Sunday, December 20, 2015

Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Young Star Wars Readers!

Looking for a few last-minute gift ideas for a youngling on your list? There's a safe bet they don't have any of these books, all released December 18, 2015 to coincide with The Force Awakens. Hot off the press comes some terrific gifts for young Star Wars fans, assuming they've seen the film already. Warning: these books contain spoilers!

From DK comes The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary and Incredible Cross-Sections. Both are coffee-table sized books filled with beautiful visuals from the film. If you love extremely detailed looks at the vehicles and spaceships then Cross-Sections books are for you. The Visual Dictionary covers more about the characters. Both are pretty terrific books though.

Until the junior novel of the movie comes out next year there are a few story books from Disney Press to tide over an avid young reader.  A middle-grade novel in three parts, Before the Awakening by Greg Rucka tells the stories of what Finn, Rey and Poe were up to shortly before the events of the movie.

Also from Disney comes 5-Minute Star Wars Stories, a collection of comically illustrated stories based on the events of all seven Star Wars movies, including two from The Force Awakens. Some of the material here has been previously seen as World of Reading early reader books. The artwork is fun, exciting and light-hearted and the stories are, as the title suggests, very short for quick reads.

Still full of illustrations but intended for stronger readers comes Rey's Survival Guide from Studio Fun, a journal-like book as if written by Rey herself, much like these Star Wars Rebels books.

For a bit of silly fun also check out Star War Mix & Match where you can not only swap costumes and weapons of the major characters but also story elements to create a very different, often absurd version of the movie!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Star Wars Stars on Sesame Street!

For decades Sesame Street has been a respected and popular TV program for young children around the world. Over the years many celebrities have dropped by to join in the fun. There have been many connections between The Muppets and Star Wars over the years (here's a blog I wrote on that for Did you know that several of your favourite performers from Star Wars films have been guests on Sesame Street? Whether it was before their Star Wars fame or after, Sesame Street has often welcomed visitors from a galaxy far, far away! See part II of this blog here!
Padme might be also known as Queen Amidala, but one of her Sesame Street appearances she starts off as the princess, playing a game called "The Princess and the Elephant" with Elmo. Perhaps our favourite Queen of the Naboo doesn’t want to be a Princess after all...

Lupita Nyong'o may not be familiar to young Star Wars fans just yet, but she's in The Force Awakens ! She’ll be somewhat unrecognizable as the alien Maz Kanata but here she is (in human form) - also with Elmo - talking about skin...

Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon Jinn) has also visited Sesame Street more than once. Here he dramatically counts to twenty with The Count! 

If you don’t recognize this man’s face you’re sure to recognize his infamous voice! That’s James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader himself in this vintage clip. Jones is sure intense when he’s brushing up on his ABC’s!

While were going way back, here's Billy Dee Williams (aka Lando Calrissian) counting backwards...
Actors aren't the only ones visiting the Street's the droids C-3PO and R2-D2 meeting Big Bird: 

While we're enjoying Star Wars actors visiting Sesame Street you can also enjoy Sesame Street doing it's own version of Star Wars here:


Got a favourite Star Wars moment we missed? Let us know in the comments below! And visit part II of this blog here!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Read, You Must: Star Wars Rebels Visual Guide: Epic Battles

For anyone who has read my previous reviews of Star Wars books from DK Publishing you’ll notice I often use words like “beautiful” and “gorgeous”. At the risk of repeating myself, here’s yet another title from DK that is worthy of those adjectives!

In this case most of the beauty in Star Wars Rebels Visual Guide: Epic Battles should be credited to the talented artists who make Star Wars Rebels though. This book is page after page of key scenes from the Disney XD show including some parts of Season 2. If you want a collection of detailed images from Rebels, this is for you!

However there’s much more to it than a visual feast as author Adam Bray (Star Wars Rebels The Visual Guide, What Makes a Monster?, Ultimate Star Wars) provides the insights, trivia and commentary alongside the action.

This 144 page hardcover book gives an in-depth look at the events of Rebels Season 1 and even provides several peeks at characters, ships and action from Season 2. For some places (like here in Canada) the second season just finally started, so there’s more than a few moments here that haven't even aired yet!

The 1st Rebels Visual Guide
My only complaint, and it's a minor one, is the title: beyond being more than a mouthful, there really are no "epic battles" in Rebels. It is a show about how a small rebellion begins to grow into a larger, galaxy-wide Rebel Alliance against the Empire. So far viewers have certainly seen conflict, but calling anything so far in Rebels an "epic battle" makes it hard to imagine how to then describe the Battle of Geonosis or the Battle of Endor! Now THOSE are EPIC!

Forget the title, just enjoy the show and enjoy this book! Highly recommended for fans of Star Wars Rebels of any age!

Also by Adam Bray:

Did you know author Adam Bray was a guest on our podcast? Check out this episode from last year!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Read, You Must: The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure

The most obvious question to a Star Wars fan looking at the official The Force Awakens poster (or any of the promotional material released so far) is: Where is Luke Skywalker? 

Fear not! Luke will certainly be in the new movie, but what he’s up to or where he is has been a carefully guarded secret so far. It seems even the characters of the movie will be asking the same question too. 

Where is Luke Skywalker?

If you’ve read The Weapon of a Jedi, you probably have a pretty good guess to the answer!

Before we get to that part, let’s back up a little. Disney Book Group and Lucasfilm Press have released three all-new middle-grade hardcover novels featuring some of the biggest names in the Star Wars saga! Luke, Princess Leia, and Han Solo with Chewbacca get their own tales in this set, part of a number of books published as Journey to The Force Awakens. Smuggler’s Run, The Weapon of a Jedi and Moving Target are adventures that take place between the events of the original trilogy movies. 

The three books also contain scenes set just before the events of The Force Awakens, so they each provide little hints and suggestions of what could be in the upcoming movie. Whether its introducing new characters, planets, alien species or droids, each story has some aspect never seen before on film, but likely to appear onscreen come December 17.

The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure is a story of Luke, shortly after blowing up the first Death Star, being called by the Force to a mysterious and dangerous place. His visions bring him to the planet Devaron where he feels he must find and explore some ancient temple ruins. Unfortunately that place is strictly off-limits, so getting there and getting inside both prove to be challenges in this exciting story. Once he’s inside, Luke finds some answers but also many new questions.

The 184-page story is “told” by C-3P0 as a bit of Luke’s history to young Resistance pilot Jessika Pava, a new character who will also be in the upcoming movie. She is interested in knowing more about the legendary Luke Skywalker. The opening and closing feature C-3P0 and Pava, while the rest of the book is all about young Luke’s journey and discoveries.

Farnay tries to join the fray!
One new character, Farnay - a Devaronian woman, plays an important role in the story but it certainly feels like there’s much more to her than revealed here.

Add a scavenger to your collection!
Another new character in this story, Sarco Plank, is already available as an action figure for The Force Awakens, so certainly he’ll be in the film somewhere too albeit much older, and hopefully nicer!

Author Jason Fry (Servants of the Empire series, Moving Target, Jupiter Pirates) has created an engaging and thought-provoking adventure. The occasional illustrations by artist Phil Noto are also terrific in all three of these books.

But back to that burning question: Where is Luke Skywalker?

Without giving too much away, Luke only manages to learn a few secrets about this mysterious temple before he must leave. As he departs he makes a solemn vow to return. Obviously he didn’t have much time during the next few years what with his training on Dagobah, rescuing Han Solo and fights with the Emperor! After that though? For the next few weeks it’s anybody’s guess where Luke has spent his time.

By the end of this book it’s clear that Luke later made good on his promise and returned to the temple ruins to unlock its mysteries. 

Perhaps he’s still there when the Force awakens…

(Publisher's Recommendation: For Ages 10 - 14 years)

Other books by Jason Fry: 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Read, You Must: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know

DK Books has done it again with another terrific book for young Star Wars fans. The publisher of Star Wars In 100 Scenes and Ultimate Star Wars are really on a roll!

At the risk of sounding repetitive (see our previous book reviews) Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know is a 200 page collection of images from the Star Wars films and TV shows that explodes with trivia, insights and details. The information comes from a team of great writers who all happen to be enthusiastic fans themselves: Adam Bray (Star Wars Rebels The Visual Guide), Cole Horton (, Kerrie Dougherty (Star Wars Complete Vehicles), Michael Kogge (Star Wars Rebels: Rise of the Rebels) cover each spread with facts and figures. Some are important story details, some are obscure and some are very bizarre indeed.

The key difference between this book and the recent Ultimate Star Wars is this book is meant to be just as much fun as it is informative. It’s organized into categories, but you can open this book at any page and learn something about the Star Wars universe, or find some new reason to smile at the oddities and curiosities of the galaxy far, far away.

Right from its ridiculous title (that no single book could actually live up to) this book never takes things too seriously and presents fun facts and info in a way that’s clearly for young fans. If you want a basic reference book on Star Wars plenty of those exist already (see aforementioned Ultimate Star Wars), but if you want to have a few laughs while you learn, this is the book for you!

This book was also released as part of the “Journey to the Force Awakens” line. There isn’t much information revealed here about the upcoming movie, but bits and pieces of it show up throughout the book and there’s a section at the back of several full-page The Force Awakens images.

Don’t be surprised though to see Absolutely Everything You Need to Know being used as the basis for trivia contests for the foreseeable future!

Recommended for fans 8 - 12 years old.


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