Choose Your Own Adventure - Dragonlarks
June 20, 2022
1954232063 / 9781954232068
Like many book series, Choose Your Own Adventure often creates titles to sound more exciting than the story actually is. Exhibit A: The Ghost on the Mountain by Kyandreia Jones. You are visiting your grandmother Yolette on the island of Haiti this summer. One hot night you spot a phantom named Yvette in your bedroom, a woman with white dreadlocks and gray eyes. You and your pet iguana Crikey are spooked, until Grandma Yolette arrives and seems glad to see the ghost. The white-haired spirit transports you and Crikey to a gorgeous Haitian beach, in proximity to a girl your age named TiYoyo. TiYoyo is friendly and you'd like to explore the beach together, but Yvette says the mountains are "calling you." What should you do?
Running off to the mountains with Yvette leads you through a forest of whispering trees, and dirt that thumps in a steady, living rhythm under your feet. You may wind up taking a journey with the trees and handling a multicolor snail that turns your body bright colors. Or you might explore the origins of the rhythmic dirt, or ask Yvette why she has taken interest in you. Maybe you'll make it all the way to the mountains and discover the eternal heart of Haiti, land of your ancestors. There's no telling what you might find in this enchanted place.
If you dash off with TiYoyo on the beach, you'll run across dancing sand that shifts mischievously below your feet, or dive into the glittering waves off the beach. You and TiYoyo are elated...but something about her strikes you as familiar. Can you discern TiYoyo's hidden identity? Perhaps you have no desire to pry and simply want to enjoy your friend's company, and that's fine too. Whatever your priority this magical day, you're sure to finish it feeling satisfied.
There's nothing actively bad about The Ghost on the Mountain, but it is devoid of real purpose or adventure. The author obviously wants to introduce readers to Haiti as a wondrous land, but the narrative so lacks in concrete direction that this goal isn't achieved. No sense of accomplishment or enlightenment is earned here, so it feels like little more than a forgettable romp through a forest, up a mountainside, or into the sea. Still, the story is internally consistent, and Manuel Mal's illustrations are gorgeous. So much more could have been done with the concept, but this isn't an unpleasant read.