Saturday, September 27, 2014

Read, You Must: Star Wars in 100 Scenes

Star Wars In 100 Scenes is a brand new look at the entire Star Wars movie saga (so far) in one hefty, photo-filled volume from DK Publishing. 

The six movies are broken down into a series of two-page spreads highlighting key moments, character introductions and a little behind-the-scenes trivia. The storyline is summarized scene-by-scene by author Jason Fry (Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode Guide, Jupiter Pirates) as he offers insights gathered from the movies, books, comics and other sources. It is more of a guide book than Fry’s 2011 Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Scholastic), which told the same story but in a much more illustrated storybook way.

The images are stunning of course, and every page is FULL of pictures. Like many other photo-rich DK books, moments that quickly go by on screen are frozen here and allow you to notice details you may have missed no matter how many times you see the movies.
Obi-Wan has a lovely time with the Fetts!

Star Wars in 100 Scenes is written to be appropriate for 7-15 year-olds but fans of any age, including adults, would get something out of this.

Vader's big entrance: dum dum dum DUMMMM!
The emphasis is on action and excitement, as the cover suggests: “Experience the Excitement of the Epic Saga”. Among the 100 exciting scenes highlighted there are some notably absent character and story moments. For example, Anakin meeting Padmé for the first time is never mentioned or shown (pretty vital to the entire overall story) nor is Han Solo’s encounter with Greedo in the Mos Eisley cantina. Understandably, boiling the six films down into 100 scenes meant that some scenes would not make it in. I’m sure there were many debates before the 100 were chosen.

This is a gorgeous book that belongs on any Star Wars fans’ bookshelf. However the best use for this book may be this: if you have a friend or relative who isn’t willing or able to sit down and watch six whole movies but asks “why do you love Star Wars so much?” hand them a copy of Star Wars In 100 Scenes. You’ll likely create a new fan right there!

-Chris @SWKidscast

Monday, September 22, 2014

Origami Yoda Series & Tour Concludes

Bursting with even more energy than his enthusiastic fans (often referred to as Superfolders), Tom Angleberger concluded his promotional tour on Sunday for the latest (last?) book in the best-selling Origami Yoda series here in the Vancouver area. 

Appearing at the North Vancouver library (with thanks to Kidsbooks) Angleberger discussed a little about Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus, juggled with his old mentor, had a paper-airplane contest with origami artist Joseph Wu, and taught everyone how to fold an "emergency five-fold Yoda", useful when no other Yoda is available.

Unlike most authors who talk a little, read an excerpt, then answer a few questions, Angleberger encouraged plenty of noise and participation and actually didn't read from his books at all. Having now released the sixth book of the series he seemed comfortable to assume most kids there had read them so there were plenty of inside jokes. It would be a safe assumption considering how many of the kids brought their entire set of the books to be signed, and how many brought BAGS full of origami characters, Star Wars and more, to share. 

The "Final" book...or is it??
These kids were excited to meet the author of books that truly meant something to them. Tom Angleberger's Origami Yoda series is certainly an entertaining read, but without ever getting preachy, each book has something to say to young readers about a variety of heavy topics. For example, a lot of books for middle-graders contain bullying as a plot device, but amid a fun book like Darth Paper Strikes Back, Angleberger is able to go deeper and look at what happens when complicated issues are handled by well-meaning adults looking for easy answers.

Star Wars Kidscast hasn't posted a review of the individual Origami Yoda books simply because most of them were released before our launch. Reviewing only the last book seems a little odd - sort of like ONLY watching Return of the Jedi and skipping the other movies. Let's just say the entire series is recommended for any strong readers interested in the drama and laughs of middle-school and to adults who are curious about the only Star Wars-related novels set on Earth (so far).

Serious paper-airplane folding!
You don't need to be a Star Wars fanatic to enjoy the books but it sure would help, particularly as the series goes on and more obscure characters and moments are referenced. But what do squirrels, Cheetos and a foul-mouthed monkey named Soapy have to do with all of this? You'll just have to read the books to find out! 

For our interview with Tom Angleberger earlier this year click here!

Origami Yoda may be over as a series but there's more Star Wars coming from Tom Angleberger. New book adaptions of the three original Star Wars films (Episodes IV, V & VI) are coming soon from Disney Publishing, and guess who is thrilled to be writing a version of Return of the Jedi?

During the question portion of the event on Sunday, Angleberger proudly discussed this new book project and suggested that in his version, we'll finally know how an Ewok is able to take down a Stormtrooper!

Tom was happy to sign and draw something for everyone!

And there was quite a line-up!
Thanks Tom for a wonderful afternoon, but more importantly thank you for your contribution to spreading the love of Star Wars to a new generation!

-Chris @SWKidscast

Monday, September 15, 2014

Star Wars Rebels: Read the Videos

Coming January 2015
As the TV premiere of Star Wars Rebels rapidly approaches, Lucasfilm has released four short videos to highlight individual characters (links below). They also set the tone for what’s to come in the new animated series. These shorts are not part of future episodes though - they are mini-episodes set in the same world and time-frame.

The four videos are entertaining and engaging ways to introduce the action and characters, but if you want to possibly dig deeper these stories have all been released in brand-new books from Lucasfilm Press/Disney Book Group, adapted for various reading levels.

For confident readers, all four stories have been retold and expanded upon in the “Star Wars Saga Chapter Book” Rise of the Rebels by Michael Kogge. The illustrations are minimal but very cool and stylized in this book and each tale gets three short chapters.

For beginning readers there are a few ways to experience these stories in books:

The Machine in the Ghost may have sounded like a creepy title for a young children’s picture book so it was retitled Chopper Saves the Day, but it’s almost line-for-line the same exciting scene aboard Hera’s ship...and it comes with stickers!

Sabine’s skirmish with stormtroopers Art Attack will be released early next year as part of Disney's World of Reading Series. The Level 1 reader will be called, appropriately, Sabine’s Art Attack.

Zeb takes on a few stormtroopers himself in Entanglement and young readers can enjoy it on bookshelves now as the Level 1 World of Reading reader Zeb to the Rescue.
Finally, Ezra encounters a crashed TIE-fighter pilot in Property of Ezra Bridger, also now available as the somewhat unimaginatively-titled Level 2 reader Ezra and the Pilot.

For the most confident young readers, this same Ezra story also makes its way into Ryder Windham's junior novel Ezra's Gamble as an epilogue to that fun adventure.

-Chris @SWKidscast

Monday, September 8, 2014

Read, You Must: Star Wars Rebels: Head-to-Head

The latest in Scholastic’s imaginary combat series Star Wars Rebels: Head-to-Head is a fun and fully-illustrated book for detail-loving young fans. Like in previous titles Star Wars: Head-to-Head and Star Wars: Head-to-Head Tag Teams, frequent Lucasfilm author Pablo Hidalgo has created 26 “what if” scenarios pitting key characters from the upcoming Star Wars Rebels TV show against each other.

Each match-up describes a tense scene arising and then a profile of the two opposing combatants, be they humans, droids, aliens or even vehicles. The reader is left to use his or her imagination, weigh the stats and decide who may come out victorious. The final page lets the reader know how those predictions fare against the “experts’ picks”. 

The lack of combat shown (the cover has the most aggressive image present) could be frustrating to some considering the whole book is focused on conflict, but if you enjoy using your imagination that won’t be a problem. The book often feels like the start-up screen of a combat video game, just before the countdown to the actual fight. The “heroic matchups you must see to believe!” line on the front AND back covers is a little misleading but the book is indeed a great introduction to the new show.

Earlier in the series...
Even if you aren’t all that interested in the actual matchups or outcomes, this 64-page book is filled with details about each character, weapon or vehicle and reveals several characters not seen in any other Rebels book to date. It works as a wonderful companion book to DK’s Star Wars Rebels: The Visual Guide.

Two things make this book especially interesting. First, it’s arrived before the series premiere so it is possible that the battles described may show up in future Star Wars Rebels episodes. Second, the author is directly involved in the production of the show, so his “experts’ picks” on the last page may reveal actual outcomes of those scenarios. Before you jump to conclusions though, author Pablo Hidalgo is known for enjoying being secretive so it’s more likely he’s invented scenes similar to, but not quite the same as, ones from future episodes.

Just to be safe and not spoil anything for myself, I chose not to read the last page! I’ll go back to read it after Season 1 of Star Wars Rebels is finished.

By the way, Star Wars Rebels starts in just a few weeks on Disney XD and affiliate networks (like Family Channel here in Canada) so check your local listings!
-Chris @SWKidscast

Other recommended Star Wars books by Pablo Hidalgo:

Friday, September 5, 2014

Star Wars Kidscast Episode 11: Small Screen Themes

Star Wars Kidscast is back with a fun, new episode. With the recent release of the the theme music to the upcoming Star Wars Rebels series we thought it would be interesting to look back and listen to EVERY intro to every Star Wars TV show (so far). Which show had two different theme songs? Which show didn’t have a theme song at all? Find out here!

Also, we look at new releases on the bookshelf including Star Wars Workbooks, Star Wars Rebels tie-ins and Tom Angleberger’s latest (and final) Origami Yoda book: Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus.

All that and more on this episode of the Star Wars Kidscast!

Twitter @SWKidscast

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Read, You Must: These Aren't The Droids You're Looking For

The easiest way to describe Scholastic’s new LEGO Star Wars: These Aren't the Droids You're Looking For would be to call it a LEGO Star Wars take on the popular Where’s Waldo books (or Where’s Wally outside of North America). This “Search-and-Find” book puts you on the hunt, scouring 30 colourful pages of crowded Star Wars scenes looking for tiny, often hilarious, details or spotting differences from page to page.

IG-88's big scene!
The title and cover are correct: despite the close-up on C-3PO and R2-D2, those are not the droids you’re looking for. The title (famously spoken by Obi-Wan Kenobi as he tricked stormtroopers in Mos Eisley) refers to the fact that in each picture you are hunting for the bounty hunter droid IG-88. Good thing they provide a reference picture and info because IG-88 only appears briefly in Episode V among the other bounty hunters hired by Darth Vader to find the Millennium Falcon. It’s an obscure character to centre a 2014 children’s book around, but no matter, there’s plenty else to find once you’ve located the “evil droid”.

It should've been Where's WATTO!
Hey I found Wald! Oh, wrong guy?
The humour fits right in with the LEGO Star Wars TV shows and the more you scour these pictures the more funny bits there are to discover. Some of the gags are very clear while others are miniscule and almost hidden. 

Look hard enough at these detailed crowd scenes and you’ll spot gungans frozen in carbonite, wampas making snowmen, clone troopers reading Star Wars books and a LOT of pizza...from “Pizza Hutt”, of course. 

Even if you don’t want to put the effort into playing detective you can enjoy these action-packed, imaginative takes on famous Star Wars scenes.

LEGO Star Wars: These Aren't the Droids You're Looking For is a lot of fun and is recommended for ages 7 and up, but if your youngling is younger than that then I imagine they’d still get a lot of enjoyment out of this book. Perhaps any further such books could have a few more scenes. This one left me wanting more!

- Chris @SWKidscast

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