only a few feet, not the hundreds of feet that items like coffee cups and rivets feel during construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Summary: People living in San Francisco during the 1920s and 1930s are fascinated by the project to build the Golden Gate Bridge—the world’s longest suspension bridge yet. Will you: Be a designer of the bridge, working to solve the many challenges created by such an enormous project? Or work as a crewmember, accepting the dangers of laboring hundreds of feet in the air above the cold, swirling currents of San Francisco Bay? Experience situations taken from real life.
Fun to see my Treasure Island adaptation up on LitPick, a site where kids (my readers!) are the reviewers. Check it out Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.
“Are you ready for an adventure? Campfire Crisis takes you deep into the woods where you’ll have to make smart decisions too save the day!”
—Chris Everheart, author of Recon Academy and Hub’s Adventures
“Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island is not only a fun action packed adventure it is a treasure hunt for the story itself. Readers are challenged to make choices as to whether or not the story could end before it really gets started. Readers have the option to end the story as they see fit. Chapter one of this tale can be found on page 64. Your name is Jim Hawking and you help your mother run the Admiral Benbow inn. A strange sea fellow carrying a chest with him rents a room. After months of keeping to himself he asks you, for a few coin of course, to keep an eye out for a peg legged man. There might be a lot as stake. So, if you decide to help, go to page 47. If not, page 26. The reader decides which direction the adventure will go.
Author Blake Hoena has adapted one of his favorite childhood stories into a Choose Your Path book. These already exciting stories now offer a fun way for readers to enjoy them all over again or for the first time. Readers are encouraged to make a decision as to which way they want to read the story and follow the adventure. Parents and teachers will love this storytelling method and can use it as a tool to get those kids who wouldn’t normally pick up a book to actually have fun reading and enjoying the adventure.”
—Kristi’s Book Nook
So . . . my adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island is written, edited, laid out, and ready for the printer. Now I wait.
Since I will have copies in hand later this fall, I’ve launched a Kickstarter project to help me with marketing. I’ll be working with a publicist, having cases of books sent out for review and traveling for book signings; all of which costs a pretty penny. So, I’m hoping to get a little support from you, my readers. Anything you pledge to my project will earn you incentives, so it’s not like you’re giving money away, but more like you’re purchasing merchandise through me.
If anything, go to my project page and check out the video. If it provides a laugh, I hope you’ll considering pledging for the cause.
Tanks (big green booming ones),
What Jen Thinks: I have always thought there needed to be more choose-your-own-adventure books in the world. I remember reading the R.A. Montgomery books when I was younger and loving them. One thing that was very different about this chose-your-adventure type book compared to others that I have read, is that readers are given a choice at the end of every chapter. Your choice doesn’t mean that you will jump around in the book, the reader still reads through the chapters but is given a choice at the end of each. The author helps readers recognize when he or she has made a decision that would not be wise and then the reader is made aware of this and is able to instead make the opposite choice. Because this format is so unique compared to what I have read before, it made me stop and think about what I’m used to and why the author made the decisions he did about how to format this particular book. This would be a wonderful conversation to have with students about decisions an author makes and why or why not he or she might make those decisions. It would be interesting to hear how students respond to different types of choices they are given.
Similarly, choose-your-adventure books are unique because they are usually told form a 2nd person point of view. 2nd person seems to be altogether rare in writing and I think it is often overlooked when point of view is taught to students. I love that books like Campfire Crisis give students the opportunity to recognize what 2nd person point of view is and how it is different from 1st and 3rd person. (I totally remember wondering what 2nd person point of view meant because if you had 1st and 3rd, why wouldn’t you have 2nd?) I strongly believe in giving kids all the information and helping them discern for themselves why you may or may not use a point of view and why it may or may not be more common than others. Overall, I think students will learn a lot about camping and survival by reading this book but can also examine an author’s decisions and discuss how those decisions might apply in their own writing.
What Kellee Thinks: A different kind of choose your path book. In a choice chapter book, you are still the protagonist (2nd person alert!), but throughout the book you are given choices (one is right and one is wrong; rational is given) and you only continue when you choose the right one. This book definitely would be a great introduction to camping and takes the reader through some really realistic situations. Though a bit didactical, it definitely works in teaching safety- I even learned a few things.
In the classroom, this book would be great in a 2nd or 3rd grade classroom to talk about cause and effect. You could look at what would happen if you chose the wrong choice.
I cannot wait to see what other books come out in this series. I think it is a great opportunity to teach readers about many different things in a fun way.
—Teach Mentor Text