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Game Tale

Game Tale





Game Tale


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Game Tale


(this review is a translation from Bulgarian)
(original review can be found here)


High up in the mountain, deep inside the forest, alongside the river, in a hole in the ground, there lived a gremlin.” It sounds like the iconic opening line of Tolkien’s Hobbit: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.The Big Adventure of the Little Gremlin is a wonderful fairy tale for kids, presented as a game. Quite a few years ago, gamebooks (or Choose Your Own Adventure) were at their peak, but in case you’ve missed them, they give you choices about how the story will go on, and how it will end. The Big Adventure offers, I believe, dozens of options to walk down one path or another across its whimsical world. The book is split into very short chapters, half a page each, and the readers wander among them, following their own choices. Each adventure consists of several such chapters. Then you can go back and see what happens if you choose another option, and then another, and another, until you’ve exhausted all of them. The end of every adventure usually features a moral, like fables and most fairy tales in general.

The little gremlin’s main goal is to fill his unhappy rumbling tummy, but along his way he meets various characters and has amusing or even dangerous adventures, described in a pleasant style reminding me mostly of Lewis Carroll among all children’s writers I can think of. Like his late British colleague, Nikola Raykov mixes fantasy and nonsense for children.


* Warning: here be minor spoilers *

My first journey...

I cannot speak about plot in the sense I used in my previous reviews, because, as I said already, it’s up to the readers. So here is how my first journey went: Of all the paths the gametale offers, I chose the one to the blackberries. Gremmy loves them, all right? Well, so do I, so I decided to pick some. However, I came across a sign and followed the direction it was pointing to. It said there was a music competition, and Gremmy loves to sing. I met a magpie on my way who told me that Granpa Bear had lost his glasses, so I decided I’d better fetch them to him before joining the competition. Granpa Bear turned out to be a very kind fellow, treating me to linden tea and, well, sauerkraut cakes. :-) Then you can always go back and see what would have happened if you’d walked on to the competition or the blackberry bush.

I suppose children will have even more fun with these stories, but I had my fair share too. Especially the scene with the friendly bat who shows you the way but you can make out his directions only if you stand on your head. I also ran into a dwarf with amazing culinary talents, a giant with even more amazing culinary tastes, a mole that had dug a waterslide, and a rabbit who turned out to be a king. Even a kangaroo who thought he was a squirrel ... or the other way round ... and so on.

*End of spoilers*


All in all, the book is highly original. Even Taoist philosophy makes an appearance: “The path forked to the left and right, even though Gremmy didn’t know left from right. Would left even be left if there was no right, and would right be right if there was no left?” or “ ... the big hole was only big if you passed through a small one first.” Of course, I’m kidding. I don’t think this was done on purpose.

Another merit of The Big Adventure is its artistic design. Each page of text comes with a full-color illustration. There is a balance between words and pictures. In this respect, the book doesn’t belong to one of the “asymmetric” categories, also known as “Western” vs. “Eastern” or “old” vs. “new” children’s literature. In the former, the text serves mostly as commentary to the illustrations, and in the latter, the illustrations supplement the text. The Big Adventure takes the middle ground.

The gametale can be read or browsed for free, where you can also buy a paper (hardcover) copy. I’ve based this review on the electronic version.

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