Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Jeffrey Brown is Back with Friends: Darth Vader and Friends

Artist and author Jeffrey Brown is back again this month with another entertaining book for Star Wars fans. Like its predecessors, Darth Vader and Friends (Chronicle Books) is 64 pages of gag cartoons set in Brown’s unique alternate version of the galaxy.

Teachable moments and physics
Continuing along the lines of bestsellers Darth Vader and Son, Vader’s Little Princess, and Good Night, Darth Vader, Luke and Leia are small children and Darth Vader is a single Dad bumbling his way through parenting and work. Familiar Star Wars characters show up as children throughout. Forget everything you know about Star Wars continuity - the rules go out the window here to make room for lighthearted fun.

This series has the look and feel of children's books but based on the vocabulary these books are more “gift books” than children’s books. Adults can enjoy them with or without their children and often it seems the jokes are more for the grown-ups.

Star Wars has been parodied many, many times since 1977 so finding fresh material for humour is no small challenge. Brown manages to find a few new ways to look at the galaxy but often his focus is more on being sweet than being funny, like when Chewbacca ate all the pizza or Leia ate the candy bar. There’s no joke; it's just a cute childhood moment.

Luke playing in sand? Looks familiar somehow...
Compared to the witty humour in the recent LEGO Star Wars and Phineas and Ferb TV specials Brown’s books often feel like a corny Family Circus take on Star Wars. However the next page can reveal a clever new surprise like clone troopers confusing each other’s names, Luke’s terrifying lightsaber practice or a bizarrely self-aware Jabba. Alternating between two distinct tones must be a difficult balance.

Fans of Brown’s previous Star Wars books will enjoy Darth Vader and Friends though newcomers to the series may want to start at the beginning with the mega-hit Darth Vader and Son

Also available:


Monday, April 20, 2015

Ultimate Rebels Fun with Ultimate Factivity Collection

What is a “factivity collection”? Imagine a big portion of the Star Wars Rebels Visual Guide mixed with an activity book, then add an entire sticker book. That’s what’s inside this fun new title from DK. 

Following last year’s Star Wars Ultimate Factivity Collection, this fun book focuses on the characters, locations, spaceships and events from Disney XD’s Star Wars Rebels TV show. 

Ultimate Factivity Collection: Star Wars Rebels is 96 pages of facts, trivia, games, puzzles, how-to-draw, and stickers galore - more than 500! Most of them have a place inside the book but there are many other “extra” stickers too. 
Also Available!

Like most DK books this one is filled with pictures of characters, ships and locations. There’s also plenty to read and do here thanks to authors David Fentiman, Ruth Amos and Lisa Stock.

There are many pages for drawing: you can design your own droid, a speeder bike, the view from inside the cockpit of the Ghost and even create your own graffiti tags like Sabine (ideally to do only inside the book, unless you see Imperial posters around).

Like a lot of Star Wars Rebels books, this one is only based on the events of the first few episodes of season one and the Spark of Rebellion movie debut. Since it came out after the season finale, it would’ve been nice if it included characters and scenes that appeared later on.

If you’re looking for a good rainy-day activity book, or a collection of new trivia to quiz your friends, check out the Ultimate Factivity Collection: Star Wars Rebels.

Further reading: for more Star Wars drawing fun check out Draw Star Wars Rebels!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Star Wars Kidscast Episode 12: Epic Discussion of Epic Yarns!

On the eve of Star Wars Celebration Anaheim 2015, we talk to Holman Wang, the co-creator of a new series of Star Wars board books Epic Yarns!

On a visit to his Vancouver, BC studio he discusses his process, his kids' reaction and his life-long love of Star Wars. His children Cici (5) and Felix (3) climb in his lap to make a guest appearance too!

Here's our review from last week about the Epic Yarns books!

Also in this episode we discuss two new Star Wars podcasts featuring kids: The Younglings Podcast and Children of the Force, Star Wars Celebration, and many of the new books coming out this year!

Listen on iTunes here
Listen now:

Special thanks to Fernanda from Raincoast Books (Chronicle)!

Photo Gallery:
Tauntauns & Ewoks together at last!

Nothing good can come of these two together!

Chewie is especially furry next to various unfinished models

They're alive, and in perfect hibernation.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Read, You Must: LEGO Star Wars in 100 Scenes

Spring is going to be a busy for book-loving LEGO Star Wars fans with new titles to enjoy: LEGO Star Wars in 100 Scenes comes out this week and then comes the “Updated and Expanded” LEGO Star Wars Character Encyclopedia, both from DK Publishing.

LEGO Star Wars In 100 Scenes is 216 pages of action-packed Star Wars movie scenes recreated using hundreds of LEGO minifigs, playsets and vehicles. As the cover puts it: “Six Movies…A Lot of LEGO Bricks."

While similar to DK’s impressive Star Wars In 100 Scenes, the biggest difference (other than obviously here the pictures are LEGO) is this book is really funny! 

Writer Daniel Lipkowitz also had a lot of fun making jokes in the bizarre world of LEGO Star Wars with The Yoda Chronicles (2013) and The DarkSide (2014). He continues with new wise-cracks and comments throughout this book.
The humour is just one part though - for every scene there’s trivia about the Star Wars universe and info about the LEGO pieces shown. Which Boba Fett is that? Why did they use that Padmé? How many different Landspeeders have appeared in LEGO sets? Learn these things, you will.

If you’ve read the DK Readers based on the existing six Star Wars movies, you may recognize some of the pictures in here but there’s plenty new to enjoy even if you already have those six books.

Recommended for readers 8-12 years, but younger LEGO lovers would enjoy it too!

Also available this month: 

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