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Item - Sadness Saves the Day!

Series: Disney/Pixar Inside Out: You Decide the Ending! — no. 3
Author: West, Tracey
Date: January 12, 2016
ISBN: 0606384855 / 9780606384858 (hardback)
KenJenningsJeopardy74's Thoughts: Tracey West does good work with licensed properties, and Pixar's 2015 movie Inside Out is full of gamebook potential. A sequel to that movie, Sadness Saves the Day! returns us to the incredible world inside fifth-grader Riley Andersen, where her personified emotions labor continuously to keep Riley on an even keel during the course of her daily life. The movie's world-building was spectacularly imaginative, so Tracey West only had to feed off that to get an exciting story that borrows from readers' warm memories of the motion picture. Sadness, Joy, Anger, Disgust, and Fear remember what happened not long ago when Sadness and Joy got lost in the Mind World at a time when Riley dearly needed their emotional equilibrium. They'd rather not go through that again, but it appears inevitable when Sadness is mistaken for a Mind Worker and whisked back to the Mind World on the Train of Thought. Another adventure is brewing.

At this point the reader chooses between following Sadness or staying with the other four Emotions at Headquarters, a decision that affects our perspective for the rest of the story. If you accompany Sadness, you'll find there are plenty of mini crises in the Mind World that could use her insight: a Forgetter who's new on the job and has no idea what to do, the return of monstrous Jangles the clown from the dark pit of Riley's subconscious, and aspiring actors and writers in Dream Productions who need a creative boost. Sadness tends to believe she's not important to those around her, but if you make the right decisions in this story, she'll learn that her counsel is valuable to those it helps, and so is she. Sadness might return to Headquarters happier than when she left, just in time to help out in the latest drama of Riley's life.

If you let Sadness depart to the Mind World on her own and you remain at Headquarters, you'll be kept just as busy. There's a new girl at school named Madison who looks nervous about mingling with kids she doesn't know. After Riley's rocky transition from Minnesota to San Francisco in Inside Out, she knows how that feels. She'd like to be Madison's friend, but closeness rarely happens instantly. Joy, Anger, Disgust, and Fear do their best, but it's hard for them to gauge Madison's reactions without Sadness there, and none of them have noticed she's missing. Depending on which Emotion you install at the controls, Riley takes an enthusiastic or blasé approach to getting to know Madison, and each has its merits. Madison is dying to make a friend, but the pain of moving away from her old home and friends is significant, and you won't want to have Riley rush things. There's also some resentment from Riley's friends Sam and Alexis if Riley goes too far out of her way to include Madison. They don't want to be ignored so the new girl can feel special. Once the Emotions realize Sadness is gone, one of them will have to ride the Train of Thought to find her at Mind Works, and the story goes very differently depending on whom you send. Which Emotion can Riley afford to do without while he or she conducts a search? Sadness must be brought back if Riley is to tap into her own memories of being the new girl so she can truly open up to Madison. Sharing those feelings could be the foundation of a long-lasting friendship, and is the surest path to a happy ending in this book.

You'll have more adventures at Headquarters than you will following Sadness to Mind Works. The most interesting choices are when you have to put one Emotion at Riley's controls, but a few of them claim they know what to do. Can Anger handle his temper so he doesn't scare off Madison, Sam, or Alexis? You don't want Riley to get in trouble because she had an angry outburst. Will Fear be overly cautious and lose Madison to other, cooler friends before Riley even gets to know her? Can Disgust pretend to be only mildly interested in Madison's friendship well enough to get the two girls conversing without too much pressure to hit it off? Joy is good to have around, but can she keep her energy under wraps and not come on too strong? Riley needs every one of her Emotions, and the better you blend their sensitivities, the happier she'll be by the end. That's a lesson we can all take from this book.

Because there are several abrupt endings that aren't so much endings as arbitrary stopping points, I don't think Sadness Saves the Day! quite reaches its potential. The premise, world, and characters were already in place for Tracey West, so I can't give her credit there, but she did craft an original story that will appeal to fans of Inside Out. I had fun spending time in Riley's world again, and I'm eager to read Forget This! and What Should Riley Do?, the other two books in this series.

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