Was Star Wars a book before it was a movie? Yes it was.
Well, kind of. Star Wars, a book by George Lucas, was published in America in 1976. The movie was released in 1977.
But as I’m sure you know, the movie was not based on this book – it was a novelisation of the movie. In fact, it was not even written by Lucas, but ghost written by Alan Dean Foster. He was also the author (credited this time) of the very first Star Wars sequel, Splinter of the Minds Eye.
When I was a child, these novelisations were one of the key ways I engaged with Star Wars movies after seeing them at the cinema. As I look back, it seems amazing that I managed to remain interested in the movies. I’m pretty sure my daughter has seen the original Star Wars trilogy more times at age 5 than I did in my entire childhood. There was no way to watch at home on TV (although there were some 8 minute super-8 film versions for those few who had a projector). We saw the movies at the cinema. That was it.
But that wasn’t enough. So we found other ways to revisit the galaxy far, far away. I played with the toys. I read the comics. And I poured over the novelisations of the movies, which have all been re-published.
Reading them is to remember a time when my fandom was born. The exciting thing about the first book – which I read years after the movie came out – were expanded elements of the story that were ultimately cut like Luke and Biggs friendship and Solo meeting Jabba. Elements of these were reinstated in the special editions.
The Empire Strikes Back novelisation was written by Donald F. Glut, a fellow former film school student like George Lucas. He was a writer who’s credit I saw a few more times in my childhood, on some Spider-Man cartoons and various comics. As these Star Wars books were based on screenplays, and not finished movies, even differences in classic dialogue stands out. For instance, no “I love you,”, “I know.” exchange here, as that was ad-libbed by Ford on set.
Return of the Jedi (by James Kahn) was a book I clearly recall reading before I saw the movie. So, the big revelation of Luke and Leia’s relationship was one I experienced not in the movies, but with my nose in a book at home. This book was also the first time I read how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader – here there is mention of a duel between Obi Wan and Anakin, which ended with Luke’s father falling into lava. My 11-year-old self was pleased that this was later reflected in Revenge of the Sith twenty years later.
These books are now available in a paperback omnibus, and in addition the adaptation of Star Wars has also been re-released in a hardback 40th anniversary edition, featuring the best and most iconic Star Wars poster of all by the Brothers Hillderbrant.
Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope: Official 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition has an RRP of £16.99. Star Wars: Original Trilogyhas an RRP of £12.99.
I was sent copies of these books for the purposes of this review.
How did The First Order rise from the ashes of the Empire? How did Princess Leia become a General? Why did her accent waver from English to American in Star Wars (1977). All these questions and more are answered in Star Wars: Bloodline, the terrific new Princess Leia novel by Claudia Gray.Continue reading Review – Star Wars: Bloodline by Claudia Gray
There are so many great Star Wars books for kids out there that it’s tricky to choose which ones your children will enjoy the most. Well here’s a selection from Egmont Publishing that have gone down well with my 3-year-old daughter (as well as me).
They are a mixture of craft, early readers, and a new retelling of the original movie trilogy – and they’re perfect for keeping us engaged in all things Star Wars until the release of the new movie and beyond.
First up we had a couple of early reading Star wars children’s books – Escape From Darth Vader and Use the Force!
Escape From Darth Vader: A Star Wars Saga Reader (Young Readers Level 1)
Escape From Darth Vader is an illustrated and simply written retelling of the opening scenes of the original Star Wars movie.
This book begins with the Darth Vader’s forces boarding Princess Leia’s ship, and ends with the droids’ escape to Tatooine.
This is rated as Young Readers level 1, so the prose is very basic. For example, even the classic opening line of every Star Wars movie ‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…’ becomes ‘Long ago and far, far away…’.
This pared down text allows children to recognise words easily. While my 3-year-old Star Wars fangirl is at the very beginning of her literacy journey, she can read many of the words in this simply written book – and the likes of R2-D2 and C-3P0 offer another opportunity to connect letters to their sounds.
This Star Wars children’s book also features some really cute art by Stephane Roux. I am especially fond of the illustrations featuring Princess Leia.
Like the other books, it offers a great way for my daughter to engage with Star Wars.
Use the Force!: A Star Wars Saga Reader (Young Readers Level 2)
Use the Force!is a reading level 2 book, so the prose is more advanced and flows better.
This book is a vignette from The Empire Strikes Back, about Luke’s time training to be Jedi with Yoda on Dagobah.
One of the things I really like about this story is that it features – in book form – some of the great lessons the saga has to offer. Yoda’s proclamations of “Size matters not” and “Do or do not. There is no try.” have been important messages I’ve already referenced with my daughter many times, and it’s great to have another format to reinforce them.
Luke’s training is a key part of the wider saga, and it works well as a standalone story. It’s an often requested favourite of my daughter’s.
The Star Wars Treasury: The Original Trilogy
One of the downsides of getting your kid into Star Wars is how often they want to watch the movies.
No really, this is a downside! While I love the fact that she loves the saga like I do, it also means that she wants to rewatch the movies all the time. While this is a) awesome, it would also be b) irresponsible for me to let her watch them as much as she’s like to.
The Star Wars Treasury: The Original Trilogyis a great way for her to engage with these stories that have captivated her. We all know reading to children is vitally important, and she happily sits there for the 1-2 hours it takes to read this 200+ page retelling of episodes IV-VI (believe me, we’ve done it).
Of course it’s easy to break this up into smaller reading sessions. While the stories of each film are here, the narrative has been pared down and has omitted some subplots. The text is more advanced again, but the still fairly simple and full of famous lines. I dare you to read the likes of “I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further” without attempting your best Darth Vader voice.
The art is a curious hybrid of illustrated versions of iconic stills and/or publicity photos from the three movies – so the imagery is both familiar and fresh.
I’m hoping to take my then 4-year-old daughter to see The Force Awakens at the cinema (after I have vetted it of course). This Star Wars kid’s book is a great way to revisit the saga of episodes IV-VI in the lead up to the eagerly awaited episode VII.
Star Wars Starfighter Workshop
The final Star Wars books for kids in this collection is a different than the others, as it is actually a construction set masquerading as a book. The Star Wars Starfighter Workshop allows you to construct your very own card models of the iconic Star Wars vehicles the X-Wing and Tie Fighter.
This is a fun joint activity for a Star Wars loving dad & daughter. Construction projects like this are also great for many skills that we’re trying to encourage such as fine and gross motor skills, following printed instructions, understanding how things are put together, and simple patience.
This particular Star Wars books for kids really took me back to my childhood. I’m old enough to remember when the first movie coming out, and prior to seeing it Star Wars Weekly came out – the first two issues had free gifts of a cardboard X-Wing and Tie Fighter. The ones contained in this book are a vast improvement!
This book also has an activity section, with Star Wars themed puzzles, mazes, and the like, so it still has a lot to offer once the models have been made. The construction material is a fairly sturdy carded foam, and the finished models are solid enough to withstand play that isn’t too vigorous.
While aimed at ages 7+, it was a fine activity to share with my 3-year-old.
4 Great Star Wars Books For Kids – the Star Wars kid’s opinion
While I can write about the best Star Wars books, it’s really the kid’s opinion that counts 😉
All of these Star Wars books for kids are available from Amazon (as well as other retailers).