Thursday, May 21, 2020

Read, You Must: The Empire Strikes Back!

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back this week, we're looking back at some of the many wonderful print adaptations of the first-ever Star Wars sequel, particularly those intended for younger fans!

Over the past 40 years there have been many versions of this tale for all ages. Here's just a few:

For the Youngest Readers
Star Wars Epic Yarns: The Empire Strikes Back by Jack &Holman Wang  (2015) “These board books from Chronicle Books offer a unique look at the movies’ key scenes through gorgeously photographed needle-felted characters. Each movie in the original trilogy is presented in 12 images and 12 words."

For Learning Readers
The Empire Strikes Back Little Golden Book by Geof Smith, Illustrated by Chris Kennett  (2015)
"The epic space saga, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, is finally retold in the iconic Little Golden Book format! After the destruction of the Death Star, the Empire has regrouped—with Darth Vader leading the hunt for Luke Skywalker. Featuring stunning retro illustrations, this book is perfect for Star Wars—and Little Golden Book—fans of all ages!"

The Empire Strikes Back Read-Along Storybook & CD Walt Disney Records by Randy Thornton, Illustrated by Brian Rood (2015) "The Rebellion faces its darkest hour in Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back. Fully illustrated with gorgeous images by Star Wars artist Brian Rood, this epic storybook also includes a CD with word-for-word narration, music, and character voices. Follow along as Luke Skywalker trains with Yoda to become a Jedi and defeat the fearsome Darth Vader."

For Avid Readers

The Empire Strikes Back Graphic Novel written by Alessandro Ferrari, various artists (2019)
"Like the other Star Wars Graphic Novel Adaptations, The Empire Strikes Back combines the epic wonder of a galaxy far, far away with streamlined, young-reader friendly designs, making this a visual treat for longtime fans and a great introduction for newcomers."

The Empire Strikes Back: So You Want to Be a Jedi? by Adam Gidwitz (2015)  "...a captivating retelling of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back like you've never experienced before, infusing the iconic, classic tale of good versus evil with a unique perspective and narrative style that will speak directly to today's young readers while enhancing the Star Wars experience for core fans of the saga."

The Empire Strikes Back by Ryder Windham (2004) "Darth Vader vs. Luke Skywalker. Father vs. son. An amazing all-new novelization that will tie in with the blockbuster classic Star Wars DVD release."

Monday, May 18, 2020

Long Forgotten Version of The Empire Strikes Back!

Just in time for the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, we found a little-mentioned alternate version of the story, in a pretty unlikely source!

It is hard to really comprehend just how big Star Wars was in the late 1970's and early 1980's. It wasn't just popular, it was a pop culture phenomenon.
Larger version at the bottom of article

Every major magazine seemingly had Star Wars on the cover at some point, some multiple times, including TIME, People, Us, Rolling Stone, and in 1980, Family Circle.

Family Circle?

Family Circle was a very popular "women's interest" magazine published from 1932 and up to the end of 2019, always very much intended for mothers. Yes, of course moms like Star Wars too! (True fact: my mother introduced me to Star Wars! Thanks Mom!)

The August 5, 1980 issue seems like a typical one for the time but there on the bottom of the cover after headlines of diets, beautiful skin, recipes and the "right look in pants" are those glorious words: The Empire Strikes Back.

Not even a mention of the words "Star Wars". There was no need. By then, months after the movie premiered, the blockbuster sequel was a household name by itself! And Family Circle was definitely all about households.
Donald F. Glut's Original Novelization
This was no ordinary feature though: what Family Circle ran across 4 pages was the entire story of The Empire Strikes Back! This is a condensed version is written by Donald F. Glut, author of the official novelization of the movie published that spring.

With a few black and white illustrations borrowed from the Marvel comics adaptation of the movie (including the infamous scary-looking Yoda based on early concept art that was later corrected in comic reprints), Glut's short-story version of The Empire Strikes Back emphasizes the action and romance and leaves out almost all of Luke's Jedi training.

There's a few key moments from the movie left out to shorten the story. Here's a few examples of what's different in this version (or scroll down to enjoy it yourself):

- There is no Wampa attack, and so there's no Luke lost in the snow or in the medical clinic. Instead Luke encounters the vision of Obi-Wan (Ben) Kenobi after he crashes his snowspeeder during the Hoth battle.

-Yoda doesn't play around. He introduces himself almost immediately.

-Luke's X-wing doesn't crash on Dagobah, so there's no levitation scene later.

-There's no mysterious Dagobah cave, so no dream-like fight with Vader.

-C-3PO doesn't get broken up, or go missing on Cloud City, so instead of worrying about his whereabouts, Leia and Han have a little romantic scene that was apparently cut from the movie.

-When Han is frozen in carbonite, instead of saying "I love you" and "I know", Han and Leia have much more to say. (This is consistent with the comic adaptation as well as Glut's own novelization).

It's very hard to believe this amazing movie is 40 years old now as it seems so timeless today. Hopefully in another 40 years fans will be celebrating and discovering new ways to enjoy these movies that crossed generations and appealed to so many of us in so many ways!  

May the 40th Be With You!  

Monday, May 11, 2020

Read, You Must: I Am A Padawan

It's been a while since we had a look at the Star Wars Little Golden Books. Returning to the Star Wars galaxy in 2015 with adaptations of each of the movies, the classic Little Golden books line has continued and has well over 20 related titles in the past few years!

One running theme looks at all aspects of what it means to be who you are, in the Star Wars galaxy. This inspirational series started with I am a Jedi, I am a Droid, I am a Pilot and even included the bad guys with I am a Sith! Each has the trademark retro style of painted illustrations and simple story usually with a motivational message about being yourself, rising to challenges, helping others, making friends etc.

More recent titles in this series have included I am a Princess, I am a Hero, I am a Wookiee, I am a Stormtrooper, and We Are the Resistance.

The latest addition to this theme is the Clone Wars-focused I am a Padawan, written by Ahsoka Tano herself, Ashley Eckstein! The voice of Ahsoka for The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, Eckstein has previously written the empowering 2018 book It's Your Universe, and is the founder of the Her Universe fangirl fashion line.

This is a rare instance – possibly the first and only instance - where a major Star Wars performer has become a Star Wars author!
The story inside tells of the life of a young Jedi, learning from Masters and Knights alike. Acts of bravery, selflessness and friendship are all here, along with the challenges Ahsoka specifically faced during her Jedi training years. The circle of learning becoming the teacher provides many helpful messages for young readers.

The wonderful illustrations by Shane Clester continue the stylized retro-cartoon look of all the Star Wars Little Golden Books.

Fans of The Clone Wars will especially enjoy this book with many characters like Clone Commander Rex, Barriss Offee, Asajj Ventress, Plo Koon, Cad Bane, Aurra Sing, and many other making surprise appearances in the illustrations. Even young Saw Gerrera makes an appearance, his only one in a Little Golden Book. Rogue One is so far the only Star Wars movie not adapted in this line.

I am a Padawan is full of great little life-lessons and ideals for younglings, and is almost a must-have for ANY fan of The Clone Wars!

Publisher’s Recommendation: Ages 2 - 5 years

Also available:

Coming August 2020!

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