My friends Terry and Charlene both alerted me on Twitter about a New Yorker magazine article that explored the history of the Choose-Your-Own Adventure books that are at the heart of a unit of writing I teach that I call Interactive Fiction.
I appreciated the exploration and origin in the article, and how it was a father who was telling stories to his daughters, and then asked his daughters to give ideas for how a story might proceed, that led to the creation of the books that were very successful when they launched and still sell quite a few copies to this day, even though video games have mostly taken over its terrain.
It’s interesting that the article in New Yorker tried to emulate the use of choices and paths, but since the magazine itself is paper (which is where I read it), it seems a bit odd to have choices, and then when I went to the online version, even there, the New Yorker did not make links to the paths through the article (which I think could have been easily done and given a content texturing to the piece).
It’s been some time since I’ve picked up a new picture book (alas, my boys are older) but I saw The Boy Who Loved Maps (written by Kari Allen and illustrated by G. Brian Karas) and could not resist. Like the protagonist here, a young mapmaker, I love maps in all the ways they spark imagination and wondering.
In this book, the Mapmaker is visited by a girl, who becomes his new friend, and she asks him to draw a map of a special place, and as the two dance around what the place is that she wants to see charted out — she describes her place in ways that he can’t get down on a map — they become closer as friends, and end up where their mapping has taken them: home.
And both end up making the map together.
It’s a lovely story, infused with the magic and dreaming of maps, and Allen, at the end, has provided lots of resources for young mapmakers to make their own maps, with ideas and definitions, and after noting the inspiration for the book came from her own son’s mapmaking adventures — “…getting lost in all the little details” — she asks the reader: Do you want to be a mapmaker, too?