"In an instant, a huge crash sends you flying.
In the distance, you hear the sound of watertight doors slamming shut. One of the nearby watertight doors is still open. Water has begun rushing into your compartment. There's no time to waste. You have only a split second to decide what to do. . . .
You dive for the door. Two or three others make it through before the heavy metal door slams shut. You can hear your fellow stokers pounding on the other side. But it's too late to help them.
Soon you see an officer. He tells you what has happened--Titanic has struck ice.
In its You Choose Books, Capstone Press has put the "Choose Your Own. . ." format, wildly popular in fantasy and mystery potboilers almost two decades ago, to good use, illuminating some of the major events of history in a reader-friendly interactive design.
In Bob Temple's The Titanic: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose Books), for example, a brief story line aboard the doomed ship is introduced with the reader playing typical characters. At a crucial juncture in the story, the "character" is given two credible choices--in the above vignette, the boiler room stoker may choose to stay and help the injured workers ("Turn to page 96") OR to dive through the doors before they close and seal him hopelessly inside the bowels of the sinking ship ("Turn to page 80").
This title features three distinct strands: the reader may initially choose to hang out with the very rich, dining with John Jacob Astor, to travel with the immigrants on the lowest passenger deck in third class, or to experience the disaster as a member of the crew of the Titanic. Within these three "paths," you can stand beside Astor as he bravely refuses to board a lifeboat with his wife and children, vowing to "see you in New York" as he stays to go down with other gallant men who honored the "women and children first" rule. The reader can choose to be English-speaking immigrant passengers who beg a young officer to unlock the wire gates and allow them to try to board the last lifeboats on deck, or choose to be a non-English-speaking working girl who finds herself up late, singing and dancing with a young man named Tony, who, seeing the last lifeboat being lowered, grabs her hand and jumps with her into the lifeboat and thus into a long life as a Titanic survivor. Conversely, the reader can put himself or herself into the shoes of a crewman who survives when an officer orders him into a lifeboat to row its load of mothers and children clear of the rapidly tilting ship.
There's no fancy writing here, but the events themselves are so gripping and the choices so real that readers will be instantly drawn into the action. This format has special appeal for reluctant readers: the style is brisk, with a minimum of character development, and each of the individual episodes within the 35 choices and 15 endings takes only a few pages to reach its conclusion. It's hard to resist the temptation to go back and follow the alternative choices to see how the outcomes change, and the reader cannot help but grasp the role that individual choice and random luck played in the life or death of the Titanic's passengers. Middle readers who are accustomed to following live links in computer programs will relish the similar print options offered by this clever format.
Other major historic events in this series include The Attack on Pearl Harbor: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose Books), The Alamo: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose Books), The Underground Railroad: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose Books), The Battle of Bull Run: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose Books), and The Golden Age of Pirates: An Interactive History Adventure (You Choose Books), as well as many other significant events in American history. Each one comes complete with supportive back matter--a time line, suggestions for further study, bibliographies, internet sites (limited to age" - BooksforKidsBlog
December 7, 2008