Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown - Book Review
From the publisher: New York Times bestselling author/illustrator Jeffrey Brown takes readers to a middle school in a galaxy far, far away...
This incredible, original story captures all of the humor, awkwardness, fun, and frustrations of middle school--all told through one boy's comics, journal entries, letters, doodles, and newspaper clippings. The setting? A galaxy far, far away...
Roan's one dream is to leave home and attend Pilot Academy like his older brother, father, and grandfather. But just as Roan is mysteriously denied entrance to Pilot School, he is invited to attend Jedi Academy--a school that he didn't apply to and only recruits children when they are just a few years old. That is, until now...
This inventive novel follows Roan's first year at Jedi Academy where, under the tutelage of Master Yoda, he learns that he possesses more strength and potential than he could have ever dreamed. Oh, and he learns other important things too--like how to make a baking soda volcano, fence with a lightsaber, slow dance with a girl, and lift boulders with the Force.
Brown's first two Star Wars books, Darth Vader and Son and Vader's Little Princess, were charming what-if cartoons with Darth Vader in the role of raising his children, Luke and Leia. Jedi Academy, on the other hand, is a much more involved story with an entirely new protagonist, Roan Novachez.
Roan has just finished elementary school on Tatooine and wants nothing more than to move on to Pilot Academy Middle School and become a star fighter pilot like his dad and older brother. Unfortunately he gets denied admittance, crushing his dreams. In a surprise, though, Roan gets accepted to the Jedi Academy, where he will be instructed by Master Yoda, among others. What follows is a fun look at Roan's first year at the academy, where he experiences many of the same things that typical middle school students do. He struggles with being the new kid, has some tough classes, excels at drawing, nearly alienates his friends, and develops his first crush. Along the way, Roan learns that not getting your first dream may lead you to bigger and better dreams, and you may discover your place in the galaxy as well.
Part of the allure of Jedi Academy is Brown's use of varied text techniques. The book is a combination of cartoons of Roan's experiences, Roan's hand-written journal entries, letters from home, and other pictures and assorted papers. The collection feels almost like a scrapbook (maybe yearbook) of Roan's first year rather than a novel or traditional book.
The target audience for this book is 8+ and I would agree. This would be a great book for reluctant readers as well. Finally, I'd recommend it to any Star Wars fan, particularly those who enjoy Jeffrey Brown's humorous and sweet look at Star Wars family life.
I received a preview copy of this book from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review.