Friday, December 2, 2016

Read, You Must: Princess Leia: Royal Rebel!

If you’ve seen the Star Wars movies then you already know a lot about Princess Leia Organa, later known as General Organa by the time of The Force Awakens. However there’s also plenty of other details of her adventures to be learned through further reading!

A new book in Scholastic’s “Backstories” series, the first Star Wars title in the set, pieces together these tales into one chronological life story.

Princess Leia: Royal Rebel is a 128 page biographical chapter book by Calliope Glass (co-author of ABC-3PO) and illustrated throughout by comic artist Joe Quinones. It’s a great way to catch up on Leia’s official story.

Starting during the Clone Wars era, the story explains - in an age-appropriate way - the dark circumstances of how Leia came to be adopted by Bail and Breha Organa of Alderaan. Glass then moves forward with details of young Leia’s life, details that have been previously revealed over the past few years in Marvel Comics’ Princess Leia series and Leia’s season 2 appearance on Star Wars Rebels.
Young Leia and her family on Alderaan

As she grows into adulthood, the events of Episodes 4, 5 & 6 unfold from Leia’s perspective. Along the way, gaps in time are filled by more adventures from the Marvel comic series and from the middle-grade novel Moving Target.

It’s great to have a book like this because many interested young readers may not be quite ready to tackle Moving Target or to read the Teen-rated comic books yet, but will still want to know what happened outside of the movies.

Marvel's Princess Leia
Little is known about Leia between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, and according to this book, she likes it that way. Privacy is hard to come by for a Princess and a Rebel leader!

What is known is that somewhere in there she and Han Solo married and had one child, Ben Solo, who later turned to the Dark Side and called himself Kylo Ren! Also in that time, Leia was the key leader in forming the Resistance. It’s quite a life she’s had, and nobody knows at this point what events may take place in Episode 8 or beyond!

Leia on a mission between Episode 4 & 5
The story flows well despite the jumps in time as it incorporates the details from different sources. Recent chapter books like Rey’s Story and Finn’s Story have done a similar thing but are limited because they have far less official information available to include.

This book is a little closer to the wonderful biographical middle grade novels Scholastic published a few years ago like The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader and The Life and Legend of Obi-Wan Kenobi (both by Ryder Windham, 2008) which also pulled details together from multiple movies and other sources.

Quinones’ many black and white illustrations add to tie the story together. The artwork is somewhat similar to the pictures in the terrific Han Solo “Adventures in Hyperspace” chapter books (2010), also written by Ryder Windham (and also from Scholastic publishing). The cover artwork is by the amazing Phil Noto (illustrator of Moving Target, Weapon of a Jedi, and more!)

It’s great to see Scholastic publishing Star Wars chapter books again, and they picked a fantastic place to start with Princess Leia: Royal Rebel!

(Publisher’s Recommendation: Ages 8 – 12)

Coming soon in this series: Darth Vader: Sith Lord!

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