Top critical review
The Power to Choose Wrongly
Reviewed in the United States on February 10, 2020
Life is about choice and consequence. I figured that out at some point. And I'm enthusiastic about communicating this simple, basic principle to my children. But this book? This book is not a tool for demonstrating the repercussions of actions. This book is about the *exciting alternatives* explored by misbehavior. This book *rewards the reader* by opening new avenues of adventure whenever the reader chooses the wrong path.
Perhaps I am tainted. Perhaps I am overly influenced by my admittedly vague memories of Choose Your Own Adventure books from my youth. In those stories, oftentimes, when one selects an obviously bad choice (and even, occasionally, not so obvious) the result is the END OF THE ADVENTURE. Boom. You hit a dead-end. Your spaceship breaks down; your bicycle tire goes flat. The adventure *ends*.
Thus an actual, genuine consequence is delivered to the story line, to the reader, to the would-be explorer / astronaut / newspaper delivery kid. You made a bad choice; and you now will experience the repercussions of that choice. THAT is the choice-consequence model. THAT is what it feels like.
Here, instead, that entire model is distorted, inverted. New and exciting story lines are buried deep within this book's pages. And how do we reach them? By innocuous selection? By random event? No; in order to reach those plots, and their various endings, the reader must PURPOSELY CHOOSE TO PERFORM THE WRONG ACTION. He must -- actively; selectively; intentionally -- perform an immature, or unethical, or unkind act simply in order to reach those experiences. There is NO OTHER WAY to reach those story lines. None. Even Choose Your Own Adventure books oftentimes had multiple ways to achieve advancement, multiple paths to explore. Here, the story progression is a simple, dull, binary tree; you either stick to the good-behavior path, to the end; or you venture away from the yellow brick road by breaking the rules and/or throwing a tantrum. That doesn't teach important life lessons about consequence. If anything, that ENCOURAGES bad behavior, because bad behavior then leads to MORE INTERESTING RESULTS. Consequence-free results, typically, as those paths can and will eventually lead to various different happy endings, leaving the bad choices that enabled the reader to reach such endings far behind.
Thus this book is very carefully structured to teach precisely the OPPOSITE lesson from its supposed design. Rather than being any sort of aid in guiding a child's development of self-discipline and proper behavior, it instead invokes the suppose notion that doing the wrong thing can lead to FUN. Perhaps next I'll encourage my children to play with a box full of matches, because even though the house will burn down, at least we can all sit around and roast some marshmallows afterwards. The Power to Choose!