A literary game of go fish
That said, when I heard there was a new literary game coming out, I jumped at the chance for our family to try it.
Notable Novelists arrived with 54 cards in a sturdy box. The artwork is interesting, and though the artist pictures aren’t in a style that I care for, the kids think it’s cool, and that’s what really matters – that it appeals to them. It’s intended for two or more players, ages 12 and up.
The authors included in this particular literary set were writers of modern 20th century works. Many have won awards such as Pulitzer, Nobel and National Book Critics Circle Awards. All are deceased; this choice was made by the creators of the game in an effort to create a sense of timelessness.
There are three cards per author: one author card, that includes the author’s name, birth and death dates, and a drawing of the author. The second lists three books by the author, while the third card describes an important or interesting fact about the author. The three cards together make a “literary set”. (List of authors included.)
Gameplay is actually very simple, like playing Go Fish with just three cards instead of four. The primary difference is that cards must be asked for specifically, not just by set, which makes the game take a while longer than it would have otherwise. The game is over when all the literary sets have been completed. (View the rules.)
We really like the Notable Novelists cards and the artwork overall; it’s obvious a lot of effort went into the design. What puzzled us is actually sort of twofold: why go to all the effort of making such neat cards with great information on them, and then not have gameplay that used the information on the cards in any way?
The second part, the only reason we could see for the 12 and up designation, possibly, is the choice of books and authors. Sure, perhaps those books are appropriate only for ages 12 and up – but this game definitely doesn’t require middle school and up. My 10-year-old was just fine with it – and really, would have been just as soon as she was a fluent enough reader to sound out the author names.
So, definitely a mixed opinion here. While we love the cards, the gameplay doesn’t used them to their full advantage, or really, any advantage at all – it’s playing Go Fish with a different set of cards.
The biggest positive about Notable Novelist, is when we weren’t playing the game, the kids *have* looked through the cards to read all the info because they were curious, and a couple have requested authors and titles that interested them.
So, perhaps that’s the point… but I really feel that this rule set isn’t the best use of the Notable Novelist cards, and while the creators have indicated possibly publishing future sets, I can’t see a lot of repeat buyers unless there is some kind of more compelling game play involved. Or another thought – an expansion pack that also expands the rule set or game options?
The Crazy Thing – An Unexpected Hit
My kids love Go Fish. So, Notable Novelists is a hit in our house. Totally surprised me, because I’d been afraid that once they realized it was Go Fish in a different skin, they’d lose interest. (Which took about thirty seconds, at most.) While I’m skeptical that’s going to be the case in every house, it’s worth a try if you think it might fly with your kids.
Other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed three titles from playPlay games, ColorPlay, StoryPlay, and PaintPlay.