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Pick a Story – Where will your adventure take you?

Do your primary school pupils love pirates? How about aliens? And jungle animals? Find them ALL in the pages of Pick a Story, the NEW laugh-out-loud interactive picture book series. 

It’s well-known that being empowered to make their own decisions motivates children. Pick a Story allows them to choose where their story takes them, with meaningful decisions to make on every page.

The opportunities for autonomy this provides helps children genuinely invest in the book and their reading experience.

Each book in this sparkling series focuses on three diverse themes that children (and teachers!) will love, especially when brought to life with Adam Walker-Parker’s hilarious, vibrant illustrations. 

In Book 1, Pick a Story: A Pirate Alien Jungle Adventure, Vincent’s dog, Trouble, has DISAPPEARED. Has Trouble been stolen by aliens? Or pilfered by pirates? Is she exploring the jungle? It’s up to YOUR CLASS to decide.

Book 2, Pick a Story: A Dinosaur + Unicorn + Robot Adventure, launches January 2023. Start collecting the series now to see all of the wonderful places Pick a Story can take your class. 

Sarah Coyle is the brilliant author behind this series, as well as The Biggest Story and Once You’re Asleep. She has written a letter for you, her wonderful readers, explaining how Pick a Story came to be… 

Dearest Reader,  

Like most kids in the late eighties, I adored Knightmare, a medieval fantasy TV adventure show where pre-teens navigated their ‘Dungeoneer’ teammate through a series of challenges.

While the panicky pre-teens screamed instructions and the Dungeoneer (rendered sightless by the Helmet of Justice) tried not to drop into a bottomless pit, so desperate was I to be part of the decision-making process that I couldn’t help but squawk my own opinions at the screen:  

Choose the potion, Jonathan, not the dagger! Now, sidestep left. Left. Left, Jonathan. Little steps. Left, again. Woah! Stop! Stop, Jonathan, STOP! . . . .  

Ah, he fell. Too bad.  

Victory on Knightmare was hard won. A crucial element.  

My favourite bits were where the choices smashed into something approaching narrative: where Jonathan happened upon an actor dressed as a merchant or digitally imposed onto a tree.

I wanted to stay in that magical world; to find out more about that merchant/tree.

I longed not just to be in the show, but to live the show; to open more doors, do more deadly challenges, meet more fantastical characters, for real, for forever – or at least until dinnertime.  

Naturally then, I snaffled up the Choose Your Own Adventure books I got hold of, dissatisfied until I had completed every possible route.

When Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones presented to the world their interactive TV equivalent, Bandersnatch, I did the same, digesting each and every timeline in order to best experience the whole.

So much could be achieved by such ambitious levels of interactive choice. Infinite decisions! Infinite universes! Even more infinite-r possibilities!

Multiple narratives squashed into a delicious story soup with no added real-world consequences. Oh, the potential!  

But could it be done in a 32-page picture book?  

YES! I hurled my wretched laptop at the bluescreen candelabra in my head. IT SURELY CAN!  

Very soon, I had a garage wall of blackboard paint, peppered with Post-its; chalk lines swirled, linking possible routes and choices, choices, choices. And so Pick a Story began.  

If you want to get a young person on your side, give them a choice to make – a real choice, not a trick ‘make the right choice here, kid’ choice; a ‘what T-shirt would you like to wear today?’ choice.

But choices can be scary. Terrifying even. What if the T-shirt is scratchy? What if you drop off the zigzag path into the dark while your so-called friends yell ‘Sidestep left!’ at you?

What if you CHANGE YOUR MIND?  

I wanted every choice in Pick a Story to be fun, to be a great choice, but I didn’t want it to be too easy.

I wanted the book to be packed. I wanted consequences, re-discovery, hard-to-reach pages, variety, value and enough regret for the reader to want to read the book again. And then again. And then again and so on and so forth.  

Pick a Story was written to give as much control to the younger audience as possibly possible.

They select the story paths and character journeys. They can stay on mission or get distracted, make moral judgements or shop for something terribly fancy. They can also shout at giant squid.  

Scientists may claim that no true free will exists, but Pick a Story provides an approximate simulation. Now, isn’t that something we all deserve?  

Yours in awe of possibility,  

Sarah Coyle 

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