Friday, December 2, 2016

Read, You Must: Princess Leia: Royal Rebel!

If you’ve seen the Star Wars movies then you already know a lot about Princess Leia Organa, later known as General Organa by the time of The Force Awakens. However there’s also plenty of other details of her adventures to be learned through further reading!

A new book in Scholastic’s “Backstories” series, the first Star Wars title in the set, pieces together these tales into one chronological life story.

Princess Leia: Royal Rebel is a 128 page biographical chapter book by Calliope Glass (co-author of ABC-3PO) and illustrated throughout by comic artist Joe Quinones. It’s a great way to catch up on Leia’s official story.

Starting during the Clone Wars era, the story explains - in an age-appropriate way - the dark circumstances of how Leia came to be adopted by Bail and Breha Organa of Alderaan. Glass then moves forward with details of young Leia’s life, details that have been previously revealed over the past few years in Marvel Comics’ Princess Leia series and Leia’s season 2 appearance on Star Wars Rebels.
Young Leia and her family on Alderaan

As she grows into adulthood, the events of Episodes 4, 5 & 6 unfold from Leia’s perspective. Along the way, gaps in time are filled by more adventures from the Marvel comic series and from the middle-grade novel Moving Target.

It’s great to have a book like this because many interested young readers may not be quite ready to tackle Moving Target or to read the Teen-rated comic books yet, but will still want to know what happened outside of the movies.

Marvel's Princess Leia
Little is known about Leia between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, and according to this book, she likes it that way. Privacy is hard to come by for a Princess and a Rebel leader!

What is known is that somewhere in there she and Han Solo married and had one child, Ben Solo, who later turned to the Dark Side and called himself Kylo Ren! Also in that time, Leia was the key leader in forming the Resistance. It’s quite a life she’s had, and nobody knows at this point what events may take place in Episode 8 or beyond!

Leia on a mission between Episode 4 & 5
The story flows well despite the jumps in time as it incorporates the details from different sources. Recent chapter books like Rey’s Story and Finn’s Story have done a similar thing but are limited because they have far less official information available to include.

This book is a little closer to the wonderful biographical middle grade novels Scholastic published a few years ago like The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader and The Life and Legend of Obi-Wan Kenobi (both by Ryder Windham, 2008) which also pulled details together from multiple movies and other sources.

Quinones’ many black and white illustrations add to tie the story together. The artwork is somewhat similar to the pictures in the terrific Han Solo “Adventures in Hyperspace” chapter books (2010), also written by Ryder Windham (and also from Scholastic publishing). The cover artwork is by the amazing Phil Noto (illustrator of Moving Target, Weapon of a Jedi, and more!)

It’s great to see Scholastic publishing Star Wars chapter books again, and they picked a fantastic place to start with Princess Leia: Royal Rebel!

(Publisher’s Recommendation: Ages 8 – 12)

Coming soon in this series: Darth Vader: Sith Lord!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Luke Skywalker Launches New Picture Book Series!

A new series of picture books from Disney-Lucasfilm Press begins this month with the release of Luke and the Lost Jedi Temple by Jason Fry, author of many Star Wars books (Aliens of the Galaxy, Star Wars in 100 Scenes, Rey's Survival Guide).
What makes this series unique is that these picture books are all fully-illustrated adaptations of middle-grade Star Wars novels from 2015.

Luke and the Lost Jedi Temple is a very abridged version of Fry’s own The Weapon of a Jedi, published as part of the “Journey to The Force Awakens” titles. The black, white and occasional red illustrations from Weapon are replaced here with full-colour digital paintings from Pilot Studio.

If you look carefully Sarco Plank is in The Force Awakens!
The story is the same though as Luke Skywalker, not long after the destruction of the first Death Star, makes an emergency landing on a strange planet. Luke finds himself being drawn by the Force to a long-abandoned Jedi temple. Along the way he makes a new friend Farnay and a mysterious – possibly dangerous - guide named Sarco Plank.

Fry turns his original novel into a quick adventure for younger readers to enjoy while the full colour illustrations capture the action.

The book also comes with two pages of stickers based on characters and scenes in the story.

As mentioned above, this book begins a new series as other middle-grade novels will be soon adapted into this format. Other titles to look forward to:

Leia and the Great Island Escape (Adapted from Moving Target) (Dec 2016)

Poe and the Missing Ship (Adapted from Poe’s story in Before the Awakening) (Jan 2017)

Han and the Rebel Rescue (Adapted from Smuggler’s Run) (May 2017)

No word yet if the Rey or Finn stories within Before the Awakening will also be adapted. Stay tuned for more details.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Watch, You Must: Jedi Junior High

Now available on Netflix* (and many other streaming services) is a documentary that many Star Wars fans will enjoy. 

Jedi Junior High is the behind-the-scenes story of the making of a Star Wars live musical production! Specifically it is an adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back, staged in 2009.

For any seasoned theatre company this would be a huge undertaking, but this show has a cast of performers all ranging from about 8 to 13 years old! On top of that, there is a wide range of experience and skill among the cast.

Over the course of the film you get to know the cast, their families, the crew and the creators who put the whole thing together. The young cast range from kids vaguely aware of the story to kids who (like most people reading this right now) live and breathe Star Wars saga! 

Here's the trailer:

Jedi Junior High goes through the audition process, the rehearsals, the backstage drama and the exciting opening night.
"Chewbacca" learns that being a wookiee is a very sweaty life
So how could they do a live musical that includes the battle of Hoth? Carbon freezing? Yoda??

The clever ways the producers of the show have come up with to include all these and more are just one of the reasons to enjoy this movie.

Be prepared to laugh, to be moved, to see the cutest Yoda you’ve ever seen and to cheer on a whole crew of young rebels!

For more details visit

*Available on Netflix USA and Canada. Check other areas.

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