Any kid who had to make long car trips knew very well the pleasures of a good Yes & Know book.
After spending so much time in close quarters with your family, there was nothing you wanted more than a little “me time”, playing games with nobody but little old you.
Yes & Know not only delivered that needed break, it even had games you could play with your siblings once they got back in your good graces. Like those groovy invisible ink pens that came inside the package, Yes & Know books were so cool, you could’ve sworn they were magic.
Lee Publications brought its first “Magic Pen” books to the public in the mid-70s, and a generation of travel-hating kids bowed down in thanks. The games varied, but the mechanism remained the same.
The pages of the Yes & Know book had an excess of white space, and that was where your Magic Pen came in. By rubbing the pen’s yellowish tip across the right spots, writing and other objects would appear as if by magic.
The most common game was multiple-choice trivia, with correct answers revealed by the stroke of a pen. Other popular games included Football, Baseball and Bowling (the pen reveals your hits, yardage, scores, etc.), Hangman, Fleet (a Battleship knock-off), matching games, a maze game with arrows indicating your possible moves, and the detective game Line Up.
Nearly everything was designed for solo enjoyment (oo-er missus!) but the trivia games had rules for multiple players as well. And if games weren’t your style, then “Magic Pen Painting Books” provided pages of colouring fun to take your mind off your travels.
The cover was pretty liberal in its age ranges (“From 8-108! From 11-111!”), but it wasn’t too far off the mark. The games were genuinely fun, and since the pen never lied, there was no way to cheat.