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The Secret of the Artist Who Illustrated the First Choose Your Own Adventure Book

Choose Your Own Adventure #1 is titled the Cave of Time and it was released by Bantam, not to be confused with the mini bagels Bantam Bites, in 1979.  The original cover illustration would become a hallmark of Choose Your Own Adventure books and the guiding light for the rest of the series.  The cover was illustrated by an artist named Paul Granger. This isn’t a secret, his name is listed at the bottom of the book under the images of a person riding a horse, a water dragon, a mysterious knight holding a sword, a pikeman and a dinosaur. Sounds great, right?  It is.

There was something special about the Choose Your Own Adventure Covers and Paul Granger’s art did a lot to convey the outcomes and encounters you might face during a read through. It’s hard to choose a favorite, but if pressed, I’d choose Mr. Ganger’s depictions of a “Black Bart” style character above a western shoot out in #8 Deadwood City.

As it turns out, there was more mystery to the choose your own adventure books then found within its pages.  Paul Granger is one of these mysteries.  Before illustrating The Cave of Time, Mr. Granger worked on images for Wizard of Oz books, later in life he illustrated for the Reader’s Digest magazine. Mr. Granger also painted a little for and in the US Air Force where he flew and was decorated for his involvement in several campaigns.

Paul Granger lived a full life as an artist but here’s the secret… Paul Granger wasn’t his name.  Granger was the pen name he illustrated under. The man who drew OZ, stamps for the US Postal Services, countless illustrations for magazines and the covers for some of our favorite Choose Your Own Adventure Books real name was Don Hedin.   Mr. Hedin, aka Paul Granger, died in 2012 leaving a legacy of art and adventure.

Aaron is co-host of the Pages of Peril podcast and the co-host of the popular Disneyland and Star Wars podcast Bobsleds & Banthas. He works in marketing and teaches college classes in digital content creation.

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