Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Force Will Be With Leia, Always

With the sudden passing of Carrie Fisher, the beloved Princess Leia aka. General Organa, it's good to remember her many accomplishments over her 60 years. Much of her non-Star Wars work isn't really intended for kids though and she was infamous for her often inappropriate (but always witty) humour.

Aside from acting, Carrie Fisher was among other things a successful writer in Hollywood and author of several books. Unfortunately she never wrote specifically for a young audience, or wrote anything in the Star Wars galaxy. 

It seems fitting then to do the next best thing and to pay tribute to her here by looking back on some kid-friendly books that give her most famous character the spotlight she deserves.

Over the years, publishers - much like toy makers - have usually focused on the male characters like Luke, Han, Anakin, (even Boba Fett got a whole series of middle-grade novels!) but the list of Leia-centred titles is unfortunately not very long, and only in recent years has it seemed to grow. 

However there are a few gems focused on her so here are some books Leia fans should have in their collections:
Princess Leia: Royal Rebel (Scholastic 2016) Just released a few weeks ago, this chapter book by Calliope Glass (Ill. by Joe Quinones) retells the whole Leia story as it is known to this point, including events of Star Wars Rebels and The Force Awakens. Read our full review here.

I Am a Princess (Little Golden Books 2016) Courtney B. Carbone (Ill. by Heather Martinez) The Little Golden Books finished their adaptations of the Star Wars movies then moved to a series focusing on different types of characters (I Am a Pilot, I Am a Droid, etc.) and their places in the galaxy. I Am a Princess shows how unconventional Leia is in her role as royalty in this retro-style picture book.
Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure (Disney/Lucasfilm 2015) This middle-grade novel by Cecil Castellucci & Jason Fry (Ill. by Phil Noto) starts and ends around the time of The Force Awakens but the bulk of the story is an adventure Leia undertakes years earlier. Read our full review here. See also Leia and the Great Island Escape, a brand-new picture book version of the same adventure.

Star Wars: Princess Leia (Marvel 2015) soon after Marvel Comics started publishing Star Wars comics for the first time in decades, they announced that Leia would be getting her own mini-series. That story of her search for survivors from her home planet of Alderaan has now been collected and released in a paperback edition.
Vader's Little Princess (Chronicle Books 2013) Jeffrey Brown's follow-up to Darth Vader and Son is another humourous look at the alternate galaxy where Vader embraces his role as Leia and Luke's dad. This time more of the jokes focus on Vader raising a daughter.

Star Wars Journal: Captive to Evil by Princess Leia Organa  (Scholastic 1998) credited on the cover as written by Leia herself (actually written by frequent Star Wars author Jude Watson) this book was part of a series of journals written by the characters of Star Wars.

Princess Leia: Rebel Leader (Golden Books 1997) summarizes Leia's role in the major events of Episodes 4-6 with comic-book style illustrations by Ken Steacy.

What are your favourite Leia stories? Did we miss a book you love? Comment below!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Read, You Must: Best Books of 2016!

With only weeks left in 2016 it’s time to go back and revisit our favourite Star Wars books from the past 11.5 months. It’s been a fantastic year for Star Wars books for kids (and we haven't even seen the Rogue One books yet!) but some really stand out...

Our pick for BEST BOOK 2016!

Best of the Year: Star Wars: The Original Trilogy (A Graphic Novel) ! This book gets our top honour for a number of reasons. It is accessible to the widest age range, it is faithful to the movies yet fun and creative in its own ways, and it's just really cool! Read our review here, add it to your list and also look forward to the Prequel Trilogy graphic novel coming in 2017!

Micheal Kogge’s adaptation of Star Wars: The Force Awakens A Junior Novel is an entertaining and fast-paced version of the movie, including a few moments not seen onscreen. Some grown-ups even prefer it to the “adult” adaptation. Relive the story in this great retelling.

Intended for the teenage YA crowd, Ahsoka by E K Johnston fills the gaps for fans of Anakin’s former apprentice between her departure from the Jedi Order (in The Clone Wars) to her involvement in the Rebellion (Star Wars Rebels). 

Star Wars Complete Locations is an amazingly detailed overview of the fascinating places and spaces of the Star Wars movies. Read our review here.

In 2015, Random House re-launched Star Wars “Little Golden Books” with fantastic retro artwork and age-appropriate adaptations of the first 6 movies. They continued the series into 2016 with The Force Awakens and new titles like I am a Princess & I am a Sith. The series is going strong and hopefully we can look forward to Rogue One titles too!

A last-minute addition to this list is Princess Leia: Royal Rebel, a chapter-book biography of Leia that gathers all the most up-to-date info on the Rebel leader into one story. Look for a Vader book in this series in 2017!

Star Wars: Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens vol. 1 didn’t get the attention it deserved. This middle-grade collection of short stories is full of weird and wonderful moments. Landry Q. Walker’s dives deep into a few of the background characters of The Force Awakens. Give this one another look!

Updated and/or Expanded books

DK’s amazing Star Wars: Year by Year was revised in 2016 making either version absolute must-haves for a Star Wars fan family. Pop culture shapes Star Wars and Star Wars shapes pop culture in a fun, accessible, visual and factual feast for almost any aged fan to enjoy.

Star Wars Character Encyclopedia, specifically expanded to include plenty of The Force Awakens chatacters, this book is light on details but a great quick reference for a LOT of Star Wars characters.

A late addition to the list Star Wars Galactic Maps! Released in the final days of 2016 this book is really worth exploring!


Honourable Mentions

Not quite 2016: Much like what we’ll see next week and beyond for Rogue One, a lot of great books came out right at the end of December 2015 to tie-in with The Force Awakens.

What was your favourite Star Wars book of 2016? Did we miss your favourites? Comment below!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

More Outdoor Winter Play, the Star Wars Way!

Since 1977, re-enacting scenes from Star Wars has been a fun outdoor activity for kids. Depending on where you live though, it might take a little more imagination for some moments!

If you live near a forest then it is easy to recreate the battle of Endor. If you live near swamps then you have an instant Dagobah for Jedi training with Yoda! If you happen have a sandy desert area nearby suddenly you can imagine you’re podracing on Tatooine or stealing the Millennium Falcon from Unkar Plutt on Jakku.
Mittens? I don't even need a jacket!

Then there’s winter…

A while back we looked at playing out the snowy scenes of Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back and parts of The Clone Wars. Since then, The Force Awakens has introduced several new “cool” scenes to kids who don’t mind a little cold weather.

Whether you get your lightsabers out and duel in the snow, or bring your action figures outside and hope they don’t get lost until spring, here’s a few ideas for more outdoor winter play the Star Wars way!

In the movie Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren face off in an epic winter lightsaber fight. Finn starts trying his skills with the lightsaber but it’s Rey who really challenges Kylo during the snowy battle.

Starkiller Base itself offers many wintery moments, from the crash of the Falcon to Han, Chewie and Finn trying to get inside. If you think the Force will keep you warm though, remember Han’s words there: “That’s not how the Force works!"

Or you could recreate General Hux’s passionate speech about the First Order, though you may need a lot of friends to be the Stormtroopers! Perhaps a few of the troops could be snowmen?
Do you want to build a snowtrooper?
The deleted scenes from The Force Awakens (available on the bluray) provide even more inspiration for fun, including a snow-speeder chase that did not make it into the final movie.

Here she'll wear a jacket!

May the Force be with you, however you play Star Wars this winter!


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