Friday, October 5, 2018

Read You Must: Star Wars Search Your Feelings

From the creative team that brought us ABC-3PO and Obi-One, Two, Three comes Seach Your Feelings, a poetry-filled exploration of the wide range of emotions experienced by humans, aliens and droids alike, brand new from Disney-Lucasfilm Press.

Starting with events from The Phantom Menace (Anakin destroying the Trade Federation Droid Control Ship while flying a Naboo starfighter to demonstrate "Excited"), Calliope Glass & Caitlin Kennedy have created a 48 page, (mainly) chronological look at the Star Wars saga in short verse poems. 

Each poem has it's own emotional theme, like Jealous, Hopeful, Calm, Surprised or Frustrated, as they flow right to the ending of The Last Jedi.

With plenty of humour and love of the Star Wars saga, the poems contextualize each feeling to a particular familiar moment from the films; the infamous trash compactor scene (Disgusted), a tantrum by Kylo Ren (Angry) and most poignantly, Luke Skywalker in exile (Lonely).

For every feeling, there is a two-page illustration by the fabulous Katie Cook. Her incredibly cute (yet still authentic) take on Star Wars characters give this book an added layer of levity. Yet somehow Cook's illustrations deepen the emotional impact of certain moments too: C-3PO has never looked sadder than he does on the "Sad" page.

Despite the adorable style of Cook's illustrations, and the obvious subject of emotions, this book is a lot of fun and probably a lot more accessible to kids than many books about feelings. It's all about feelings, of course, but it doesn't seem very "touchy-feely", if that makes any sense.
Search Your Feelings, and explore this book today!

Publisher's Recommendation: Ages 6 & up 

Also available:

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Read, You Must: The Last Jedi A Junior Novel

With October being Star Wars Reads month, we're going to try to get caught up on reading and reviewing as many Star Wars books as possible. Let's face it, with The Last Jedi and Solo coming out so close together, there have been ALMOST too many new books to handle in the past year. Almost, because really is there such a thing as "too much Star Wars"? Nope.

Released earlier this year, months after the movie release, The Last Jedi A Junior Novel is a great way for middle-grade readers to look at the film from a different perspective.

With 202 pages, author Michael Kogge (The Force Awakens Junior Novel, Poe Dameron: Flight Log) offers a surprisingly serious and powerful take on the Rian Johnson screenplay. "Surprisingly serious" only because his take on The Force Awakens was so much fun to read. This time the adventure is there, but the story feels much more complex and at times somber, which is appropriate for the tone of this particular Star Wars movie.

Kogge doesn't try to gloss over or lighten up the story for young readers. Instead the author treats the story very seriously, sticking very closely to the screenplay, and respects that kids can handle the situations as presented. Nothing jumped out as missing from the movie-to-book translation, so if any key moments were omitted, they must not have been very crucial after all.

Readers will notice a few moments sprinkled throughout that are not from seen in the film, but are in most cases seen in the blu-ray Deleted Scenes. These are the "Exclusive Scenes" advertised on the cover.

The Last Jedi A Junior Novel also contains 8 pages of colour photos from the movie, which is always a fun bonus!

Basically if you loved The Last Jedi but don't get to watch it very often, here's a way to relive the movie whenever you like!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Read, You Must: Star Wars The Complete Visual Dictionary New Edition

Longtime readers of this site know how much we love the visual guides published by DK that accompany each Star Wars movie. For example here are our reviews of the Rogue One, The Last Jedi and Solo visual guide books.

These books are always packed with incredible photos of aliens, creatures, droids, weapons, costumes and props from the films, as well as hours of detailed information to devour.

Star Wars The Complete Visual Dictionary - New Edition is a hefty title for a hefty book! It is a combination of the most of the contents of the guide books for Episodes 1-8, includes material from Rogue One and a small amount from Solo. For a relatively new fan of the saga ready to dive into the minute details of the films, this 350+ page compendium is an amazing collection of information and images, and is absolutely required reading!

Instead of a simple reprint of each book with text updates, this book combines the images from different movies where appropriate. For example, the Rebel Alliance pilots of Rogue One and A New Hope are combined as one cohesive group. As well, since The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi occur so close to each other, there's no need for two separate entries for characters like Captian Phasma, BB-8 and General Hux.

Fans of The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels may be disappointed that very little material from those series has made it in here, unlike the recent DK book Encyclopedia of Starfighters and Other Vehicles, which showcased images from across the films and TV shows. The only images connected to Rebels, for example, are those of Chopper as the cantankerous droid appears in Rogue One, albeit very briefly.

If you haven't already acquired the visual guides for the individual movies, then this book is absolutely a must-have!

If you already have the individual guides, the price tag may put this one in the "wish list" category. 
Either way, once this book is in your hands you will certainly spend many hours going through it!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Don't Be Scared of Are You Scared, Darth Vader?

Don't be scared of some silliness in your Star Wars!

Since Halloween itself is not really a thing in the Star Wars Galaxy (that we know of), there hasn't really been a lot of Halloweeny Star Wars storytelling over the years. There have been spooky Star Wars stories, like the 90's Galaxy of Fear book series, but Disney/Lucasfilm Press has now released what is arguably the first Star Wars Halloween picture book.

Are You Scared, Darth Vader? by New York Times bestselling author/illustrator Adam Rex tries to answer the question of what could possibly scare the most terrifying villain in the galaxy.

Spoiler alert: not much!

Darth Vader lurks in a dark, gloomy, Dagobah-like swamp while the narrator taunts him with various not-very-scary things, trying to find the one thing that may frighten the Dark Lord of the Sith. Then others join in, more from the world of classic horror movies than from Star Wars, to try to scare him.

Things get really silly and fun but it's difficult to describe without revealing a few of the surprises that await the reader. 

On a quick flip-through this appears to be a bleak, even dismal, looking book. However, the escalating attempts to scare Vader, along with his deadpan responses, are really enjoyable in contrast to the darkness. Clearly it would help if someone in your household can talk like Vader when reading this one aloud! 

Rex's not-very-scary monster artwork is reminiscent of early MAD magazine cartoonists like Harvey Kurtzman and Jack Davis. High praise indeed!

Forget about this book fitting into the rest of Star Wars. It doesn't. Are You Scared, Darth Vader? exists in its own little world. It almost feels like it could be dialogue from brave kids meeting Darth Vader at Disneyland. 

This book is the Star Wars equivalent to a "Fractured Fairy Tale".

Have a laugh and enjoy this twisted take on classic characters. Happy (early) Halloween!

Since we always like to remember Star Wars books from the past, here's a few items that could also almost be considered Star Wars Halloween books...

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Canadians in Star Wars!

Star Wars began as an American movie, filmed mostly in the UK, with mostly American & British cast, crew and everything else. 

Mostly, but not all. A few of us Canadians sneak in there now and then too!

If you follow our Twitter @SWKidscast or facebook @StarWarsKidscast accounts (please do if you don't already!) you may already know this. Over the past week or so we've been celebrating one Canadian contribution to Star Wars each day as we count down to Canada Day (July 1).

There are far more notable Canadian contributors than we realized and should've started this much earlier! However, there's always next year. And please let us know if we missed somebody! And use the hashtag #StarWarsEh

Here's a recap of week one of our celebration...
Anakin/Vader actor Hayden Christensen!

E.K. Johnston, author of Ahsoka!

Biggs Darklighter was Canadian!

Catherine Winder was vital in shaping The Clone Wars

Gone too early, but not forgotten. Artist Gene Day.

This includes a LOT of hardworking, talented people!

Lucasfilm's (and Winnipeg's) Pablo Hidalgo

Thursday, June 14, 2018

LEGO Star Wars: Choose Your Path

"Be the Hero, Discover the Galaxy!"

What path will you choose? LEGO Star Wars fans will certainly enjoy
LEGO Star Wars: Choose Your Path, a new book from DK publishing, written by Simon Hugo (Star Wars Insider magazine).

From the first page readers make a choice about what era of Star Wars they wish to explore in their adventure. 

The storyline choices are:

- "Hunt the Sith" with Obi-Wan Kenobi in the time of (roughly) Episodes 1 - 3

- "Fight the Empire" with Princess Leia in the time of Star Wars Rebels up to Episode 6

Comes with U-3PO minifig!
- "Defeat the First Order" with Rey in the time of Episodes 7 & 8

What follows is 120+ pages of full-colour LEGO Star Wars fun and a decision to make on each page. Like with other books with this story format (check out the recent Choose Your Destiny: Han & Chewie Adventure), decisions can certainly have dire consequences, or happy endings! There are more than 40 potential endings, and many ways to get there.

Your personal guide for this adventure is a silver protocol droid named U-3PO who will accompany the adventure for whichever storyline is chosen. There is also a glossary at the back for better understanding some of the uniquely Star Wars vocabulary words.

LEGO Star Wars: Choose Your Path is generally lighthearted and fun like most LEGO Star Wars books, games & shows. Some things happen a bit differently in the LEGO Star Wars galaxy than in the movies.

Although this book includes connections to the The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels characters, surprisingly there seems to be no inclusion of the Freemakers from the LEGO Star Wars The Freemaker Adventures TV show.

If you've never read this type of book before, the experience itself of flipping from one section to the next - all over the book - can feel like a wild goose chase itself. Reading a book structured this way is like more like playing a game than reading a novel.

It's an entertaining "game", but the back cover puts it a little more seriously though: "The fate of the galaxy is in your hands! Which path will you choose?"

Choose your path & have some fun with this book.

Publisher's recommendation: Ages 6-9

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Read, You Must: The Mighty Chewbacca in the Forest of Fear!

Author Tom Angleberger returns to the galaxy far, far away with an exciting and entertaining adventure novel The Mighty Chewbacca in the Forest of Fear!

Longtime readers of this blog know how much we love his best-selling Origami Yoda series of books. He has also written a young reader adaption of Return of the Jedi entitled Beware the Power of the Dark Side! We even had a chance to talk to him on our podcast a few years back.

Fear not! Despite the creepy title, fans of Angelberger's humour will not be disappointed with the The Mighty Chewbacca in the Forest of Fear!, and his love of the entire Star Wars galaxy shines here too.

Set between the events of the movies Solo and Rogue One, this 261-page middle-grade novel from Disney/Lucasfilm Press sends the beloved wookiee on a high-paying job that seems to good to be true. Turns out it's all a trick to accomplish a very dangerous mission for powerful, dishonest people.
Very dangerous cargo - TOOKAS!


Whatever you call it, stay away!
Chewbacca is separated from Han Solo and unwittingly teamed up with Rogue One's K-2SO, a young adventurer named Mayv, and a shipload of tookas - cat-like creatures seen in The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. What starts as an easy mission quickly becomes a run-for-your-life nightmare of creatures, bigger creatures, and then insanely big creatures!

Everyone seems to have a hidden agenda here, except for the mighty Chewbacca of course, and even those who seem to be working together have secret plans they hide from the team.

While this is really Chewbacca's story, most of the laughs come from the droid K-2SO with his deadpan commentary and inability (or unwillingness) to comprehend the behaviour of living things. Although Han Solo isn't the star here, fans will enjoy his part in the story and Rogue One's Cassian Andor is also key to this tale.

Many authors of Star Wars books have faced the challenge of how to reproduce Chewbacca's "talking" on a written page. Wookiee-speak, or "Shyriiwook", is very difficult to spell for readers! This is probably the main reason there have been very few books focusing on the beloved character over the past 40 years!

Angelberger has found a fun approach, making the narrator a central figure who speaks directly to the reader. He not only translates Chewie's many different growls and roars but also sneakily shares story details along the way. At times the reader knows more, sometimes much more, than the characters which helps build the excitement as they are about to get themselves in further trouble!

Fans of the recent Adventures in Wild Space series, or the classic Galaxy of Fear novels from the 1990's, will certainly appreciate the creepy chills and thrills hiding around every corner, or lurking in the next tree. The young team-member Mayv has to conquer terrors along the way that don't frighten wookiees (dangerous heights) or droids (hungry snarlers) and complete the mission for her own reasons.

The book contains a few exciting two-tone illustrations by Andie Tong, usually depicting the heroes of the story in escalating peril! The images leave the reader wishing there were just a couple of more pictures to enjoy along the way.

For those looking for connections to the Solo movie (this book was released in conjunction with the movie) the terrifying "snarlers" appear to be the same creatures referred to as Corellian Hounds, introduced onscreen in the early scenes in Solo.

If you're looking for a fun, exciting, funny, and occasionally scary adventure, The Mighty Chewbacca in the Forest of Fear! is certainly the book for you!
Highly recommended!

(Publisher's recommendation: Ages 8-12)

Also by Tom Angleberger

"At last we have the Mighty Chewbacca!" - Jabba the Hutt

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Read, You Must: Solo The Official Guide

With each new Star Wars movie, DK publishes a wonderful reference book full of photos of characters, weapons, ships, and environments. 

While the movie is still only available to see in a theatre, these books are the next best thing to being able to pause the movie and scrutinize the fascinating little details that go by too quickly. 

Lucasfilm's Pablo Hidalgo (The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary, Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide) takes readers on a 128 page tour of the brand-new locations and locals from the movie while noting links to the Star Wars we already know and love.

For fans young and old, Solo: A Star Wars Story is a movie bursting with connections to other movies, TV shows, comics and books. As Han travels from planet to planet across the galaxy, his adventures link up to all sorts of trivia for fans. Some of the connections are to places and things in books published over 30 years ago, while others refer to details mentioned in The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels.
Like previous "Visual Guide" and "Visual Dictionary" books, Solo: The Official Guide is page after page of colourful photos from the movie along with descriptions and context for each droid, alien, and just about everything else.

At the back there is also a cool section of behind-the-scenes artwork, photos and info for fans interested in the movie-making process.
Solo: A Star Wars Story The Official Guide is a wonderful companion to the film. It does share an unfortunate trait though with similar Star Wars reference books from the past. As these books are released simultaneously with the film, but published and distributed beforehand, there are always major moments of the film that for secrecy's sake don't end up in the book. For Solo, these come in the form of character reveals that, once you've seen the film, pose a lot more questions than are answered on-screen.

For example, it would've been wonderful to have an image of the Cloud-Riders with their helmets off, as they eventually are seen in the movie, along with more detailed info about them.

There's another example late in the movie that certainly begs for elaboration but we'll leave that one for another time...

Like with previous guide books, it's a small price to pay to have such a photo-rich, detail-filled book to pour through between viewings of the movie, and gives readers new things to look for each time.

Highly recommended. 

(Publisher's Recommendation: Ages 10 & up)

Also available from DK:

DK Reader Level 2

Friday, May 25, 2018

Read, You Can: The Last Jedi pt. II

While there are several new books out now to tie-in with Solo: A Star Wars Story (definitely more info on those coming soon!) let's not forget there's plenty of fun books for young fans of The Last Jedi out there!

In Part 1 of this, we looked at middle-grade books for older kids and confident young readers. Here are a few books for younglings still learning to read, or enjoying stories read to them.

Storybook by Elizabeth Schaefer
Packed with striking illustrations by Brian Rood, the 128-page hardcover The Last Jedi storybook by Elizabeth Schaefer (Rey's Story) is a full retelling of the movie. Like The Last Jedi: A Junior Novel, there are also a few moments that did not make it onto the screen. Great fun to expand and enhance your enjoyment of the film!

Longtime readers (and listeners of our podcast) know we love Star Wars Read-Along books, and we're happy to say The Last Jedi Read-Along Storybook & CD is now available. Also written by Elizabeth Schaefer, this retelling simplifies the story quite a bit. The accompanying CD features character voices, music and sound effects from the movie too! 

The Last Jedi: Rey's Journey (World of Reading Level 2) also by Ella Patrick is a leveled "reader" book, graded as a "Junior Reader: K-Grade 2" with a focus on, you guessed it, Rey's side of the story of The Last Jedi. The book tells about Rey and specifically her time with Luke Skywalker. Illustrations by Brian Rood.
The Last Jedi: Rose & Finn's Secret Mission by Ella Patrick is a 24 page picture book (once again illustrated by Brian Rood) focusing solely on Rose & Finn's part of the story from when they meet, to their escape from the jail cell on Canto Bight. Anyone wanting to read about their wild ride through the city should check out that story in Star Wars: 5-Minute Stories Strike Back.

The Last Jedi: Heroes of the Galaxy by Ruth Amos is a photo-filled look at who's who and what's what in the movie. Like most DK Readers, it comes with a glossary and a quiz at the end. It is a Level 2 "Beginning to Read" reader.

LEGO Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a fun overview of the characters and situations of the movie by Beth Davies, full of photos of LEGO Star Wars characters and building sets. It is also a Level 2 "Beginning to Read" DK reader.

With so many The Last Jedi books available for different interests and reading levels, there's plenty of reading material for fans of all ages. May the Force be with your reading!

Coming Summer 2018!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Read, You Must: Choose Your Destiny A Han & Chewie Adventure

Han Solo has never been known for making the wisest choices. From crossing Jabba the Hutt to lying to Kanjiklub, Han has a long history of doing things the hard way and hoping they'll work out.

In a fun new adventure novel from Disney/Lucasfilm Press, readers can make the choices FOR Han, and hopefully have better results!

Choose Your Destiny: A Han & Chewie Adventure is the first of a new series of middle-grade chapter books in the Star Wars galaxy where young readers make the decisions that will drastically affect the outcome of the story!

Written by Cavan Scott (Adventures in Wild Space, Star Wars Adventures comics), A Han & Chewie Adventure is an exciting, page-turning experience. Scott truly understands the relationship between Han Solo and his wookiee co-pilot Chewbacca, and their back-and-forth banter.

Coming Fall 2018!
On the surface this is a relatively simple story, set sometime between Solo: A Star Wars Story and A New Hope, about a smuggling job gone wrong and an escape from a group of criminals. However, every few pages the reader is presented with a choice of what happens next with each decision creating a new path. Some of the paths are very short and end badly for the heroes, so the book frequently suggests readers go back and try again and help Han "make a better decision".

There are over 20 possible outcomes to the story, but only one of them is really a desirable ending for Han & Chewie in this 140 page book.

Marvel's Star Wars #8  (1978)
With occasional wildly-coloured illustrations by Elsa Charretier, A Han & Chewie Adventure sometimes has the look and feel of the earliest Marvel Star Wars comics from the 70's, where for a few issues it was all about Han & Chewbacca out on their own.

If you've never read this type of book before, the experience itself of flipping from one section to the next - all over the book - can feel like a wild goose chase itself. Reading a book structured this way is like more like playing a game than reading a novel. 

As readers progress, getting a little further each time, it becomes clear that the way to survive is to THINK like Han Solo! Make brash, dangerous decisions, some that even seem foolish but if they are kind-hearted you'll generally do well. Safe decisions will get you nowhere and selfish decisions may get you in serious danger!

Azmorigan from Star Wars Rebels
There are many connections to the larger Star Wars galaxy here, including the shady character Azmorigan, well known to fans of Star Wars Rebels. Glimpses of Solo: A Star Wars Story are also in here, as the character Enfys Nest is mentioned along with Han & Chewbacca "borrowing" a speeder bike that in Charretier's exciting illustration looks remarkably like Nest's from the film.

In The Last Jedi, Yoda refers to the (probably boring) ancient Jedi texts by saying "page turners, they are not". THIS book is the opposite of that. It's a page-turner in every sense!

Make a great choice and go get this entertaining book!

Highly Recommended

(Publisher's Recommendation: Ages 6 & up)

Also recommended...

Smuggler's Run by Greg Rucka
Adventures in Hyperspace by Ryder Windham

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