Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Force Awakens Retold Many Ways

With young readers in mind, several recent books have retold the entire story of Star Wars: The Force Awakens!

Tailored to various ages and reading levels, each has a slightly different perspective on events seen in the film. Many fans will want to read them all!

For the youngest readers, Little Golden Books has just released its The Force Awakens book to go along with the many other recent Little Golden Books Star Wars titles (Reviews here and here). The story is brisk and the art is kid-friendly, cartoony and very retro-cool! This is a fun addition to any collection. It is adapted by Christopher Nicholas and illustrated by Caleb Meurer and Micky Rose.

Speaking of retro-cool, read-along books have been around since they came with little vinyl records, then cassettes and eventually CDs. You can enjoy The Force Awakens Read-Along Storybook and CD just fine without the CD: Elizabeth Schaefer condenses the events into a quick read and Brian Rood's illustrations capture the key scenes of the story. However, the CD really expands the experience with music, sound effects, and dialogue right from the movie.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens storybook - also written by Elizabeth Schaefer - really lets the artwork shine as it's almost a coffee-table book of Brian Rood's amazing art. Some same images from the Read-Along book and several other Early Readers appear here along with many, many more pictures - some not seen elsewhere. Schaefer has more room to tell the story in detail here too. Together they make this book a real treasure!

The most in-depth version for young readers is the middle-grade chapter book Star Wars: The Force Awakens A Junior Novel. Author Michael Kogge retells the movie and even adds a few new moments and scenes that help connect the tale with the book Before the Awakening. It is a very entertaining and enjoyable version of the story. The drama, excitement and humour are all here!

However or wherever you are - May the Force Awakens Be With You! 

Update: Scholastic Books' LEGO Star Wars The Force Awakens is also available now, and a lot of fun!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Rey: Putting the Puzzle Together

The Force Awakens gave Star Wars fans PLENTY to enjoy but also left a lot of questions unanswered. The mystery of Rey especially has captivated fans and been the subject of much debate. We know she says she's waiting for her family, but who exactly? And why is she there without them?

While we await answers to come in Episode 8 (let's hope!) here’s a look what books to read to piece together what is available to know about Rey so far. (All of these titles are suitable for middle-grade readers.)

In Before the Awakening, nearly a third of the book is a story starring Rey shortly before The Force Awakens. Readers will get a good feel of how difficult day-to-day life is for a young scavenger on Jakku. This story emphasizes the challenges of Rey having no friends to trust and no one to turn to. She truly is on her own.  The story also details how it is that Rey knows so much about flying starships even though she’s never left the planet. 

In a different way Rey’s Survival Guide covers a lot of the same information found in Before the Awakening – with a lot more little nuggets and facts to discover. Instead of a story in chapters, here the details are written as notes and comments like a scrapbook or journal. This one has plenty of illustrations too. It also leads directly into the events of The Force Awakens.

Every young Star Wars fan should read The Force Awakens Junior Novelization too. If you’ve seen the movie there’s no big surprises here, but it's a very entertaining way to re-experience the story. Above that, there is an extra scene of Rey! In the movie as Rey meets BB-8 she tells the droid “in the morning, you go”. The next time they’re on screen it’s already morning. In this book readers get a short scene of Rey and BB-8’s one night together before meeting Finn.

For some reason this little scene is not in Rey’s Story, a complete re-telling of The Force Awakens entirely focused on Rey. Readers don’t really get into Rey’s thoughts but are alongside her for the adventure. If you want to focus on Rey's story, well, Rey's Story is the best place to turn to!

If you prefer your information in a more get-to-the-point way, check out The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary and the newly updated Star Wars Character Encyclopedia. Both terrific books contain details about Rey and life on Jakku.

Yes that’s a lot of reading, but it’s certainly entertaining reading! Enjoy all these titles and hopefully more to come as the mystery of Rey becomes revealed!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Read, You Must: Star Wars Character Encyclopedia

On bookshelves now from DK Publishing is the newly updated Star Wars Character Encyclopedia. The cover should make it clear that this edition contains plenty of information on characters and situations from The Force Awakens.

The Star Wars Character Encyclopedia gives one full-colour, individual fact-sheet for over 220 characters. Whether they are pivotal to the Star Wars Saga like Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader, or very obscure “blink-and-you-miss-it” background aliens like Sarco Plank or Bobbajo, everyone and everything is equal here.

For this edition by Simon Beecroft and Pablo Hidalgo there are over 35 completely new characters profiled. Many more have been updated like General Leia Organa and Han Solo too. Even characters not appearing in The Force Awakens have been updated (like Jango Fett) to reflect new information or clarifications.

There are many pages that are nearly identical in the previous edition, but there are so many new characters here that this book could almost be called Star Wars Character Encyclopedia Volume II

No single book could possibly include EVERY Star Wars character, and this one sticks to only on those from the movies. Characters only seen in The Clone Wars or Star Wars Rebels do not appear in here (The Clone Wars has its own character encyclopedia). Despite it being very clear on the cover this is a The Force Awakens-focused update there is one notable character not here – the mysterious Supreme Leader Snoke. Why no Snoke? It would probably be a frustratingly blank page!

Will there be a Rogue One version coming soon? Hard to tell but that movie certainly will introduce many new, exciting characters to Star Wars.

The Star Wars Character Encyclopedia is for fans wanting a quick overview of many characters in an easily accessible format. If you’re looking for in-depth details, you’ll want to dive into Ultimate Star Wars, The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary and other great reference books. (Publisher's Recommendation: Ages 7 - 10 years)

Also still available & full of great info

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