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Item - Mona is Missing

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Series: Choose Your Own Adventure for Younger Readers — no. 21
Translated Into: Mona ha desaparecido (Spanish)
La Mona ha desaparegut (Catalan)
Author: Gilligan, Shannon
Illustrators: Reese, Ralph (cover)
Morrill, Leslie (interior)
Date: October, 1984
ISBN: 0553152831 / 9780553152838
Length: 51 pages
Number of Endings: 9
User Summary: You live in Egypt. When Mona, your pet camel, escapes, you must bring her back before your parents find out or they will sell her.
Demian's Thoughts:

This is one of the best books in this series. The story is considerably more original than usual, the writing and illustrations are both quite good, and there's a clear objective for the player to meet.

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KenJenningsJeopardy74's Thoughts:

Several factors separate Mona Is Missing from other gamebooks. Searching for a missing pet camel is not exactly a cookie-cutter concept, and neither is an action-adventure for young kids that is set in contemporary Egypt. Add the implicit danger of the story scenario, along with suspenseful writing, and you have the dry makings for one of the best books in the Bantam Skylark Choose You Own Adventure series. You awaken one morning in your farming village of Abu Diyab to find your camel Mona is gone. She has run off before, and caused significant chaos. Your parents warned that next time Mona got into mischief they would sell her. The day is young; maybe you can retrieve Mona before anyone finds out, but should you go by yourself to the grove of lemon trees Mona often visits, or ask your cousin Ali to help look for her?

Ali understands how important Mona is to you, and agrees to leave at once. He has a hunch she may not have left of her own volition: a nomad caravan with a reputation for camel theft recently swept through the village. They departed Abu Diyab this morning, but would it be wise for you and Ali to pursue? The desert sun is a merciless foe as you trudge along. Your water supply won't last; should you give up and go home, or continue for just one more sand dune? You might find yourself within a stone's throw of the nomads and Mona, but the day is far from won. Dangerous men guard the camels; one wrong move and you'll end up their slaves, but keeping a smart head will get Mona back. Depending on your decisions, you might pass a strange palace on the way home and discover a secret about Mona, but even if you don't steal your camel back from the nomads, she might meander her way back to you somehow. Maybe, though, you and Ali decided from the first that Mona is at the lemon groves, and was not kidnapped. Will you believe Um Tamara, the town gossip, when she claims she spotted Faruk the camel dealer with Mona? You have precious little time for dead ends; your instincts need to be on the money, or you may have spent your last day with Mona.

What if you follow your original intuition and run to the lemon groves without Ali? At the cluster of trees, you spot two sets of camel tracks to follow. If you trace the set leading toward the Nile, as soon as you draw near the river you sense trouble. The Nile floods its banks this time of year, and right now is about to spill over. Can you hurry out of harm's way, or should you wait on high ground until a rescue boat happens by? Your decision means the difference between reuniting with Mona, or her implied drowning. You could follow the tracks that go to the desert instead of the Nile, but the extreme environment quickly wears you down. Will you die in the middle of nowhere, or might Mona arrive in time and save you? Most story paths do ultimately lead to happy endings.

This is a hard book to judge because all the elements are present for one of the best entries in the series. Our emotional connection to Mona is beyond most anything in the fifty-two Bantam Skylarks, a strong foundation for a memorable read. But I can't say I love this book. The majority of places where internal continuity seems askew (e.g., Mona showing up in a totally different area than in other narrative branches) can be explained rationally if you're willing to give the benefit of the doubt, but a few endings don't allow that kind of logical reconciliation. One ending goes completely off the rails with a mystical explanation for Mona's absence. Regardless, the book is enjoyable even if it isn't objectively great; it's in the upper half of the series.

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Users Who Own This Item: Demian (first printing), Gartax, jharvey79, katzcollection, KenJenningsJeopardy74, knginatl (yellow, red, yellow permabound), Lullyph, newt3425, rolipo26, spragmatic, strawberry_brite, waktool (Original, 1st printing (yellow, $1.95))
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