Saturday, February 28, 2015

Read, You Must: Star Wars Rebels Journals

Would you let someone else read your diary? Two new books present young readers the private thoughts of key Star Wars Rebels characters.

Rebel Journal by Ezra Bridger and Sabine: My Rebel Sketchbook (both actually written by Daniel Wallace) are two heavily illustrated, middle-grade hardcovers out now. Both books are more like scrapbooks than straight diaries and are full of images from the TV show, fun and insightful comments, new artwork, some fold-out pages and lift-flaps of clippings “taped” in. 

Ezra’s Rebel Journal comments on the events leading up to him first meeting the rest of the Ghost crew, even touching on some of the action in Ryder Windham’s excellent Ezra’s Gamble novel. Sabine’s My Rebel Sketchbook tells the story of much of season one of Star Wars Rebels from her point of view. Her book has much more emphasis on her paintings and sketches than writing, which suits her.
A Peek Inside Sabine's Sketchbook

Studio Fun Books has created two entertaining and engaging books for young readers who still like a lot of visuals. As mentioned before, both books are written by Daniel Wallace, author of the journal-like series The Jedi Path, Book of Sith and The Bounty Hunter Code. Wallace does a great job of making both books feel like they really could be written by the characters.

Ezra's "Actual" Journal
It must’ve been a challenge to write authentically in teen-aged voices knowing that these books were intended for pre-teen and younger kids. A real diary from a rebellious teenager would likely be inappropriate for younger readers. In fact both books, as age-appropriate as they are, endorse activities that could get kids into trouble. Thankfully Sabine doesn’t get too detailed in her description of making explosions!

The other challenge for the author is that the characters can only reveal things, even in their own private journals, that the TV show's audience already knows. A few revelations would’ve been nice to see, particularly considering the mysterious history of both characters. In the show, Ezra also clearly has some sort of romantic feelings for the older teen Sabine. It would’ve been nice for at least one of them to comment on this. Perhaps they’ll both get a Volume 2?

The look and design of both books is wonderful and the artwork is particularly stunning in Sabine’s sketchbook. This is thanks to artist Annie Stoll who not only creates beautiful pieces, also has a lot of fun “modifying” Imperial posters, as Sabine would. Ezra is surprisingly a talented artist himself, as his sketches (by Andrew Barthelmes) illustrate his journal.

Whether you want to revisit the events of the first few episodes of Rebels from these characters’ own perspectives, want a very cool-looking collection of Rebels artwork at a reasonable price, or both, these books are a great addition to any Star Wars Rebels fan’s library.

Publisher's recommendation Gr. 1 - 6 reading level.

Did you know: these are not the first Star Wars characters to have diaries?

An earlier series of books (now out-of-print) from Scholastic Books published the diaries of Luke, Leia and Han...

and then later Queen Amidala, Anakin and Darth Maul too!

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