Edward Packard

Edward Packard

Edward Packard (born 1931 in Huntington, New York) is a graduate of Princeton University and Columbia Law School. In addition to his work as a lawyer, essayist, and poet, he is one of the pioneering authors of the second-person fiction style made famous by the "Choose Your Own Adventure" series of children's books.

Packard wrote one of the first known books of this type, "Sugarcane Island", in 1969 and saw it first published in 1976. He explains in the foreword to the book that he developed what he originally called "the adventures of you" fiction format while trying to think up interesting bedtime stories for his three children (Andrea, Caroline and Wells), though the series in which it was first published was the short-lived (and since forgotten) "Which Way" line. In "Sugarcane Island", the shipwrecked reader travels around the titular island avoiding dangers at every turn. Many of the possible endings feature an unfortunate demise, although escape from the island is possible if the correct choices are made.

"The Adventures of You on Sugarcane Island" was the exact prototype for books in Bantam’s classic "Choose Your Own Adventure" series. In 1969, and 1970, the William Morris Agency submitted the book on Packard's behalf to several major publishers, all of whom rejected it. In 1976 Packard was able to get the book published by Vermont Crossroads Press. In its review of the book, "Publishers Weekly" called it "an original idea, well carried out."

In 1977-1978, Lippincott published Packard's next two books in the same format, "Deadwood City" and "The Third Planet from Altair". Their covers alerted readers to their unusual nature with the rubrics "Choose Your Own Adventure in the Wild West" and "Choose Your Own Adventure in Outer Space."

Seeing potential in Packard's idea of an "interactive book", Bantam Books launched a series called "Choose Your Own Adventure" in 1979. Packard wrote the first of the series, "The Cave of Time", a time-traveling story in which the reader explores a cavern that is a portal to different eras. Along with R. A. Montgomery, he wrote many of the books and contributed over 60 titles by the end of the series in 1998.

Packard kept the series fresh by changing genres with each title. In addition to the time travel story of the first book, he followed up with the next half-dozen stories based on suspense, spy fiction, space opera, western, mystery, science fiction, and fantasy. Packard himself even appears, in a case of self-insertion, in the "Choose Your Own Adventure" book "Hyperspace".

Packard was the only author to have a consistently-recurring character who appeared in many of his CYOA books. A scientist named Dr. Nera Vivaldi frequently appeared as a friend to the reader character. She seemed to be ageless as she appeared in stories set in many time frames, including those that took the reader into outer space, although in later books, she does appear to have aged at least into her fifties. In the aforementioned "Hyperspace", Dr. Vivaldi makes an appearance that actually breaches the fourth wall.

Packard also conceived of the idea and wrote the prototype books for three more interactive series: "Space Hawks" and "Escape", both published by Bantam Books, and "Earth Inspectors", published by McGraw Hill. He also wrote a non-fiction book about the size and scale of space and time, titled "Imagining the Universe" and published by Berkley in 1994, which was cited by "Scientific American" as one of the best science books for young readers of the year and by National Public Radio as one of the best science books of the year. His educational math book "Big Numbers", published by Millbrook in 2000, was cited by "Newsweek" as one of the best children's books of the year. The six books in the "Space Hawks" series, dealing with Earth's defense against space aliens, were published in mainland China in 2004 in anticipation of China's first manned space mission.

Choose Your Own Adventure books by Packard

External links

* [http://www.gamebooks.org/cgi-bin/search.cgi?Type=Author&Text=Edward+Packard&Header=Books+by+Edward+Packard Edward Packard Site]

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