Sunday, January 26, 2020

Read, You Must: Spark of the Resistance

“We are the spark, that will light the fire that will burn the First Order down.”
- Poe Dameron, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Continuing the series of movie tie-in middle-grade Star Wars novels from Disney-Lucasfilm Press is Spark of the Resistance, released last year as part of the Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker promotions.

Author Justina Ireland (Lando's Luck) gives us a fun and exciting side adventure featuring Rey, Poe, Rose and BB-8. There are no major connections to the events of the movie, but it gives an idea of what the Resistance were up to between the films, and how they managed to regrow the movement against the First Order after the devastating losses at the end of The Last Jedi.

Rey, Poe, Rose and BB-8 are on a special mission when they detect a distress call from the planet Minfar. Being the "good guys" they are, they ignore their orders from Leia and decide to help. Once there they encounter the Zixon, an alien species who live in an amazing underground society after their fights with the Empire. Now the First Order are the new enemy, and the Zixon aren't going to take it any more.

The plot revolves around a race against time to find an experimental and dangerous new technology called the Echo Horn before the First Order can use it against unwilling citizens of the galaxy.

The other half of the story involves the internal power struggles of mid-level leadership within the First Order, namely a pompous new character Commander Spiftz, who will stop at nothing to capture the Resistance leaders and the prized Millennium Falcon! 

His clashes with his scientist advisors and his core belief that he is always the smartest person in the room make him a great new villain. Much of the humour in this 224 page novel revolves around Spiftz, some of the inept people below him, and his own delusions of grandeur.

With occasional illustrations by the always-excellent Phil Noto, the book is a fun addition to a young Star Wars fan's bookshelf.

Star Wars: Spark of the Resistence is a fast-paced and enjoyable adventure, particularly for fans of Rey and Poe.

(Publisher's Recommendation: 8 -12 years)

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Read, You Must: DK Star Wars visual guides

One of the great traditions with Lucasfilm's publishing world is that each movie release seems to have its own lavish book of visuals to pour over from DK books. The format changes from time-to-time but each of these books is reliably full of full-colour, highly-detailed photos of characters, costumes, props, and spaceships from the film. The text highlights details you may have missed or expand on the story with info that didn't make it on screen.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker The Visual Dictionary does not disappoint in any of these areas. In fact it expands upon the format by also including five cross-section artworks that previously would be in their own book.

At 200 pages this one is more than double the thickness of the previous guides for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. That's almost enough to satisfy even the most detail-hungry fans.

Of course, we have to say "almost" because my only complaint of these books is the same one each time: they always have to omit major moments, character reveals, or other "spoilers" for fear that someone leaks such info from the book before the movie comes out. Seems silly now, but this book does not contain Emperor Palpatine, a major character in The Rise of Skywalker.

That's an understandable necessity in the modern world, and a small complaint. What is here is page after page of photos of characters, droids, creatures, aliens, blasters, lightsabers, helmets and nearly everything else you'd want a closer look at.

Of course it is a visual dictionary, but with text by Lucasfilm's own Pablo Hidalgo there's plenty of meaty stuff to read here too. There are many hints and allusions to possible scenes or even storylines deleted from the movie.

For any fan of the design and detail that goes into the making of the Star Wars universe, these visual dictionaries are a must-have addition to the collection.

For younger fans there is also Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker The Galactic Guide, a similarly packaged book of photos and info about the film, just on a smaller scale.

At 95 pages, this smaller hardcover still delivers with plenty to enjoy, profiling key characters and highlighting interesting facts and tidbits. Many of the same pictures are in both books but in this one you sometimes get a closer look at things, like mysterious character Zori Bliss' helmet.

Both books are up to the usual excellent DK standards for Star Wars fans and augment the movie experience like only the visual guides can. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Read, You Must: The Galaxy Needs You

"Have you ever stopped to think about how there is nobody else in the galaxy who is exactly like you?"

That sounds like a simple statement, but the words here are both powerful and empowering in the latest Star Wars picture book from Disney-Lucasfilm press.

The Galaxy Needs You is an inspiring message for younglings, and frankly for anyone who could use a little pep talk. 

It's not exactly a "story", but it is incredibly positive and feels like a motivational speech. Full of uplifting sentiments, the narrator speaks directly to the reader with words of encouragement:

"No one else is smart in the way you're smart or is kind in the particular way you're kind, and nobody else is brave the way you're brave."

Written by Caitlin Kennedy (author of C-3PO Does NOT Like Sand!), The Galaxy Needs You could be a perfect gift for anyone taking on a new challenge, or needing a bit of encouragement. It could easily be given as a graduation gift much like Dr. Seuss' Oh the Places You Will Go.

The artwork, by Eda Kaban (Pirates Don't Go to Kindergarten!, Captain Marvel What Makes a Hero, Pink is for Boys), tells Rey's personal journey visually, from her scavenging days to meeting BB-8 and Finn, to facing Kylo Ren, meeting Luke Skywalker and even moments from The Rise of Skywalker.

Kaban's artwork is whimsical and retro, much like the art in recent Star Wars Little Golden Books. The bright, colourful paintings reimagine key moments of Rey's story in a fun and kid-friendly way.

There IS no one in the galaxy like you, and there are no other Star Wars books quite like this one.

The galaxy needs you, and you probably need to read The Galaxy Needs You.

(Publisher's Recommendation: 5- 8 years)

Recent Posts