Friday, October 21, 2011

Call of the Wild: A Choose Your Path Book AND GIVEAWAY!

Kellee and I are so excited to be part of the blog tour for Jack London's Call of the Wild adapted by Ryan Jacobson into a Can Your Survive? Choose Your Path book! Today at Teach Mentor Texts we have an interview with the author, our review, and then a giveaway of the book!

We welcome Ryan to Teach Mentor Texts! We were curious about what it's like to actually a write a Choose Your Path book and we got our answers!

TMT: I loved R.A. Montgomery’s Choose Your Own Adventure series when I was younger. I’m so excited to see more of these kinds of books. As a writer, what helps you recognize a story that you believe you can adapt into a Choose Your Path book?

RJ: It’s funny you should ask. I’m reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and feeling like it probably won’t work as a Choose Your Path book. You can perhaps call it pacing, but what I look for are moments in which the main character makes a decision that has a lasting impact on the story—points where you can stop and ask yourself, “What if?” Every story has at least a few; the ones that work as Choose Your Path adaptations have them often and at fairly regular intervals.

Of course, there are plenty of other considerations. With Frankenstein, the ending is not exactly happy. Therefore, the “correct” decisions are actually the wrong decisions—which isn’t great for this format. And with Sherlock Holmes (due out in a few weeks), I almost made the mistake of casting the readers as Dr. Watson. He is more of an observer and recorder, while the readers’ character should be a decision-maker.

TMT: Is it easier to write your own Choose Your Path book and to write the different endings, or easier to adapt a book or story that has already been written into a Choose Your Path book?

RJ: Adapting an already-written story is easier. And harder. It’s actually difficult to compare because each method requires a different way of thinking. Writing my own story is all about creating. I put together my own outline; I control the story’s pace; I make sure important choices happen every few pages. In contrast, adapting a story is more about problem-solving. I have someone else’s story, and I need to bend, stretch and squish it into the Choose Your Path format. The really hard part is keeping the original storyline intact while shrinking it to a manageable length. After that, there’s a lot of creative editing and rearranging to ensure that a “choice” occurs every few pages. I also have to adapt my writing style so that my scenes read like those of the original author. Yes, there is definitely a “puzzle” feel to the whole process—and I love it!

TMT: How do you keep all the twists and endings straight? Do you have to map it out somehow? (I’m envisioning a wall full of sticky notes with arrows pointing here and there!)

RJ: Ha! You’re exactly right, sort of. That’s how it looked when I did my first Choose Your Path book, Lost in the Wild. But I’ve gotten older and wiser. Now, I keep things straight by keeping my files organized. Every time there’s a jump in the book, that’s a different Word document for me. The prologue file is named 00_prologue, and the choices that follow are 01A_choice and 01B_choice. In my files, A is always the right choice while B (and C and D) is the wrong choice. 01A will eventually lead to a new choice, so the next documents will be 02A_choice and 02B_choice. And so on. I have no idea if this makes sense to you, but trust me: it works.
And as for the wall full of sticky notes and arrows? That’s the editor’s desk.
TMT: It does make sense to me...but it doesn't seem easy!  It sounds like you have to be very organized! What is your ideal time and/or place for writing?

How about a beach on Kauai at sunset? Of course, that doesn’t happen too often. As strange as it sounds, I love lying on my bedroom floor, typing on my keyboard while a fan blows against me. With two young boys and a day job, I’m not fussy about “when.” I write any chance I get.

TMT: A beach on Kauai sounds amazing! (If only teleportation was available and free...) And finally, we love to end an interview at Teach Mentor Texts by asking how you would finish this statement: “Reading is..."

RJ: …learning. It’s impossible to read without learning, which is why so many of the smart, successful people I know are readers.

Thank you so much to Ryan for answering our questions! We love getting a glimpse into a writer's process and life as a writer! Next, we have our review of Ryan's adaptation of Jack London's Call of the Wild: A Choose Your Path Book! After the review you will find the form to fill out for the giveaway! 

Title: Jack London’s Call of the Wild: A Choose Your Path Book
Author: Written originally by Jack London, Adapted by Ryan Jacobson    
Publisher: Lake 7 Creative
Publication Date: October 2011 
Genre/Format: Adventure/Survival – Choose Your Path Book/Novel 
Summary: Jacobson has taken Jack London’s Call of the Wild and adapted it into a Choose Your Path book. You are a dog trying to survive in the Alaskan wilderness –will the choices you make help you survive…or not? 
What I Think: The only Jack London work I have read is the short story To Build a Fire. The writing style of this book definitely reminded me of that story. Making Call of the Wild seems to me like it would encourage students to read this book because it makes it more accessible. When I read To Build a Fire, it was definitely a story that seems to go on and on and on and it seems like Call of the Wild has a similar narrative style. For students who might not stick with a book written in this style, I really think this book would be a great way to introduce them to Jack London’s writing or even to teach students about the genre of adventure/survival.

While I was reading this book, I was thinking about how intense some of the situations are for the dogs.  Some of the situations the dogs deal with are raw and harsh. There are a few scenarios where the decision you make leads to your death. I kept thinking about the Iditarod race and how severe conditions can be for the dogs and how much care and attention is paid to them. Pairing this book with informational text about the Iditarod would really add to a student’s understanding of dog sledding. I was struck by how true to life this story was and how getting into a fight with a pack of dogs or making a wrong move with the right human would lead to a dog’s death. This book makes the harshness of the sport and life in the wild come to life.

There is definitely a lot to learn about dog sledding and this is a great book to pair with non-fiction text so kids can learn about dog sledding and then to ask them to write persuasive essays concerning the humaneness of the Iditarod race or other dog sled races.  This is a perfect topic to use when teaching ethos, pathos, and logos in persuasive writing because there are many different types of arguments that students can make to support or oppose dog sledding. 

One very unique quality of this book is that it is written in second person. It is rare to find a book written in second person. Sometimes when I teach the different points of view a writer can take on students will ask about second person. When I was a student, I was totally the one who was curious about what second person was all about. (Why do first and third get all the attention???) This book is a great example of a text written in second person.
Read Together:  5 – 12
Read Alone: 6 - 12 
Read With: "To Build a Fire" By Jack London, Runt By Marion Dane Bauer, Nonfiction text about dog sledding and the Iditarod
Snatch of Text: "This is the ultimate test of your skill; you will not pass it up. You leap forward and bark, announcing your presence. Back and forth the bull tosses his great antlers, branching to 14 points and seven feet part. His small eyes burn with a bitter light, and he roars with a fury at sight of you.
     You cut the bull out from the herd. You bark and dance in front of the bull. You remain just out of reach of the great antlers and terrible hoofs, which could stamp your life out with a single blow. Unable to turn his back on you, the bull is driven into moments of rage. At such moments he charges, and you retreat, luring him on.
     As twilight falls, the old bull stands with lowered head, watching his herd as they shamble away through the fading light. He cannot follow, for you are a merciless fanged terror that will not let him go. More than half a ton he weighs; he has lived a long, strong life, full of fight and struggle. Yet at the end, he faces death at the teeth of a creature whose head does not reach beyond his knees." (page number uncertain because it was taken from the ARC.)
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Asking Questions
Writing Strategies to Practice: Persuasive
Writing Prompts: Write a persuasive essay about whether you support or oppose dog sled races such as the Iditarod.
Topics Covered: Family, Loyalty, Survival, Making Choices, Taking Risks
Translated to Spanish: No

The giveaway is now closed.

Thank you to Ryan and Adventure Publications for providing a copy of the book for review and giveaway! We are happy to be part of this blog tour!

If you want to check out the review at the previous stop on this book tour, visit Book Dads.
The blog tour continues! Check Danielle's blog, There's a Book, for her review on Monday, October 24th! 


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