Okay, so really I'm flabbergasted by the actual book and not the cover, but the cover is its own form of bad, too. My particular favorite aspect is the railroad that conveniently runs through the front yard of Mr. Slave-owning-rifle-shooting-but-not-chasing-guy. 'Cause kids are literal.
Choose Your Own Mindfuck
Okay, I admit it. I loved Choose Your Own Adventure books when I was a kid. I loved reading and this was like interactive reading. What could be better? If you don't remember these, the books start out with about five pages of plot. Say, you're in San Francisco and the big one hits. A stranger is pinned nearby, but you know that a block away is someone whom you know and who might be in trouble. Then the book gives you a choice. Do you, A) save the stranger? or B) go save your friend? Either way could lead you to half a dozen more choices. In some of them you're a hero, in some you die, some scenarios just kind of fizzle out. As an adult I can look back and think about morality plays and critical thinking skills, but as a kid I was kinda a control freak (okay, so still am) and I enjoyed trying to make the "right" choice. Which was usually the boring choice. In Earthquake!, as detailed above, if you choose to save the stranger he ends up being a multi-millionaire and giving you money to go to college. Of course, the story ends there, which is dull and boring, whereas if you go the other way you run into tigers and poisonous spiders and all other kinds of cool things.
Choose Your Own Adventures also had cool plots like Journey to the Ant People and You Are a Shark! Of course, I don't think I ever ran across the following book: