Pulp for 8 year olds: Choose Your Own Adventure cover art

choose-your-own-adventure-movie-in-development-610x400For those of you who may be unfamiliar, Choose Your Own Adventure was a series of books that were popular in the 80s and 90s. These books fell somewhere in-between tabletop RPGs and text-based adventure games. The reader would assume the role of the protagonist uncovering some sort of sinister plot, or embarking on a grand adventure, and through a series of branching choices, could effect the outcome of the book. To younger kids, these books were a gateway to games like Dungeons & Dragons and proved hours of fun as well as developing critical thinking skills. The concept of Choose Your Own Adventure, was created by Edward Packard, and the prototype of the series, Sugarcane Island, was published in 1976. Though the series has gone through a few different publishers, Choose Your Own Adventure still persists today as a popular series for kids.

The series is notable for the creative plots and the ability to effect the outcome based on choice, however, one of the most notable aspects of the books, is its cover art. If you were a child in the 1980s or 90s, you could recognize the look of a CYOA book from a mile off. The white borders with a red label, and inside the frame was a stylized picture of what we might find inside. These illustrations were like the pulp covers of the 1950s, but for eight year olds. These covers often showed heroes in peril, spaceships, far off planets and grandiose monsters. These covers promised escape and heroism and for a child who spends most of his/her days being told what to do, they were a godsend.

To celebrate these wonderful books, I wanted to show some of my favorite covers from the series. There’s some wonderful illustration on these books, and I hope you’ll enjoy this trip down memory lane. After you’ve finished looking at all of the wonderful art, turn to page 42*.




cyoa030 cyoa008 cyoa028 choose-your-own-adventure-inside-ufo-54-401 vampex


cyoa052 Do you have fond memories of reading Choose Your Own Adventure books? Do you have a favorite that we may have missed? Let us know in the comments!

*Page 42: YOU ARE DEVOURED BY A SHARKTOPUS. Your remains are placed in a pauper’s grave. At your funeral, a grizzled sea captain plays a dirge on an antique squeeze box as a shadowy figure with a star tattoo on his wrist, sheds a single tear.

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