Monday, October 6, 2008

Authors! Authors!

When it comes to games in our household, we're decidedly analog. We like dice games like Yahtzee, word games like Quiddler, board games like Sorry!, and we love card games. One of our favorites -- especially when we've got only a short amount of time -- has always been a game called Authors.

The object of Authors is a simple one: using Go Fish-type rules -- where you ask other players for specific cards -- you want to collect all four books by each of thirteen different authors. Each Ace, for example, represents Mark Twain, and each suit names a different book -- such as the Ace of Spades shown below at the far right, which features Tom Sawyer:

When it's your turn, simply ask another player if he (or she) has (for example) Mark Twain's The Mysterious Stranger and work to complete your set of four. If you come up empty, go to the draw pile and see if you luck into drawing it. If not, your turn's over. Simple. It's basically Go Fish for book lovers.

I played and loved this game as a kid -- it's actually been around since 1850 -- and it made a permanent impression on me. For one thing, beginning at grade two, I always remembered that Sir Walter Scott (whose face appears on each ten) was the author of Ivanhoe, and that Dickens (number two) wrote The Pickwick Papers. (Oddly, I did not remember that Washington Irving was one of the featured authors, scowling with heartburn from the face of each seven.) Now my own daughter has William Makepeace Thackeray's bookish face burned into her memory (along with his book Pendennis, which seems to be the card she's always missing), while my wife, who seems always to be stuck with James Fenimore Cooper, now refuses on principle to read The Last of the Mohicans.

If you're a parent who's looking for a fun, easy-to-learn -- and, yes, even (*gasp!*) educational -- game to play with your child, give Authors a try. Not only will you have fun, but you might even instill in your child a love of literature, and may inspire your young one -- or yourself -- to seek out some of the books featured on the cards. Our daughter is well beyond playing Go Fish-type games, yet this is still one we return to again and again, discussing the books and writers while we play, and sometimes doing funny voices for the authors pictured on the cards (I like to do a drugged-out Edgar Allan Poe, while Madi does an overly-excited Shakespeare.)

You can order Authors here. It's the best six bucks you'll ever spend.