Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Read, You Must: Aliens of the Galaxy

What’s Star Wars without the aliens? Hard to imagine! 

With memorable characters like Jabba the Hutt, Yoda, Jar Jar Binks and Maz Kanata, Star Wars has always shown a wide variety of lifeforms that populate the galaxy far, far away. Some aliens are terrifying like Darth Maul and others are huggable like Chewbacca, but they sure are all a big part of what makes Star Wars so great!

In Star Wars: Aliens of the Galaxy frequent Star Wars author Jason Fry (Weapon of a Jedi, Star Wars in 100 Scenes and many more!) describes the interesting traits of numerous alien species. The book is 42 pages full of photos and images spanning all 7 “Episode” movies (no Rogue One sneak peeks here). One nice feature is the large fold-out section at the back that really highlights the different aliens of The Force Awakens in a big way!

There are other great guidebooks to the characters of Star Wars but they usually focus only on the movies OR the TV shows – rarely both. Thankfully not here! 

In Aliens of the Galaxy you usually see a variety of images for each kind of alien including how they appeared on TV. Along the way there are many nuggets of information to “Increase your galactic IQ” as well.
For younglings wanting to learn more about the non-human characters of Star Wars, particularly those in The Force Awakens, Aliens of the Galaxy is a fun, informative read with plenty of detailed visuals.

Publisher's Recommendation: Ages 6 - 9

Also by Jason Fry:  

Friday, October 14, 2016

Galaxy of Fear: Star Wars Horror Stories for Kids?

"Fear is the path to the Dark Side." - Yoda

It may seem like an odd combination to create a creepy line of Star Wars books, and maybe even weirder to make them stories for kids. However in a galaxy full of aliens, creatures and Dark Side users there is plenty to give younglings nightmares!

Spooky stories for kids have long been a staple of children's storytelling dating back to oral traditions, folklore and fairy tales. In the 1990's though, one particular series of scary books for kids became a publishing phenomenon: R.L. Stine's Goosebumps. With page-turning stories of thrills and chills, dozens upon dozens of Goosebumps books were published in a very short time period as millions of copies sold.

Young readers obviously had a big interest in horror stories so unsurprisingly many publishers tried to appeal to that audience. Bantam publishing (then the publisher of Star Wars novels) launched Star Wars: Galaxy of Fear, a series of twelve chapter books all written by John Whitman. 

Just in case it wasn't clear that these were meant to be creepy tales, the books had titles like Eaten Alive, City of the Dead, and Army of Terror.

Published from 1997-1998, the series are really more adventure books than horror, but there certainly are some scary moments! The books focus on a young sister and brother Tash and Zak and their travels with their Uncle Hoole. The curious kids usually go places they're not supposed to go and open doors that should be left closed. Trouble and mystery are around many dark corners and these two are great at finding it!

The series was short-lived and has yet to be revisited. It seems unlikely that Disney/Lucasfilm Press will be creating a new line of horror-based Star Wars kids' books anytime soon. However, there's certainly plenty of creepy elements in the recent book Star Wars Aliens vol. 1

Since the series ended, the galaxy has expanded to include creatures like acklays, reeks, rathtars, zillo beasts, not to mention the witches of Dathomir or the brain-controlling worms seen in The Clone Wars. Surely there's plenty of horrifying material to work with if a new series is created!

The Galaxy of Fear books are long out of print but they sometimes appear in used book stores, or you can likely find them online...if you dare!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Read, You Must: Ahsoka

What happened to Ahsoka?

Fans of The Clone Wars TV series were left wondering what happened to Anakin Skywalker’s apprentice Ahsoka Tano ever since her unceremonious departure from the Jedi Order at the end of Season 5. 

There were more planned stories involving the skilled, young Togruta but the show was (also unceremoniously) cancelled before those and the rest of the tales bridging Episode II and III could be told. 

Viewers were speculating if she’d turn to the Dark Side, if she’d disappear entirely, or if she could somehow come back to face Anakin. Little did she know about HIS future!

When Star Wars Rebels re-introduced Ahsoka at the end of Season 1 she was a mature Rebel leader, far more serious than she’d been years earlier.

So what happened to her in those 14 or so years in between The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels

Author E.K. Johnston (A Thousand Nights, The Story of Owen) and Disney/Lucasfilm Publishing takes Star Wars into the world of Young Adult (YA) fiction for a second time with Star Wars: Ahsoka and answer many of those burning questions. 
Not her, apparently.

Ahsoka tells the story of the former Jedi on the run from Empire. When the book begins Order 66 has already happened, the Republic has become the Empire and the Jedi Order is widely considered traitorous and dangerous.

It is a dark time when it was not safe at all to use the Force in public, let alone wield a lightsaber (or two).  Moving from town to town, planet to planet, Ahsoka must hide her true identity or be hunted by Imperials. She adopts the name Ashla and befriends a local farmers on the planet Raada.

Author E.K. Johnston
As the Empire’s control of Raada grows, “Ashla” must decide if she can help the locals or if her presence puts everyone in danger. Does doing the right thing mean running away? Ahsoka’s conscience conflicts with her Jedi training here but nothing could’ve prepared her for the heartless acts of the Empire.
Ahsoka from The Clone Wars
The story builds in steps as Ahsoka builds her new life. It starts somewhat slowly with her getting her bearings on a new planet, making new friends and even setting herself up a fix-it shop for droids and equipment. As she learns more about the Empire’s dealings on Raada she knows she cannot sit idly by. She’s no longer officially a Jedi but the Jedi code is deep within her so of course she fights the Empire - but not without cost. 

The pace picks up throughout the book and the story ends with plenty of dramatic Star Wars action. It also sets up the Ahsoka we see in Star Wars Rebels very well. 

Like Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars, Ahsoka is accessible to fans of a wide age range but written primarily with "young adult" (aka teen) readers in mind. There is nothing particularly inappropriate for younger readers here but the slow build may not be of interest to some younglings. 
Ahsoka as she appears in Star Wars Rebels

Ahsoka fans of any age will find satisfactory answers to many of their bigger questions of what happened to her between The Clone Wars and Rebels in Ahsoka.

Now if we could just get a book like this about Rey….please!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

October is "Star Wars Reads" Month!

In the past we've enjoyed spreading the word about Star Wars Reads Day, an annual event that has been happening the past few years in October that celebrates Star Wars and reading. What's not to love about that?

This year the day has grown into a MONTH! So for all of October fans around the Galaxy will be celebrating in different ways.

Star Wars Kidscast will be enjoying Star Wars Reads by spotlighting recommended Star Wars books, sharing photos and spreading the word about events on our facebook (@StarWarsKidscast) and Twitter (@SWKidscast). 

What are your favourite Star Wars books? Does your school or library have an event? Do you dress up? Feel free to share your experience! We'd love to hear about it.

Here's the link to this year's Star Wars Reads downloadable pdf activity kit!

Don't forget to use the tag #StarWarsReads in your social media messages!

For more info visit StarWars.com

Happy reading and may the Force be with you! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Read, You Must: Star Wars Complete Locations

Star Wars: Complete Locations is the book for readers wondering how Rey made a crashed AT-AT into a liveable space or what the inside of every level of Maz Kanata’s castle looked like. 

Ever imagined the hidden corners of Jabba’s palace or how the Rebel Alliance got their starcraft in and out of the Yavin 4 temple? Or even an aerial map of all the parts of Endor seen in Return of the Jedi? The look inside the Rebels’ Hoth base is particularly stunning!

It’s all here and a lot more in a book appropriately titled Complete Locations (at least until Rogue One comes out, or Episode VIII, or…… the future is pretty awesome for Star Wars, huh?). The focus here is the settings of the action of the Star Wars movies, not the action itself.

Star Wars: Complete Locations from DK is a large-size hardcover book full of richly detailed illustrations and all sorts of nuggets of information. This book is a great companion piece to books like Incredible Cross-Sections and the various Star Wars Visual Dictionaries and is similar in structure to those titles.

With 192 pages – many of them foldout - much of this material has been seen before in earlier books like Inside the Worlds of Star Wars Trilogy and Inside the Worlds of Star Wars Episode I. Brand new is the last section, dedicated to the places and spaces of The Force Awakens.


What’s great about these sorts of books is that they are easily enjoyable on different levels so they can appeal to fans of different ages and interests. There’s plenty of interesting information to read for those who really want to dive in deep. For others, simply marveling at the thought and detail put into each illustration is enjoyable enough.

Either way, readers will notice all sorts of things in corners and backgrounds of the movies after this enjoying this book!

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