Monday, August 18, 2014

Read, You Must: Star Wars Rebels Ezra's Gamble

Before the television premiere of Star Wars Rebels this fall, read Star Wars Rebels Ezra's Gamble, a prelude story (or prequel) to the show focusing on the youngest new hero of the Star Wars universe, 14 year-old Ezra Bridger. Set between Episodes III and IV this story sets up Ezra before he meets the rest of the Rebels.

This 154 page adventure novel for confident young readers begins with Ezra living on the streets of Lothal, swiping and swindling things from wealthy visitors who have arrived to see the illegal gladiator fights. Without parents he is on his own to steal or sell the things he nabs to take care of himself in the Imperial-controlled city. This lifestyle leads him to encounter many shady characters including the vicious bounty hunter Bossk. Star Wars: The Clone Wars fans will remember Bossk from several episodes. Bossk has been around much longer than that though: he’s standing by Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader infamously says “No disintegrations”.

Bossk and his happy pals in The Empire Strikes Back
Ezra and Bossk form a dangerous partnership when a corrupt Imperial double-crosses Bossk. The title Ezra’s Gamble refers to his choice between trusting the cutthroat bounty hunter to pay him for his trouble or to walk away from the danger, and the possible reward. Does it pay off? You’ll have to read it to find out!

Ryder Windham has written many wonderful Star Wars books for young readers and it’s no surprise he was one of the first authors asked to work with Rebels' characters. His stories are exciting, quick-paced and never feel like they’ve been made “kid-friendly”. The characters have complications and conflict, their actions have consequences, and solutions rarely come without a cost. Windham’s books aren’t some kiddie version of Star Wars - they’re just good Star Wars with an awareness of younger readers interests and vocabularies.

So get to know Ezra Bridger in this fun, character-driven adventure from Lucasfilm Press/Disney Books. Ezra’s Gamble is a very safe bet. (Recommended ages 8-12)

- Chris @SWKidscast

Did you know? Gladiator fights aren’t new to Star Wars...

Scene from the original Clone Wars cartoon (2003)

Han must face Chewbacca back in this 1979 issue!

Here's a few other Star Wars Kidscast recommendations from author Ryder Windham:

Star Wars: The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader

Star Wars, Episode IV - A New Hope (Junior Novelization)

Fire Ring Race (Star Wars: Adventures in Hyperspace)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Padawan Parenting: A Jedi Lives to Serve

Jay Krebs, a teacher (Rogue 7 at, mom and blogger for one of my favourite Star Wars podcast/blog fan-sites Coffee With Kenobi, offered to write a guest piece on how she ties together Star Wars fandom and volunteerism with her kids. I loved the idea so much it begins a new series: Padawan Parenting! Look for more articles in the future. -Chris

We all know how incredibly precious time spent together with our younglings can be, and for parents like me who have older kids (a tween and a young teen); we know those sands of time fall faster than stars streaking by in hyperspace.

One of the ways I have found to be a win-win in terms of time spent with my kids is through volunteering. More specifically, Star Wars-style volunteering!

My love for Star Wars has inspired and affected my life in so many diverse ways, but one of the most surprising ways has been by helping me teach my children about the importance of service to others.

I am the proud Mom of two boys, now 12 and 14. Needless to say, they were raised on Star Wars. My Star Wars moniker has always been MO2YP – MomOf2YoungPadawans. So, it’s pretty safe to assume that Star Wars has permeated pretty much every aspect of their lives in one way or another.

Talent Show for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation - 2008
I am also a high school teacher entering into my 22nd year of teaching. As my kids grew, they were often part of the various service activities in which my students and I were involved. One year, we were part of a school-wide talent show, fundraising for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  My niece (who was a freshman at the time), and I performed “The Saga Begins” by “Weird Al” Yankovic. We were in full Jedi garb; myself as Qui-Gon and my niece as Obi-Wan. My two boys, who were then 7 and 5 at the time, were dressed as Jedi “stage hands” and helped with the performance.

There have been several other service activities in which my boys have played a part. It’s just always been something we’ve done.  

Library Star Wars Party 2014
Most recently, last weekend my 12-year-old son and I volunteered at a “Star Wars Party” that a local library was sponsoring.  I happened to see an article in our newspaper about it, and called the library to help. I was just going to do it myself, dressed as Queen Amidala, but when I told my son about it he said “can I dress as Boba Fett? I’d love to come and help!” Gee, who am I to say “no” to a kid who wants to volunteer his time, away from the TV and/or video games?!

Why volunteer? Some of the major benefits are:
  • It brings you closer together as a family!  By strengthening values, time spent together and the ability to connect with each other and with the greater world.
  • It helps kids’ self-esteem: By helping others, kids feel good about themselves. It creates a sense of empathy and compassion for others as well.
  • It builds future skills: kids who volunteer tend to do better in school, are less likely to involve themselves in risky behavior, and build a work ethic that will help them in whatever career field they choose later in life
  • It makes kids thankful: Sometimes seeing or knowing what others DON’T have is the best way to teach kids about being thankful for what they have.
  • It’s a lot of FUN!!

A few ideas, depending on your Padawan's ages and abilities:

  • Star Wars Reads Day at your local library: You and your kids could help out with a variety of activities, read Star Wars books to younger kids, or cosplay and get lots of pictures taken (my personal favorite – I’m a sucker for dressing up!). Like I said, just call them up. Sometimes, you (the adult) may have to fill out an official volunteer form and be approved beforehand, so be sure to plan ahead for that one.

Students making blankets
  • Making fleece tie-blankets: My kids have made those double-layer tie blankets with Star Wars fleece, and have donated them to various organizations. It’s easy to do with supervision, even for young Padawans. If you can use a pair of scissors and can tie a knot, you can make a blanket!
My favorite organization is our local chapter of Project Linus. If you ask around, you might even to be able to get some fleece donated to you.

  • Make Star Wars-themed cookies for an event: This one could fit for a variety of organizations…
Local Red Cross Blood Drive – set up a table and give cookies to blood donors for their after-donation treat.
Delicious, they are!
Community charity fundraising event – This could be anything from a table set up for runners at the end of a race (yes, runners do eat cookies after a race sometimes…trust me, I’m one of them!  For a resource to find races near you, try or for a start) helping out with a donation drive like Alex’s Lemonade Stand.

  • Donate gently-used Star Wars toys, books, Lego sets, clothing: … And hand-deliver them to places like your local Children’s Services Office, Women’s Shelters, etc. 
  • Get creative! Think about your own interests, your child’s, the time you have to spend, etc. It doesn’t have to cost money, either!

Of course, Star Wars-style volunteerism doesn’t have to end just because kids grow up! The 501st Legion and the Rebel Legion immediately come to mind. These organizations do an amazing job of giving back to their communities!

Please feel free to contact me with any comments or questions you may have about this blog, resources, ideas, etc.

I hope you have found some helpful and inspiring ideas for you and the children in your life! May the Force Be With You!

Jay (MO2YP)
Follow me on Twitter: @JoyceKrebs

Some great ideas for Star Wars baking and crafts...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Read, You Must: Quick Look at Two Star Wars Rebels Books

August has been a great month for young Star Wars readers! Here's a quick look at 2 of the 6 brand new Star Wars Rebels books from Lucasfilm Press/Disney Book Group released already...

Star Wars Rebels Rise of the Rebels is a 118 page chapter book that tells some of the stories that will be featured in the upcoming Star Wars Rebels TV show. Author Michael Kogge, writer for Star Wars Insider magazine and Star Wars role-playing games, adapts the scripts of several soon-to-air  episodes. Each of the main characters gets their own section. The stories introduce the characters through individual adventures.

The design of the book inside is very cool with all sorts of new Rebels artwork and imagery. The title really could've just been "Meet the Rebels" but that was taken. This isn't really a story of the Rebellion taking shape. It's more a fun, detailed introduction to all the main heroes. Suggested for ages 8-12.

Also released the same day was Star Wars Rebels Chopper Saves the Day, a much shorter story (24 pages) for even younger fans. This picture book tells the same story as the first section of Rise of the Rebels, a short skirmish in space between Hera, Kanan, Chopper (of course) and Imperial TIE fighters.

This fun book reminded me very much of the kind of tie-in kids' books popular in the 1980's, to the point it feels like it should come with a read-along record or cassette tape! Sadly it doesn't but it does come with a bunch of stickers.
Suggested for ages 6-8.

Have you read either book? What did you think? Comment below...
Chris @SWKidscast

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Read, You Must: Star Wars Rebels The Visual Guide

Star Wars Rebels is the brand-new animated series coming this Fall to Disney XD, set between the Episode III and IV films, about 5 years before Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

In fairness to anyone avoiding info about the new show before it premieres, this review of DK Publishing’s brand new Star Wars Rebels The Visual Guide will not spoil any secrets.

If you really don’t want to know much in advance then wait until October to buy this book! It’s crammed full of the kind of details, trivia and pictures we Star Wars fans love. If you’re eager to know everything you can about the show though, then this book is a must-read!

Rich and colourful images fill nearly every page in this 128 page hardcover book along with informative and entertaining writing from What Makes a Monster? author Adam Bray. This book has been released months before the show’s premiere so I was concerned that very few secrets would be shared. Happily, I was wrong! Yes there’s a LOT left to discover once we see the show, but until then there are all kinds of nuggets and info in here. In fact, even though I’ve seen all the clips and trailers on, I still learned about several brand-new Star Wars Rebels characters I’d never seen before reading this book.

Star Wars Rebels The Visual Guide gives a two-page profile to each of the major characters, then highlights the key weapons, locations and vehicles you can expect to see in the new show. Sidebars of information and statistics are everywhere. What could at first glance appear to be a thick picture book has plenty of text to take in written by an obvious Star Wars fan.

There's a forward by Executive Producer Dave Filoni (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) and also a few pages of behind-the-scenes images and interviews, the kind of stuff I loved as a kid...and still do!

I have no real complaints about this book but even though it contains a LOT of new information, it does also raise many questions and we’ll just have to wait to see if answers come in the show.

For a quicker introduction to the new characters and settings from Star Wars Rebels, and for the younger readers in your house, check out the new DK Reader Star Wars Rebels: Meet the Rebels by Sadie Smith. This is a 32-page Level 2 (Beginning to Read Alone) paperback. The title pretty much sums it up as the book provides an easy-to-read overview of the main characters, including two of those aforementioned completely new characters.

Both of these books are of the same high quality you’d expect from DK and reading them has got me more excited than ever to see the new show. The artwork is amazing and the show looks like it’ll be a LOT of fun. Bring on the Rebels

Also now available: Star Wars Rebels Ultimate Sticker Collection (DK Publishing) 

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