Review by: Jessica Lahey, Crossroads Academy, Lyme, NHPublished in Prima - online magazine - February 1, 2010
Choose Your Own Adventure
"If you choose to indulge your anger and beat Melanthius for his insult, turn to
"If you choose to check your anger and swallow your pride, turn to page 53." The Journey of Odysseus
"If you choose to listen to Athena and spare Agamemnon, turn to page 38."
"If you choose to ignore Athena and kill Agamemnon, turn to page 29." The Wrath of Achilles
Two recently released book titles from Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, The Journey of Odysseus and The Wrath of Achilles, capitalize on the second-person, reader controlled narrative style popularized in the 1980s by R. A. Montgomery in his Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) series.
Readers are invited to choose outcomes at crucial moments in the narrative, thereby controlling the direction of the story.
Reviewer Jessica Lahey, a teacher at Crossroads Academy in Lyme, NH, adored the Montgomery books when she was young, so she was eager to share these titles with her students to assess how this new iteration of the CYOA genre would fare among a new generation of middle school students.
The author, Ed DeHoratius, a high school Latin and Classics teacher in Wayland, MA, found inspiration for The Journey of Odysseus and The Wrath of Achilles from the original CYOA series and a CYOA-inspired student project piloted at his institution, Wayland High School.
DeHoratius and his students so enjoyed the project that he embarked upon what he hopes to be a continuing series called "Follow Your Fates," which will cull themes on the Odyssey, the Iliad, the Aeneid, and other tales from Greek and Roman mythology and adapt them for the CYOA template.
Lahey did find that in order to offer narrative choices to the reader, DeHoratius strayed from the narrative of the primary texts. Lahey, admittedly, was worried. "It seemed heretical to deviate from the plot of these classic stories, but I found that these deviations make for great teaching moments, and DeHoratius' fictional options adhere to the spirit of the original tales," Lahey stated.
From the moment Lahey removed the books from their shipping envelope, her
eager students clamored to read them.
Crossroads Academy is a core knowledge curriculum school, and as such,
classical mythology plays a prominent role in Lahey's curriculum.
Story continues on page 22
CAPTION: Book reviewer, Jessica Lahey (above), enjoyed reading Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book titles as a child.
CAPTION: Edward DeHoratius, author of The Wrath of Achilles, hopes to continue publishing Choose Your Own Adventures that explore other classical literature and Greek mythology.
PRIMA Page 27
DeHoratius' books are given an enthusiastic thumbs-up by Lahey's students; heartily recommended for readers ages 8-12
Lahey's students learn about mythology and classical civilizations from kindergarten through eighth grade.
They read The Odyssey in fifth grade, The Iliad and The Aeneid in sixth, and revisit these stories through their study of Latin and classical history, so these tales are familiar and much-loved territory.
"These books provided a chance for the students to travel well-worn paths in an unfamiliar and exciting new format, and as a whole, they gave DeHoratius' books an enthusiastic thumbs-up," Lahey chimed.
When Lahey queried students for feedback on the books, she expected them to balk at the fictional options offered up at each narrative intersection ("Mrs. Lahey! Achilles can't stay home from Troy!" "Mrs. Lahey! Odysseus can't just live with Circe, he has to go home to Penelope!"), but they believed DeHoratius' well-crafted fictional outcomes and eagerly read the stories over and over, exploring even the most implausible outcomes.
"Odysseus, Achilles and their heroic brethren faced personal crossroads, moments where they had to choose their destiny, and those choices were inevitably based on the cultural and personal circumstances of the classical world," Lahey noted.
Similarly, Lahey commented that readers must rely on their own cultural and personal assumptions in order to navigate the choices presented by the books.
In doing so, students are invited to walk a proverbial mile in the sandals of Odysseus and Achilles, an invitation that Lahey's middle school students found hard to resist.
Lahey noted that the two classically inspired books are recommended for ages 8 and up, but two of her students advised that they thought the books might be most appropriate for readers 8-12.
Lahey found the most telling example of the two books' addictive pull in her own experience with her son.
"In the end, my most enthusiastic reader was a fifth grader. My own fifth grader, actually," Lahey admitted.
Lahey relayed that he had been begging to read the books, so finally she voluntarily handed them over to him one night after dinner.
"At ten, my husband caught him reading under the covers by the light of a camping headlamp," Lahey continued.
When Lahey later asked him at breakfast the next morning how he liked the books, he lifted his droopy, exhausted eyes to meet hers, and said that they were "addictive."
High praise, indeed.
Both titles can be purchased directly from the Bolchazy-Carducci website: http:// www.bolchazy.com.
Information provided by Jessica Lahey, Crossroads Academy, Lyme, NH.
Contact Ms. Lahey at email@example.com
CAPTION: Odysseus, Achilles and their heroic brethren faced personal crossroads, moments where they had to choose their destiny, and those choices were inevitably based on the cultural and personal circumstances of the classical world.
CALLOUT: These books provided a chance for the students to travel well-worn paths in an unfamiliar and exciting new format, and as a whole, they gave DeHoratius' books an enthusiastic thumbs-up.
Review by: Emily Considine, The Nueva School in Hillsborough - September 23, 2009
"The Wrath of Achilles" was a very fun and adventurous book that gave me a lot of information about Achilles and the Trojan war. It also allowed me to compare what I would choose to do with Achilles' choices that led him to glory.
I learned so much more about the Iliad and Achilles than I learned in a whole year of studying Greece in fourth grade.
It also made me think about why Achilles' choices were successful, as opposed to choices that I thought were the right thing to do. It also gave me more information on the daily life of people in ancient Greece.
Overall, I think this is a superb book to use in school.
Emily Considine is a Half Moon Bay resident and a fifth-grader at The Nueva School in Hillsborough. She reviewed "The Wrath of Achilles" by Ed DeHoratius.
- Emily Considine
Half Moon Bay Review, September 23, 2009
Review by: Sharon Kazmierski, The Classical Outlook - September 1, 2009
FOLLOW YOUR FATES, IF YOU DARE
Those of us who grew up in the late seventies and early eighties undoubtedly have fond memories of the popular Choose Your Own Adventure books, an interactive fiction series in which the reader becomes part of the storyline by taking on the role of the protagonist and making choices about the main character's actions that affect the outcome of the narrative. These books simulate a role-playing game experience in a structured, storybook format, and they lend themselves well co themes involving heroes on a quest. As the story progresses, the reader is asked to make multiple decisions that lead to number of different endings. There is usually one highly successful outcome, as well as a number of pretty good. okay, and not so good. even catastrophic, endings available. depending upon the choices made by the reader.
These books are often very appealing to reluctant readers because the plots are high interest and invite them to participate actively in the story-telling process. Students can read the books over and over, yet the plot may unfold differently each time as they select different responses to each situation. Interactive fiction also works well in a group, as students can either take turns deciding what the protagonist will do next or flip a coin when a consensus can't be reached or if an element of randomness is desired.
Ed DeHoratius, a Massachusetts-based Latin and Classics teacher, first saw the potential for adapting this format to the Greek and Roman epics when he was teaching a high school course on medieval literature [0 a group of seniors in 2003. One of his students wrote her final project on the Black Plague in this "gamebook" format, which was very well received by her classmates (despite the fact that everyone died a horrific death). Having been inspired by this highly creative student, Ed decided a few years later to review the Iliad, which he had read many times, by mapping out the Story into an interactive format. which he eventually shared with his students. This experience was so successful, that he decided to pursue the genre further and the result is Follow Your Fates, a trilogy of interactive stories based upon the Iliad, Odyssey, and the Aeneid.
The Follow Your Fates series is written in accessible English prose, suitable for children from ages eight on up. The series currently includes three titles, The Wrath of Achilles (ISBN 978-0865167087), The Journey of Odysseus (ISBN 978-0865167100), and the forthcoming Exile of Aeneas (working tide, no ISBN available yet). In each book, there are multiple choices leading to multiple endings, depending on the choices made by the reader. Each volume faithfully maintains the plot of the original for the "winning" ending, while the "less successful" and even "disastrous" endings will help students come to a better understanding of the values of the ancient world of the Greeks and Romans. By reading these books and reflecting upon the consequences of each decision, students will be able to learn more about the motivations that led each hero to make the choices he did. These retellings will have a unique appeal to Web 2.0 readers: Follow Your Fates invites adolescent readers become part of the action, rather than mere observers on the sideline. And while books shouldn't be judged merely on the basis of their covers. many young people definitely do select reading material based on cool artwork. All three books in the trilogy have a spectacular and visually stunning comic book-style cover designed by the award-winning Brian DeLandro Hardison as well as five dramatic black and white line art illustrations in the text. (Brian won the 2008 Comics Contest sponsored by the American Philological Association. See more of his work at http://mytholngy. bolchazy.com and at his own portfolio site http://www.altered-ego.com.) Middle schoolers and their teachers will also appreciate the helpful glossary appended in each volume to help them keep all the unfamiliar and strange-sounding names straight.
To find out more about the Follow Your Fate series, visit its official website at http://bolchazy.comlfollowyourfotesl. There you will find a promotional video and colorful digital wallpapers featuring the covers of the books, as well as a link [Q a YouTube interview with Ed DeHoratius. You may also request more information by contacting Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers Inc., 1570 Baskin Road, Mundelein, Illinois 60060, Tel. (800) 392-6453, Fax (847) 526--2867, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Hopefully, Ed will continue writing and adding more books to this series as there are certainly an endless number of plots for him to adapt from mythology and ancient literature! Perhaps this series will even inspire some interactive fiction written in Latin?
The Clearing House
The Classical Outlook, Fall 2009 Vol. 87, No 1