These *Are* the Books You’re Looking For | A "Star Wars" Roundup

Just in time for Star Wars Reads Day on October 10, librarian Christopher Lassen selects a variety of new "Star Wars" titles guaranteed to awaken the Force in readers in this galaxy or any other.
000swreadsA long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, George Lucas changed the face of moviemaking and pop culture itself with the release of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Since then, children and teens have been fascinated with the world of Jedis, Wookiees, and Jabba the Hutt. These films have opened up a magical world, where travel from one end of space to the other is achieved with the flick of a switch and an epic battle for the survival of every being is fought in territories we, as humans, have only just begun to explore. Yet while these fantastical elements are the initial draw, it is the human elements that truly make these stories accessible to all (especially to young people). Issues such as parental discord, abandonment, the struggle for acceptance, the feeling of being an outsider, and the experience of eventually finding a place to fit in are just some of the themes these films tackle in their ambitious storytelling. Like other pop culture phenomena, the adventures of Luke, Leia, and company have long been a popular choice for readers. The latest eagerly anticipated entry in the film series, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, will be released this December—guaranteed to create even more interest in the Star Wars universe. Young Padawans will pour into libraries across the country looking for the perfect books to satiate their hunger for the latest Star Wars titles. Don’t know your Padme from your Palpatine or your Hoths from your Han Solos? The titles below shine a light(saber) on the creative and fun ways authors and illustrators have interpreted this world and made it even more accessible to kids—and just in time for Star Wars Reads Day on October 10. Indeed, the Force is strong in these books.

Picture Books for the Young Padawan

WANG, Jack & Holman Wang. A New Hope. ISBN 9781452133935.000A New Hope -----. The Empire Strikes Back. ISBN 9781452135007. -----. Return of the Jedi. ISBN 9781452135007. ea. vol.: illus. by authors. (Star Wars Epic Yarns). 24p. Chronicle. 2015. Board. $9.95. Toddler-PreS–It’s never too early to expose the youngest readers to the world of the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance, and these board books are a great entry point. Jack and Holman Wang chose 12 iconic scenes from each of the films in the original trilogy and re-create them with felt and other craft supplies. The left page contains a single one- to two-syllable word that best exemplifies the meaning or main idea of the scene, with the photograph on the recto. The words are carefully selected to help support the images so that younger readers won’t struggle with the correlation between the two. Future Jedis and adult fans will delight in the intricate yarn creations. 000DarthBROWN, Jeffrey. Darth Vader and Friends. 2015. 9781452138107. -----. Darth Vader and Son. 2012. ISBN 9781452106557. -----. Goodnight Darth Vader. 2014. ISBN 9781452128306. -----. Vader’s Little Princess. 2013. ISBN 9781452118697. ea. vol.: illus. by author. (Star Wars). 64p. Chronicle. Tr. $14.95. Gr 3 Up–Author/illustrator Brown strikes space gold with this popular and award-winning series (Darth Vader and Son and Vader’s Little Princess each won Eisner Awards in 2013 and 2014, respectively). Brown imagines a life where Darth Vader raises his (spoiler alert!) son and daughter, Luke and Leia, from childhood and experiences all of the same predicaments and situations many kids encounter with their parents, and vice versa. The volumes include relatable moments, such as an exasperated Vader walking the children’s neglected pet (a Kowakian monkey-lizard), and readers will also enjoy a full-length bedtime story incorporating many of the characters and places in the universe. 000AdventureDITERLIZZI, Tony. Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight. illus. by Ralph McQuarrie. 64p. Disney/LucasFilm Pr. 2014. ISBN 9781484706688. Tr. $19.99. Gr 3-5New York Times best-selling author and Caldecott Honor–winning illustrator DiTerlizzi takes the story of young Jedi-in-training Luke Skywalker and offers a streamlined history starting with his humble beginnings on Tatooine to his eventual rise as one of the greatest Jedis in the universe. Tracking Luke’s backstory from the original trilogy, DiTerlizzi takes what could have been convoluted and makes it accessible to young readers. What really makes this work stand out is the inclusion of original gouache illustrations from Ralph McQuarrie, George Lucas’s visual artist from A New Hope through Return of the Jedi. This is a treat for young fans and a possible jumping off point for further research into McQuarrie’s work.

Middle Grade and YA reads for Jedis-in-Training

000JabbaANGLEBERGER, Tom. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. 160p. 2010. ISBN 9780810984257. -----. Darth Paper Strikes Back. 176p. 2011. ISBN 9781419700279. -----. The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee. 160p. 2012. ISBN 9781419703928. -----. The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett. 224p. 2013. ISBN 9781419708589. -----. Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue. 208p. 2014. ISBN 9781419710520. -----. Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus! 224p. 2014. ISBN 9781419709333. ea. vol.: Abrams/Amulet. Tr. $13.95. Gr 4 Up–Angleberger is a self-admitted super fanboy of the “Star Wars” universe. His most epic contribution is this best-selling series about the kids at McQuarrie Middle School who are drawn to Dwight, the shy, nerdy outsider who does one thing that draws the attention of those around him: he creates origami figures of popular “Star Wars” characters, starting with Yoda in the first title and expanding to other characters in subsequent books. A built-in activity is included in each title, teaching young readers how to make the origami version of the title character. The instructions for creating the origami figures are clear and easy enough even for first-time folders. They are a guaranteed success for library craft programs. Plus, making Origami Yodas on the reference desk is the perfect way to draw in those kids with a bit of extra energy either during free school periods or after school. 000PrincessANGLEBERGER, Tom. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: Beware The Power Of The Dark Side! 432p. ISBN 9781484709139. BRACKEN, Alexandra. Star Wars: A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy. 336p. ISBN 9781484709122. GIDWITZ, Adam. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back: So You Want To Be a Jedi?. 336p. ISBN 9781484709146. ea. vol.: Disney/LucasFilm Pr. Tr. $17.99. Gr 5 Up–Three popular middle grade and young adult authors (and admitted “Star Wars” fanatics) take the original trilogy and reimagine the tales for an upper middle grade audience. Bracken tells the story of A New Hope from the alternating perspectives of the film’s three main characters, shedding light on what possibly went through their heads during this tumultuous period. Gidwitz spins the tale of The Empire Strikes Back in second-person narration, putting readers in the driver’s seat. After each chapter, he includes a Jedi training activity that just begs to be replicated in tween programs. Angleberger accentuates the pulpy aspects of Return of the Jedi and delivers a rollicking ride that will transport fans to the ends of the universe as well as the end of the original trilogy. 000HanCASTELLUCCI, Cecil & Jason Fry. Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure. 240p. ISBN 9781484724972. FRY, Jason. The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure. 192p. ISBN 9781484724965. RUCKA, Greg. Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo Adventure. 192p. ISBN 9781484724958. ea. vol.: illus. by Phil Noto. (Star Wars: Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens). Disney/LucasFilm Pr. 2015. Tr. 12.99. Gr 5 Up–Part of the "Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens" series, which will include over 20 different titles written by a variety of authors and produced by various publishers, these three titles all sit within the original cannon and cover different events that chronologically take place between films from the original trilogy. Farm-boy-turned-fighter-pilot Luke Skywalker finds himself on a mysterious planet after destroying the Death Star in A New Hope. Tapping into the unseen power of the Force, Luke must save a young girl and battle a new villain. In Moving Target, which is set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Princess Leia leads a group of rebels in a dangerous decoy mission against the Empire. Best buds Han and Chewie, no strangers to eluding bounty hunters in the Millennium Falcon, find themselves on another death-defying mission in Smuggler's Run, this time with the added danger of an Imperial agent on their tail. Short, action-packed chapters; interspersed illustrations in bold shades of red, black, and white; and attractive design elements make these short novels perfect to hand to fans of the original trilogy who are breathlessly awaiting the new film. GRAY, Claudia. Star Wars: Lost Stars. (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens). 560p. Disney/Lucasfilm Pr. 2015. ISBN 9781484724989. Tr. $17.99.000Loststars Gr 9 Up–Gray, a New York Times bestselling YA author and tremendous "Star Wars" fan opens this novel eight years after the fall of the Old Republic. She introduces two characters new to the cannon, Ciena and Thane, but fits them effortlessly inside the "Star Wars" universe, giving readers a glimpse into life during Imperial rule. The two teens join the Imperial Academy, both with high hopes of becoming pilots. But when Thane joins the Rebellion, the friends wind up on opposite sides of the intergalactic conflict. With nods to "Romeo and Juliet," there's a good dose of romance and relationship-building to balance the high-octane, sci-fi plot. Spanning major events that take readers through the end of Return of the Jedi, Gray offers something here that both die-hard fans and "Star Wars" newbies will thoroughly enjoy.

Graphic novels to get your Midi-Chlorians flowing

000SpaceWarpedBOURHIS, Herve. Space Warped. illus. by Rudy Spiessert. 144p. KaBoom. 2012. ISBN 9781608866700. pap. $14.99. Gr 4 Up–A satirical look at the “Star Wars” universe that also pays tribute to it, this work is perfect for those who appreciate the goofy humor of Mel Brooks’s Spaceballs or Cartoon Network’s Robot Chicken’s “Star Wars” specials. This graphic novel follows the story line of A New Hope and delights in its absurdity. Bourhis sets his story in a more medieval setting while still keeping the integrity of the source material. 000PhantomBROWN, Jeffrey. Star Wars: Jedi Academy. 160p. 2013. ISBN 9780545505178. -----. Return of the Padawan. 176p. 2014. ISBN 9780545621250. -----. The Phantom Bully. 176p. 2015. ISBN 9780545621267. ea. vol.: (Star Wars: Jedi Academy). Scholastic. Tr. $12.99. Gr 4 Up–Brown strikes gold again with a more traditional graphic novel approach to the “Star Wars” universe. Roan Novachez is a student in Pilot Academy Middle School and is training to become “the GREATEST star pilot in the GALAXY.” Told through diary entries, official school documents, and graphic panels, Roan’s misadventures are hysterical and incorporate many characters and events from the “Star Wars” universe into its narrative. This is for those readers who enjoy “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”–esque exploits with their lightsaber battles. This is worth it for the sight of the Wookiee gym teacher in shorts and headband alone.

Tatooine Trivia, Galactic Crafts, and Titles Even a Sith Would Love

STAR WARS COVER MECH 3rd pass.inddALEXANDER, Chris. Star Wars Origami: 36 Amazing Paper-Folding Projects from A Galaxy Far, Far Away…. 272p. Workman. 2012. ISBN 9780761169437. pap. $16.95. Gr 5 Up–Alexander, creator and site-runner of, is the authority on all things related to “Star Wars” crafting. This volume has projects for readers of all abilities,  from beginning crafters to advanced origami folders. Included in the back is special origami paper for specific characters. However, children and teens will delight in decorating their own origami creations on clear plain paper. Many of the most instantly recognizable characters (Yoda, Boba Fett, Chewbacca) are in the beginner category, while some of the ships and structures, such as the Millennium Falcon, are in the advanced category. BRAY, Adam, Cole Horton, Michael Kogge, & Kerrie Dougherty. Star War: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know: Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. 200p. DK. 2015. ISBN 000everything9781465437853. Tr. $19.99. Gr 4 Up–DK does what DK does best here, compiling tons of facts, info-bits, and trivia in a glossy, oversize, photo- and illustration-filled compendium of all things "Star Wars". Information covers everything in the current canon ("Star Wars Rebels", "Star Wars: The Clone Wars", and the "Star Wars" films I-VI). A few teasers and film stills for The Force Awakens are included at the end. Fans will want to pore over this; it's also ideal for putting together trivia questions for "Star Wars"-themed events. 000legoLIPKOWITZ, Daniel. LEGO Star Wars in 100 Scenes. 216p. DK. 2015. ISBN 9781465434371. Tr. $18.99. Gr 3 Up–For younger readers, this look at “Star Wars” through the lens of LEGO is a great introduction and further study of the universe that encompasses all six films. Readers are treated to scenes such as LEGO versions of Anakin and Obi Wan engaging in a lightsaber battle in pits of lava from Revenge of the Sith as well as facts from the movies and further explanation of secondary characters. 000lucasPOLLACK, Pam & Meg Belviso. Who Is George Lucas? illus. by Ted Hammond. 112p. Grosset & Dunlap. 2014. ISBN 9780448479477. pap. $5.99. Gr 3 Up–This addition to the popular “Who Is/Was…” series (Penguin) tells the story of the man who created “Star Wars”: George Lucas. Facts about his childhood, what inspired his creation of the epic saga, and his career path are included. This is a great read for kids who dream big and love to tell stories—in whatever form they may take. Hopefully, reading Lucas’s story will inspire creativity in kids and motivate them to imagine galaxies both far, far away as well as craft worlds of their own.

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