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Choose Your Own Adventure - Dragonlarks
Choose Your Own Adventure for Younger Readers — no. 14
The Lake Monster Mystery (reissue)
Choose Your Own Adventure Skylark 3 Box Set (Collection)
À la recherche de Champie (French)
(pseudonym used by Hedin, Don)
(Original edition - cover)
Kramer, Anthony (Original edition - interior)
Newton, Keith (Dragonlarks reissue; Dragonlarks reissue, third printing)
November, 1983 (Original edition)
October 1, 2008 (Dragonlarks reissue)
0553152270 / 9780553152272
1933390603 / 9781933390604 (Dragonlarks reissue, Dragonlarks reissue, third printing)
50 pages (Original edition)
45 pages (Dragonlarks reissue, Dragonlarks reissue, third printing)
|Number of Endings:||
Thanks to Ken G. for the front and back cover scans.
|User Summary:||While vacationing in Vermont, you and your sister Mag decide to search for Champ, the monster said to live in Lake Champlain.|
This is the second book in a row to feature a plot detailed enough to be reminiscent of the regular Choose Your Own Adventure series aimed at older readers. This marks a shift in the flavor of the series, and the trend continues through the rest of the books.
This is the first of the Younger Readers books I've read. It's a bit shorter than half the length of a traditional CYOA book, and you can feel it. I also believe the text and spacing is larger, so things really fly by.
You decide to spend the summer looking for Champ, the legendary creature in Lake Champlain. Remarkably, on your first day out, you manage to find her. Yes, the book is pretty clear that Champ is female. The drawings even give her distinct eyelashes.
The entire book seems to take place over the course of a single day. There really aren't many paths where you don't find Champ. Notably, there's a path where you don't find Champ, and instead, you get rescued by a Goddess. Weird stuff.
I have a harder time evaluating this, since the aim toward younger readers makes this tricky to judge. Is this exciting for little kids? Is the reading level appropriate? Is the lack of negative endings a good thing?
Regardless, at least you wouldn't be spending too much time making your own evaluation if you decide to read it.
Mystery creatures lurking in large bodies of water factor into more than one Choose Your Own Adventure book; The Search for Champ isn't even the first time the idea was used in the Bantam Skylark series. It is summer in Vermont, and you and your older sister Mag are visiting your grandparents on Lake Champlain. You come every year, but this time you want to look for Champ, a creature the size of a small dinosaur that lives in the lake. No one has ever successfully snapped a photo of Champ, but the underwater recluse is said to be gentle, not a threat to humans. You and Mag are determined to get that first photo of Champ, but what strategy will you use in your search?
For an animal Champ's size to be seen so rarely, it must linger in the secluded parts of Lake Champlain. Grand Isle is a possibility, but if you choose to investigate there, your trip is interrupted by a lightning storm. On the island you spot an elaborate, broken-down mansion you never noticed. You need shelter from the rising storm, but the house is scary; do you want to risk going inside? You could return to your canoe and attempt to outrace the storm home, but there may not be time to avoid the pouring rain and angry waves. Who will save you from this storm on the open water? Seeking shelter in the mansion confirms the interior is as eerie as the outside, but at least it's deserted. You could stumble onto the solution to a theft from half a century ago, earning the thanks of the authorities. No storyline on Grand Isle ends with more than a brief glimpse of Champ, but you had a memorable little adventure.
Would you rather explore Shelburne Point than Grand Isle? Last summer a few picnickers there reported seeing Champ after they spilled shrimp salad into the water. You and Mag try to lure Champ to the surface using a cage full of shrimp, but you still have the coming storm to deal with. If you tarry too long before recognizing the storm's severity, you'll face danger as you paddle your canoe toward shore, but even if disaster strikes, you may have a special guardian looking out for you. You never see Champ for more than a fleeting moment, but what a story you'll have if you get close to the legendary sea serpent of Lake Champlain for even that long. Visiting your grandparents was never so exciting.
The Search for Champ isn't much of a search. You're easily distracted from your goal of photographing the elusive creature, and no branch of the story yields an in-depth encounter. Champ remains an enigma, a species that transcends the modern world and leads you to wonder what other secrets it might contain. Anthony Kramer's illustrations are impressive for the most part, in particular his panoramas of Grand Isle and Lake Champlain during the storm. A few simple illustrations of the mansion on Grand Isle greatly enhance the house's spookiness; the best two are pages ten and twelve. If not for Kramer's subpar skill at drawing human faces, I'd be tempted to call him one of the best illustrators in Choose Your Own Adventure history. The Search for Champ is short on content and meaning, but you'll have some fun if you let your imagination roam. You never know what you'll discover on Lake Champlain.
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Known EditionsOriginal edition
Dragonlarks reissue, third printing