Monday, August 12, 2013

Jeffrey Brown wonders what Middle School would be like as a Jedi in new book

Cartoonist Jeffrey Brown who recently brought us the books "Star Wars: Darth Vader & Son" and "Star Wars: Vader's Little Princess" has a new book set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away coming out in September 2013.  In Chronicle BooksStar Wars: Jedi Academy, after being turned down for a spot in the Pilot Academy's Middle School program tween aged student Roan Novachez is taken under the wing of Yoda who trains him in the ways of the Jedi instead.

While Brown's Darth Vader & Son and Vader's Little Princess are filled with colorfully illustrated humorous sketches similar in characteristic to Gary Larson's The Far Side work but with Star Wars themes, characters and references; Jedi Academy is a vastly different book from his previous two Star Wars ventures.

Jedi Academy in contrast to the artwork shown above from Darth Vader & Son and Vader's Little Princess is more comparable to the style of Matt Groening's Life in Hell comic strips and books.that he created before coming up with the Simpsons. Jedi Academy is mostly in black and white and sketched out as if it was drawn as a journal personally by the main character Roan Novachez.  The artwork appears sketchy and amateurish but that is the creative goal of the author as he portrays the story as coming from the real journal of a middle school jedi ... somewhat like Diary of a Wimpy Kid meets Star Wars.  There are pages of "hand written" journal entries and copies of school documents (admission letter, report cards) to go along with Novachez's sketches and cartoons.  There are also some "photographs" that were either mailed to Novachez or that he took during his adventures and added to his journal and look more like the work in Brown's previous two Star Wars books and show how the author is intentionally providing drawings in this story meant to provide perspective from a tween's view.  A nice touch to the book was the ending which encourages young readers to create their own journals and provides them with tips to what to include in one.

Jedi Academy would be a great book for kids age 8 - 11 to enjoy.  This book is geared more for children  and I personally really didn't find the book that interesting or enjoyable of a read from an adult perspective.  Fans of Brown's previous Darth Vader books need to know this book takes a very different approach to its artwork and layout than those other two books, which I personally really enjoyed reading both with my kids and by myself.  The cover artwork for Jedi Academy appears similar to the artwork in Brown's Darth Vader books so it is important for people to understand that this is not a sequel book to that series but rather a stand alone book that is completely different. That being said I believe this is a cute fun romp of a story with some nice life lessons for younger readers and any book that encourages an appreciation of reading with kids is a plus for this geeky daddy.  Keep an eye out for Jedi Academy for that young padawan  in your life.

DISCLAIMER:  I received a complimentary digital advance pdf copy of "Jedi Academy" from the publisher. The opinions in this post are my own. I did not receive compensation for this review.

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