Monday, October 12, 2020

Spooky Star Wars Stories

In the past few years there have been plenty of options for young Star Wars readers to enjoy all aspects of the saga. Whether you prefer funny adventures like C-3PO Does Not Like Sand! or serious tales of the galactic struggle like Spark of the Resistance, there is a Star Wars story for everyone. 

Even fans of the SPOOKY side of the Force can find plenty to give them nightmares!

Here's a few of our favourite chilling tales in a galaxy far, far away... (Click on each for our original review)

Dark Legends by George Mann is a spine-tingling set of spooky tales has much in common with Myths & Fables as the stories are generally cautionary tales set in-universe in the Star Wars galaxy. Perhaps these are the stories that kept young padawans up at night?

The Mighty Chewbacca in the Forest of Fear! by Tom Angleberger is a middle-grade adventure novel featuring creepy chills and thrills hiding around every corner, or lurking in the next tree. Wookiees may not be afraid of the dangers that lurk ahead, but will you be?

Are You Scared, Darth Vader? by Adam Rex is a fun picture book where New York Times bestselling author/illustrator Adam Rex tries to answer the question of what could possibly scare the most terrifying villain in the galaxy. Spoiler alert: not much!

Tales from Vader's Castle are comics from IDW and part of the Star Wars Adventures series. These creepy comics have an over-riding story but also short stories within, featuring many familiar Star Wars characters facing horrors and frights! A follow up series called Return to Vader's Castle was also released. Both have been collected as graphic novels from IDW books.

Adventures in Wild Space is a series of middle-grade chapter books featuring all sorts of creepy crawlies and chilling brushes with danger. Exciting and fun, if you are brave enough!

And of course for those of you who are willing to dig deep and hunt them down, the original Galaxy of Fear chapter book series from 1997-98 is a must-read for terror and suspense in the Star Wars galaxy. The Adventures in Wild Space books and The Mighty Chewbacca both owe a bit of debt to these Goosebumps-inspired thrillers! 

What's the scariest Star Wars story you remember? Comment below!

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Read, Dare You? Dark Legends

The creative team behind 2019's Myths & Fables returns with another collection of stories for younglings, but this time not for the easily frightened!

Star Wars: Dark Legends (Disney-Lucasfilm Press) is a 200+ page middle-grade hardcover collection of stories from author George Mann with eerily wonderful illustrations by Grant Griffin.

This spine-tingling set of spooky tales has much in common with Myths & Fables as the stories are generally cautionary tales set in-universe in the Star Wars galaxy. Perhaps these are the stories that kept young padawans up at night?

Continue on...if you dare!

If you enjoyed the creepier stories in Myths & Fables you'll love Dark Legends too. The stories are all Star Wars, but certainly some resemble horror stories of earth. Featured among these tales are the Star Wars equivalent of vampires, werewolves and witches. There's a few that have a strong "be careful what you wish for" message, and twist endings right out of the Twilight Zone.

Like Myths & Fables, everything about the Dark Legends presentation is like an old-fashioned book of tales for children, from the look of the book, the cut of the paper, the style of the artwork and the language of the narratives. It is a real treat to see these kinds of books and the attention to detail that goes into them.
Also available!

The "Legends" within Dark Legends are not connected to each other, cross the Star Wars timeline in interesting ways, and can be enjoyed in any order.

The only thing close to a complaint would be that this book is much smaller than Myths & Fables. It's digest size is dwarfed by the previous collection. Together they don't really look like the set they appeared to be.

That aside, Dark Legends is another great collection in a fun new direction in Star Wars publishing!

Publisher's recommendation: 8 - 12 years

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Discover Use the Force!

What does it take to be a Jedi? Do you have what it takes? A brand-new book from DK poses those questions for young readers in a fun, entertaining way.

Use the Force! Discover What It Takes to Be a...Jedi is a 128-page guide book of sorts, but more of a light-hearted look at Jedi culture and famous Jedi in the Star Wars movies and TV shows. Not quite an In-Universe book, but still kind of is, this book explores the world of the Jedi in its own cheeky style.

Covering similar ground as more serious books like The Secrets of the Jedi and The Jedi Path, Use the Force! is a middle-grade "hybrid" book, meaning it's not really a graphic novel like the Jedi Academy series but still illustrated throughout with black and white photos and sketchy drawings. The design of this book is unique: LOTS of different fonts and plenty of yellow.

Fans of the Jedi Academy series and Tom Angleberger's Origami Yoda books will appreciate author Christian Blauvelt's humorous approach to the usually very serious topics of Jedi training, lifestyle, philosophy and more.

It's wonderful to see the continued practice of including TV characters and storylines in these books and not just focusing on the movies. Also Use the Force! is very current as it mentions a few things only revealed in the recent The Rise of Skywalker movie.

The overall look of the book may not appeal to some. DK is known for their amazing Visual Dictionary and other stunning Star Wars guide books but here the images are all black and white, or intentionally-amateurish line drawings.
One small complaint: the author makes it seem that Luke Skywalker himself trained Rey in the Jedi ways, but it was Leia who did that. Luke famously REFUSED to train her in their short time together in The Last Jedi. As seen in The Rise of Skywalker, Leia is the one training Rey. Here Leia is not mentioned as having been trained or teaching Rey as a Jedi, only that Leia "helps" Rey redeem Kylo Ren.

Use the Force! covers some pretty familiar territory as other books, but in very light-hearted way many younglings will enjoy.

(Publisher's Recommendation: Ages 7-10)

Also by Christian Blauvelt: 


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Read, You Must: Force Collector

Every teenager goes through dramatic changes. Karr Nuq Sin, a teen on the planet Merokia, is experiencing something entirely unique. In an era long past the end of the Jedi, Karr is realizing he is Force-sensitve, and possibly more directly connected to the Jedi than he could ever imagine!

Force Collector is YA novel from Disney/Lucasfilm Press published last year as part of the "Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" promotion. Author Kevin Shinick previously penned the adorable picture book Chewie and the Porgs and now brings us his first Star Wars novel.

The story follows the teenage Karr as he more and more frequently has to deal with his "episodes" - blackouts and seizures - when he comes in contact with items with a connection to the Force or past Force-users. Karr's parents expect him to follow them into the family business. Karr sees his destiny on another path...

Along the way he connects with and befriends a fellow student named Maize. With her rebellious spirit and his longing for answers they set out on an adventure seeking more and more artifacts across the galaxy. They hope to learn more about the Jedi in their travels, but little do they know the secrets they may uncover.
Also by Kevin Shinick

What follows is a 379-page planet-jumping adventure, virtually a tour of the Star Wars galaxy as we know it. Instead of exploring new and exotic worlds, Karr and Maize travel to parts of the galaxy we as readers are quite familiar with. Tatooine, Jakku, Takodana, and even Batuu from Galaxy's Edge. Kajimi makes an appearance here too, before the release of The Rise of Skywalker happened.They learn about the Star Wars galaxy from a fresh perspective, meeting familiar faces like Maz Kanata and Unkar Plutt.

Set shortly before the events of The Force Awakens, Force Collector offers a unique way to explore the Star Wars galaxy. The reader is probably already very familiar with the places Karr visits so we often know more than Karr simply by having seen the movies. That is until the last quarter or so, where we are just as in the dark as Karr and secrets are finally revealed!

Force Collector is fairly light-hearted by modern Young Adult standards, and very mild on the "Adult" part of the YA moniker. While it has it's serious parts and pretty raw emotions at times, it is an excellent YA starting point for young teen readers stepping up from middle-grade novels like Join the Resistance, Ezra's Gamble and the Adventures in Wild Space titles.

Add Force Collector to your collection!

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Fatherhood in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Bail and Brea Organa, with their new baby Leia

For an epic tale like the Star Wars saga, which places plenty of importance on who
is who's father, there aren't a ton of great examples of day-to-day fatherhood to be seen. There are a few moments to be sure, but it's takes a little digging to see great moments in fatherhood in Star Wars.

Of course there’s quite a few examples of terrible fathers like Darth Vader. There's also completely absent parents like Rey’s, Han Solo's or Ezra Bridger’s. But on a positive note, here’s a few of our favourite examples of fatherhood in the saga…

Bail Organa and his daughter Leia are only seen on screen together when she is a baby, but clearly there is great love and mutual admiration between them. As a founding member of the Rebel Alliance, Organa obviously influenced Leia's world-view of politics, justice and rebellion. Bail even states in Rogue One that he trusts her with his life, and Leia soon after goes searching for Obi-Wan Kenobi because he served her father during the Clone Wars.
Galen Erso in Rogue One clearly loved his family and of course his beloved "Stardust", his daughter Jyn. Unfortunately to keep her safe from Director Krennic and the Empire he had to leave her to be raised mainly by Saw Gerrera. The two were never able to properly reconnect, but Jyn clearly inherited a spirit of rebellion from both of her parents.

Cleigg Lars seems like he was decent person and devoted husband, so presumably he was a pretty good dad, too. He freed Shmi Skywalker from slavery and then later lost his legs trying to save her from Tusken Raiders!
Cleigg’s son Owen Lars, though he probably only knew Shmi for a few years at most (and apparently only met Anakin Skywalker once), took on the task, with his wife Beru of course, to be guardians of Anakin's secret son Luke.

This may seen like an unlikely one, but arguably the most involved father shown in any Star Wars movie is Jango Fett in Attack of the Clones! While Boba Fett isn't technically Jango's son but rather actually a CLONE of Jango, Jango raises him as his son and seems to be teaching Boba many of the tricks of his bounty hunter trade along the way.

We never really got to see what kind of father Han Solo was when Ben (aka Kylo Ren) was a child but certainly at the end of The Force Awakens Han shows nothing but love for his son. Clearly by then Han has regrets about his life so maybe he wasn't the kind of father he wished he'd been, but it's easy to see the emotional attachment he shares with Ben. There are glimpses of what kind of a dad Han might've been when he interacts with Rey throughout the movie.

Near the ending of The Rise of Skywalker there is a hint that Lando Calrissian may be interested in learning more about who Jannah's parents are. The junior novelization and Visual Dictionary take this one step further by pointing out that Lando is indeed a father and had his daughter taken away to be part of the First Order. It is certainly possible that Jannah is the long-lost daughter he misses but that is not made completely clear.

Did you know that Jabba the Hutt is also a dad? That was a new revelation in the movie of The Clone Wars that preceeded the release of the TV series. Little Rotta the Hutt, nicknamed "Stinky" by Ahsoka Tano, was only an infant at the time and perhaps the rest of his story will be told at a later time. It's really hard to imagine crime lord Jabba as a father, but it's true!

Who is your favourite Star Wars dad? Who did we miss? Leave a comment below...

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