Friday, January 28, 2011

A Mystery Within A Mystery

I am beyond stoked. There was a surprise package waiting for me at the postbox yesterday, from my good friend, Half Pint. Inside the bubble-wrapped envelope I could see (and feel) something chunky. Was it a VHS? Two VHS's? What ever could it be! Half Pint is notorious for being quirky, creative, thoughtful; and for utilizing random resources.

Okay, back to the surprise package. I rip off the gold and white paper, to reveal a box-set of none other than Choose Your Own Adventure stories! Talk about wet eyes. What a blast of childhood. I'm still in shock.

Telling bedtime stories to his children, essayist and poet Edward Packard, formed the concept for a book where children could navigate their own way through a story, with around 40 possible endings to choose from. Packard's, Sugarcane Island, written in 1969, would become the first official game-book of its genre, when it was published in 1976 by Vermont Crossroads Press (according to limited online sources) under 'The Adventures Of You Series'. 

This is where the history gets interesting. According to my lovely six-book-box-set, the 'Choose Your Own Adventure' series began with Packard's The Cave Of Time, under the commission of Bantam Books Inc.; with copyright attributed to both author and Bantam. But, Montgomery Associates Inc. are credited with the trademark for The Adventures Of You Series, written above the copyright. Which is even more interesting given that 'R.A. Montgomery' would become Packard's author side-kick, adding 60 titles apiece to 'CYOA', with an additional 30 other authors contributing to the series.

As my daughter would say, "We have a mystery to solve!" Did Vermont Crossroads Press actually exist? Did Montgomery own them? Did he buy 'TAOYS' from them? Will I ever sleep again?

The box-set has been fully illustrated by Paul Granger, and includes:

  1. The Cave Of Time, Edward Packard (note: concept, title, and editorial assistance provided by Andrea Packard)
  2. Journey Under the Sea, R.A. Montgomery
  3. By Balloon To The Sahara, D. Terman
  4. Space And Beyond, R.A. Montgomery
  5. The Mystery Of Chimney Rock, Edward Packard
  6. Your Code Name Is Jonah, Edward Packard
I promise not to peek this time!


  1. Oh my, the memories I have just had attack my brain.....walking to the library after school and burying myself within these books for hours. The rack of them was immense. What a lovely gift to have received.


  2. The little tinker must have read that post... said he'd had these a long time, and that maybe Roz and I could enjoy them now. Too amazing.

  3. I love those little books, Carrie. I have a couple old ones. From the 60's, y'know. Really old.

    2 things;

    1. you are hilarious.

    2. I love your blog.

    The end.

  4. Londy!!! How cooleriffic to see you here. You are such a luv. *rubbing hands together in eager anticipation of learning more about your ancient books*


  6. Hi milowent from Albania (if you ever see this) - that link was just what I needed to bring me back to earth. Just found a fascinating article. Which gives me an idea...