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Some of the first books I ever checked out from a library were Walt Disney Choose Your Own Adventures, and they still tend to be as fun and unpredictable as when I was in kindergarten. Jim Razzi, author of all twelve books in the series, injects you into a Disney film, allowing you to follow the main story or step away and explore on your own; both possibilities are gone into in decent depth in Mickey's Christmas Carol Adventure. One Christmas Eve in London, you and some friends are going door to door singing carols and distributing gifts to families in need. Your merrymaking is interrupted when you bump into Ebenezer Scrooge (McDuck), who castigates you for your carelessness. Scrooge has a reputation for being miserly and crabby, but after he enters his house you spot a gold watch in the snow. Could anyone but Scrooge afford so fancy a timepiece? You could knock on his door and ask if the watch is his, but you don't want to lose track of your friends. What will you decide?
Scrooge doesn't answer if you knock. The interior of his home is silent until you tiptoe upstairs and witness a frightening encounter: The ghost of Scrooge's former business partner, Marley, is warning him of dire consequences for his sins against humanity. You can leave the watch behind and run, which ends the story quickly and humorously, or join Scrooge on his legendary adventure. The ghost of Christmas past (Jiminy Cricket) leads you and Scrooge flying above the housetops to confront poor choices in Scrooge's past; the ghost of Christmas present (Willie the Giant) takes you both to see the effect of Scrooge's stinginess on the family of Bob Cratchit (Mickey Mouse), especially Tiny Tim (Morty Mouse); and the ghost of Christmas yet to come (Pete) shows Scrooge the tragic end certain to befall him if he doesn't repent. You can eject from Scrooge's narrative at any point and go your own way, with dubious results; sticking with him yields the best reward. It's encouraging to see that the meanest of men can alter their course.
Deciding to find the watch's owner later and catch up to your friends removes you from Scrooge's orbit for the rest of the story. You lose sight of your friends, but a warm bonfire on the street corner looks inviting, and the bakery beside it is stocked with holiday sweets. You might meet a poor match girl and have opportunity to do a good deed, but beware of lingering in public with the gold watch in your pocket. A law officer might get the wrong idea if he sees it. Take a different street in search of your friends and you'll come upon Scrooge's nephew Fred (Donald Duck), Bob Cratchit, and Tiny Tim. The Cratchits have a lean Christmas ahead of them, but perhaps you can do something to add to their cheer. Doing good feels nice, and that's what this book is about.
Mickey's Christmas Carol Adventure isn't a great gamebook, but it's good. There's a notable variety of story options for its length, and the right decisions aren't always obvious. Interacting with the Disney characters and Charles Dickens's literary classic is fun, and gives a good feeling if you arrive at a happy ending. I would gladly read this again at Christmastime to myself or others; Mickey's Christmas Carol Adventure has its share of holiday spirit to spread.
Ok, this is crazy. I am reviewing an obvious children's book... but I figure there are a few of you out there with children of your own! I got this and the Pinocchio Disney Choose Your Own Adventure book for my 3 year old son. This weekend we were reading Mickey's Christmas Carol Adventure, so I figured I'd give my review.
First off... these books are really well done. The books are a nice larger size for children to hold or to look at while you read. The larger font is helpful and illustrations are great. While I have my reservations about Disney characters, my son has an affinity towards Mickey Mouse.
I wasn't sure if my 3-year-old would get the 'choose your own adventure' aspect, but with a little rewording of the choices, my son really responded to 'what should the boy in the story do?' Long story short, my son enjoyed it and we read several adventures with him choosing what the character should do.
The problem I have are with the base story. It is quite a graphic topic to introduce youngsters to, and this book doesn't white wash it too much for a younger audience... There are references to ghosts... spirits... monsters... a few death references... empty graves. Some monster even throws Scrooge into a grave with his name on it and menacingly taunts him from above.
Much of this is more "nonsense fantasy" stuff I don't want my son to dwell on to be honest. I don't have a problem discussing issues in life, including the topic of mortal death... but this story was a bit too much for a very young audience when you step back and look at it. While a good moral and life lesson, the story really isn't easily adapted for small children.
While I wont be burning this book or casting it out from my residence, when I read it again to my son, I'll be sure to rephrase several of the more "nonsense fantasy" items I'd rather he not have nightmares about!
|Special Thanks:||Thanks to Ken G. for the cover scans and other details.|
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