The toughest thing for me when it comes to writing a review for my site is the starting sentence or graph. Hell, that’s tough for most writers. But (again) for me, I find it far easier to jump right into a blog post (when I bother to do one) than to start the first words of a review.
As I was pondering how I was going to start the review for this book I recently finished, the words came to me rather quickly. It’s going to start with, “When I was a kid, my favorite things to read — before King became part of my library — were…” And as I was finishing that thought in my head, I realized not only was I happy with where that’s going to go, but I had the idea for a new blog entry as well.
When I was kid, my favorite things to read — before King became part of my library — were Encyclopedia Brown, Choose Your Own Adventure, and anything Bigfoot, UFO, or Loch Ness. The latter three I’ll be discussing in said upcoming review, but the first two? Let’s talk about them now.
For those that didn’t have the luxury of growing up with Leroy “Encyclopedia” Brown, he was a kid that solved mysteries for $0.25 a day (plus expenses). I have to be honest here, I don’t remember any stories (c’mon! It’s been over 30 years, easy), but I do remember the solution for one because at the time it was so damn slick. I don’t recall what, exactly, Brown was investigating, I just remember it happened to do with a lady in white who was seen on the beach at night, BUT SHE LEFT NO TRACKS! Was she a ghost? Had someone murdered her, forever making her wander the last place she took a breath? It certainly was a mystery…and Encyclopedia Brown was on the case! Eventually, it turned out that whoever was walking on the beach in that white dress (seriously, I can’t remember) had put a piece of cardboard in the train (maybe it was a wedding dress) and it was weighted just enough that it was smoothing out the sand behind her, thus leaving no footprints. How genius is that? And that kid Brown, well he’s a smart cookie. As I was looking for pictures of covers, it appears that the series is still in print, so I’m pleased that a younger generation will get the same glee as me from reading these.
When I wasn’t reading Encyclopedia Brown solving mysteries, I was tearing into Choose Your Own Adventure books. If you didn’t experience CYOA as a kid, well, I’m sorry your childhood sucked.
If you don’t know what a CYOA book is, it’s exactly what it sounds like…you choose your own adventure. Basically, you read a page or two, and then you make a choice. If you choose one way, go to page five. If you choose another, go to page nine. And you kept making choices until you ran out of them. Then you started all over. And these books were so popular, which was fantastic for us fans because there were TONS of them. Below are just a few of the titles, and you can see a nice sized picture of even more here.
In addition to having a ton to choose from, the series’ popularity of course spawned knockoffs. The best of which were the Dungeons and Dragons’ Endless Quest books. It was like two of my favorite things got smashed together into something wonderful.
I’m not the type to pine over the things I had in childhood, wishing I still had them. But, man, outside of all of my Star Wars toys (if only to sell), I would love to have all of these sitting on my bookshelf now.
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