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Aug 26 2013

Book Review: “Star Wars: Jedi Academy” By Jeffrey Brown

Star Wars: Jedi AcademyIntroduction

In his previous books “Darth Vader and Son” and “Vader’s Little Princess,” author Jeffrey Brown took those little every day moments that are inherent with being a parent and reflected them through the eye lenses of Darth Vader, showing the reader what it would have been like had Vader raised Luke and Leia. Each page of those books contains a stand-alone comic that is often both heart warming and, depending upon the stage of parenthood of the reader, familiar to real-life experiences that occur with the reader’s own children.

With his new book, “Star Wars: Jedi Academy,” Jeffrey Brown has shifted the appeal from parents to middle-school aged children who are familiar with books like “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” Will it be as successful as his previous books?

Plot Synopsis (courtesy Scholastic.com)

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 Academy, 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.

Review (mild spoilers)

Roan Novachez has just finished primary school on Tatooine. He has his heart set on attending Pilot Academy Middle School like his brother Dav and one day becoming the greatest star pilot in the galaxy. Then, the unthinkable happens: his application to Pilot Academy is denied. As an alternative, it is suggested that Roan instead attend Tatooine Agriculture Academy. As Roan has no interest or talent with plants, this news is devastating.

A short time later, Roan receives another letter in the mail. This time, it is from Principal Mar of the Coruscant Jedi Academy. Roan’s application to Pilot Academy Middle School came to the attention of Master Yoda who has extended an invitation to attend Jedi Academy. While Jedi Academy was not what Roan really wanted to do, he decided that it was better than Agriculture Academy, so he accepted the invitation.

When he first arrives at Jedi Academy, Roan feels out of place. Most of his classmates have been at Jedi Academy since infancy, so Roan has some adjustments to make as the “new kid.”

Told via a variety of sources like comics, journal entries, homework assignments, class notes, bulletin board announcements, the school newspaper, and letters from his family, “Star Wars: Jedi Academy” is the chronicle of Roan’s first year at Jedi Academy. Being entirely hand-written and hand-drawn, it has the feel of a scrapbook that has been assembled by someone in middle school. The result provides a nice change of pace from a standard young-adult novel and should entertain its middle-school-aged target audience.

Final Verdict

As the parent of a young child, I related more with Jeffrey Brown’s previous books “Darth Vader and Son” and “Vader’s Little Princess.” I realize that I am not the target audience for “Star Wars: Jedi Academy.” That said, I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the lighter side of that galaxy far, far away. The combination of humor with a unique story-telling style was enough to keep me engaged in the adventures of Roan and his classmates. Recommended.

DISCLOSURE: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no charge in order to provide an early review. However, this did not affect the overall review content. All opinions are my own..

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