May the Force be with you (and your reading!)

Star Wars Reads Day[cue 20th Century Fox intro]

[cue Star Wars theme song]

Tomorrow, Saturday October 6, 2012 is the first National Star Wars Reads Day, designed to "celebrate reading and Star Wars." While this may be an unusual pairing, I’m all for promoting events that encourage children to read. So in honor of the inaugural event, I’ve taken a look at three new Star Wars books that have recently arrived in the office.

Star Wars 123Some fans might say it’s never too early to get kids interested in the Star Wars universe. Perhaps that’s why Lucas Books (through publisher Scholastic) has started a line of Star Wars board books. Numbers and counting concepts aside, Star Wars 123 (July 2012) is geared more toward Star Wars-fanatic parents than their newborns. The shiny images may catch a baby’s attention for a few seconds, but the vocabulary and subject matter are a "galaxy far, far away" from what most toddlers are capable of comprehending. The book could be appreciated as a baby shower or novelty gift; in that case, consider pairing it with Star Wars ABC.

Star Wars: A Galactic Pop-Up AdventurePop-up master Matthew Reinhart’s Star Wars: A Galactic Pop-Up Adventure (Orchard/Scholastic, October 2012) would be a perfect present for school-age children obsessed with the film series — especially if they're into the Clone Wars. Over the five foldout spreads in this book, readers learn all about the Star Wars universe as depicted in Episodes 1–3 of George Lucas's famous film franchise. Giant pop-ups portray podracing, Nexu and Acklay monsters, General Grievous, Vulture droid fighters and a Jedi Interceptor, and Lord Darth Vader himself -- complete with a light-up lightsaber that changes from Jedi blue to Sith red!! The book, a marvel of paper engineering, maximizes space by including detailed text inside foldout mini-books containing their own small pop-ups.

Darth Vader pop-up Darth Vader in all his pop-up glory

Even though the book focuses specifically on the Clone Wars (I admit my loyalty lies with the original films 4–6), the pop-ups are delicate, and it probably won’t have a long library shelf life, Reinhart should be commended for the book's ambitiousness, comprehensiveness, and overall WOW-ness. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a second book featuring Episodes 4–6!

With a foreword appropriately written by middle-grade author Tom Angleberger (The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, Darth Paper Strikes Back, and The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee), Chris Alexander’s book Star Wars Origami: 36 Amazing Paper-Folding Projects from a Galaxy, Far, Far Away… (Workman, August 2012) will excite Star Wars fans who are also into making things (the same way Star Wars Legos have thrilled them for years). But be warned: this book is not for the casual origami enthusiast. The projects take a lot of practice, skill, and patience to complete (similar to Jedi training). Those who are not origami masters may end up frustrated, with a lot of crumpled paper. Though the projects are broken down by level of difficulty, don’t be deceived. I tried two of the "youngling" (easy) projects and let’s just say they are not my finest artistic achievements.

Star Wars origami projects two "youngling" (i.e., "easy") projects

I'm a little apprehensive about trying any of the harder projects after my pitiful attempts at the easy ones! The projects require a strong familiarity with origami folds, so I highly recommend reading the origami basics section thoroughly before proceeding. Each project is introduced with a brief description and a film still of the character or ship, and trivia is interspersed throughout to test your knowledge of all things Star Wars. Perhaps coolest of all: 72 sheets of specially patterned Star Wars origami paper! I spent a lot of time flipping through the book trying to decide which favorite ships and characters I wanted to re-create first. Lightsabers, R2-D2, Yoda, C-3PO, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, The Death Star, Millennium Falcon, TIE Fighter, X-wing Starfighter, my list goes on and on. I only wish Alexander had included an origami version of an Ewok! After my failed attempts at Han and the Death Star I was disheartened, but I’m determined to persevere and keep trying out different projects in my spare time (perhaps during a Star Wars movie marathon?).

The website for tomorrow’s event shows a map of sites where events will take place in honor of the day. If you can’t make it to one of the events, activity kits on the website offer recipes, crafts, coloring pages, trivia, and games young padawans (and adult Jedi-wannabes) can do at home — including some origami and pop-ups! But as you tackle any of these projects tomorrow, remember the wise words of Yoda: “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”
Cynthia K. Ritter
Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is managing editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons University.

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Jewell Parker Rhodes

Ah, Star Wars. My kids loved the young star wars books when they were younger (both my daughter and son)! They're like the original Harry Potter story--young kids in a Jedi training academy. Who wouldn't want to be a jedi? My husband STILL does. In terms of literary quality, I like the Lucas books penned by Michael Stackpole... Best, Jewell

Posted : Oct 05, 2012 08:02


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