Thursday, February 27, 2020

The High Republic: A New (Old) Era in Star Wars!

Earlier this week Lucasfilm announced a brand-new era of Star Wars books and comics that will be arriving soon: The High Republic. Set approximately 200 years BEFORE The Phantom Menace, this era has never before been properly explored. Now it will be the time-frame for numerous books and comics!

“Star Wars: The High Republic features the Jedi as we’ve always wanted to see them — as true guardians of peace and justice. This is a hopeful, optimistic time, when the Jedi and the Galactic Republic are at their height. But of course, into this glorious new era something wicked this way comes,” says Lucasfilm publishing creative director Michael Siglain. “This initiative will give readers young and old a new corner of the galaxy to explore through rich, meaningful stories. Plus, readers will learn what scares the Jedi.”

So far only the first wave of stories has been announced but already there's plenty of cause for excitement for young Star Wars fans:

Into the Dark (Disney/Lucasfilm Press)
From Claudia Gray (Lost Stars) comes the mysterious Young Adult novel of Padawan Reath Silas, stranded on what appears to be an abandoned space first.

A Test of Courage (Disney/Lucasfilm Press)
From Justina Ireland (Spark of the Resistance, Lando's Luck) comes the middle grade novel about a teen Jedi Vernestra Rwoh, a young Padawan, an audacious tech-kid, and the son of an ambassador who are stranded on a jungle moon where they must work together to survive both the dangerous terrain and a hidden danger lurking in the shadows.
The High Republic comic series from Marvel Comics will begin written by Cavan Scott, one of our favourite current Star Wars writers! He has written several of the Adventures in Wild Space books, as well as the Choose Your Destiny titles, numerous Star Wars Adventures comics and Dooku: Jedi Lost!

For younger comic readers comes The High Republic Adventures (IDW Publishing)! These will begin with stories by Daniel José Older author of the Solo: A Star Wars Story tie-in novel Last Shot.

Details are still pretty sparse at the moment but other titles will be announced soon from this exciting new era!

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Learn The Secrets of the Jedi

Wouldn't we all like to know the secrets of the Jedi? How to attune ourselves with the Force and become a powerful guardian of peace in the galaxy?

That may not be entirely possible just yet, but a new book from Insight Kids (Insight Editions) seeks to give young Jedi a start on their path of unraveling all of the Jedi order's mysteries...and secrets.

The Secrets of the Jedi is journal of sorts, told by Luke Skywalker himself (actually Marc Sumerak), detailing a brief history of Jedi lore, techniques, philosophies and more. Presumably Luke took a few hours to himself to get all his thoughts down before appearing at the battle of Crait at the end of The Last Jedi.

Over 32 beautifully illustrated pages (illustrations by Sergio Gómez Silvan), "Luke" discusses topics like the Old Republic, The Force, The Light Side, The Dark Side and more. He also goes into detail about lightsabers, Jedi combat techniques, and Force abilities.  

The Secrets of the Jedi really feels like an extension of the earlier book The Jedi Path by Daniel Wallace, like it's Luke's additional notes on that text. In fact one of the sections inside is titled The Jedi Path.

Not only is this large-size hardcover book illustrated, it also contains fold-outs, pop-ups, envelopes to open, and a poster of the cover artwork.
Author Marc Sumerak (Star Wars: Droidography) truly captures the voice of the troubled older Luke, looking back on the successes and failures of his teachers and his own teachings. He reflects on what he had learned from Masters like Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, but also what younger students like Ben Solo and Rey taught him. Luke frequently refers to Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader as his father, personally connecting himself to these stories.

Not to be confused with this one!
Occasionally Luke here knows something where one must stop and ponder HOW Luke would know that. Some are easy to sort out, others pose interesting questions. Like how did Luke know the true circumstances of Mace Windu's death? Only Darth Sidious, and newly named Darth Vader, walked out of that office alive. Perhaps through the Force he was able to learn the truth. The official Imperial account of the events would have been much different.

I have mentioned this in previous more recent book reviews, but it bears repeating, that one of the wonderful aspects of the Disney era of Star Wars books is that the entire saga can be used and referenced. There are many examples here of Luke discussing not only details we saw in the movies, but also characters and events from The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels too. Treating the saga as one big story really makes it feel like a cohesive and interconnected galaxy. Years ago had this book been written, it would be much more limited in scope.

For younglings, Padawans, and older fans looking to dive into the teachings of the Jedi, and especially Master Luke Skywalker, The Secrets of the Jedi is an excellent start.

(Publisher's Recommendation: 8 - 12 years)
See also:

Also "by Luke Skywalker"

Sunday, February 9, 2020

R2-D2 is LOST! ...and a Lot of Fun!

The duo that brought us C-3PO Does Not Like Sand! returns with another fun Droid Tales picture book featuring R2-D2, C-3PO and BB-8 from Disney - Lucasfilm Press.

Set some time after The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi - indicated only by the fact that the three droids know each other - author Caitlin Kennedy (The Galaxy Needs You) takes the trio on an adventure, this time returning to the forest moon of Endor, home to the Ewoks.

C-3PO delights again in being worshipped by the furry Ewoks, but R2-D2 appears to become annoyed, possibly even jealous, with his friend getting such attention. The astromech rolls off on his own into the dangerous Endor wilderness.

R2-D2 then encounters a lost young Ewok and becomes the child's caretaker, assuming the unlikely role of babysitter. The two then embark on their own little adventure to find their way back to the Ewok village.

Unlike C-3PO Does Not Like Sand!, which had the talkative C-3PO chattering away through everything, this book contains very few words as neither R2 or the young Ewok have much to say in words we'd understand. The story is told visually by the colourful cartoon artwork of Brian Kesinger.

There's funny stuff, scary stuff and several moments parents and caregivers will find very relatable in this short adventure tale.

Like the previous book, this feels very similar to the 1980's Saturday morning Droids cartoon kind of story and humour. It's unclear if Droid Tales is going to continue only as a book series or maybe it turns into something bigger. Pehaps BB-8 will get his own book next? Perhaps a new animated cartoon series? Let's hope!

(Publisher's Recommendation: Age 5-8 years)

Also available:

Friday, February 7, 2020

Choose to Choose Your Destiny!

The latest title in the Choose Your Destiny series is A Finn & Poe Adventure, published last year as part of the Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker promotion.

For those unfamiliar with the series, these exciting, plot twisting tales flow with multiple story paths and outcomes based on the choices of the reader. The story can be tragically short or unfold as a lengthy adventure, depending on the decisions made.

At 140 pages, these page-turning chapter books are great fun for middle graders to enjoy controlling the story.

This time Poe, Finn and BB-8 evade the First Order at every turn on their mission for the Resistance. The story takes place between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker.

As with the other books in the series A Finn & Poe Adventure is written by Cavan Scott (Adventures in Wild Space) and illustrated by Elsa Charretier. Scott captures the banter of these two characters and puts them into appropriately silly but dangerous dilemmas. Charretier's wildly colourful and exciting images add a fun element to the books too.

Unfolding more like a game than a regular novel, these stories are a lot of fun and challenge the reader to "solve" them by getting to the one happy ending.

Choose wisely!

Review of A Han & Chewie Adventure here

 Also available:

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