Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Read, You Must: Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight

As part of a series of new books retelling the Star Wars saga for young readers, Disney Books begins with Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight written by popular children’s author/illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi and illustrated by the late Ralph McQuarrie, the artist who defined the look of the Star Wars universe more than anyone else. 

Despite the very long title, the story compacts Luke Skywalker’s heroic journey from Episodes IV, V and VI into one 64-page picture book.

Like Pablo Hidalgo’s Star Wars Rebels: A New Hero, this book is illustrated using “pre-production” or “concept” artwork - images created early in the making of a movie or TV show to give an idea how it will look later.

Tony DiTerlizzi, best known for creating fantastical, detailed worlds in the middle-grade novel series The Spiderwick Chronicles and more recently the WondLa books, condenses the three-movie story by focusing mainly on moments Luke was around. The word “adventures” is in the title on purpose as DiTerlizzi briskly focuses on key action scenes.

For some fans, this book is worth having simply as a collection of Ralph McQuarrie artwork. Most of this art has been used before on posters, book covers or featured in books and magazines about the making of Star Wars. However even this long-time fan discovered some images I’d never come across before! Having them all collected in an inexpensive hardcover book is a wonderful alternative to earlier coffee-table books.

Early version of what Yoda might've looked like, by Ralph McQuarrie
Other fans may be puzzled by the images that, while beautifully painted and reproduced, often don’t quite match what is seen in the movies. Yoda, Lando and C-3PO in particular may look odd, even “wrong”, at times. I remember having that reaction as a kid when many of these early paintings were on trading cards, before I learned what pre-production meant.

As wonderful as it is to see Ralph McQuarrie’s art in a new setting and presented to a young audience, Tony DiTerlizzi is an amazing artist himself and hopefully he will create some Star Wars artwork in the very near future! 

Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight is as much an impressive art collection for nostalgic parents as it is an engaging introduction to Luke Skywalker’s story.

-Chris @SWKidscast

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