Thursday, July 21, 2016

Star Weird: Star Wars Scratch and Sniff

Star Wars tie-in products have always come in different shapes and sizes. Sometimes companies try to create something completely unique to grab the attention of young fans. Occasionally things get a little odd! Here's our first look at such items from the past in a new segment called STAR WEIRD!

The last we'll see of Star Wars Scratch & Sniff?
Back in 1997 the original trilogy (Episodes 4-6) films were being re-released to movie theatres and it was a BIG deal. Fans had kept the galaxy alive over the years, but to the general public, Star Wars had been over since 1983's Return of the Jedi.

Along with the renewed public interest in Star Wars came many related products, including this bizarre kids' book from the "Golden Books" series (at the time not called "Little Golden Books") Star Wars: A More Wretched Hive: The Mos Eisley Cantina (1997). What makes this one so odd? It's a Scratch and Sniff  book!

Yep that's right. You get to SMELL the infamous Mos Eisley Cantina, inside and out!
From 1986

Scratch and Sniff books were a popular novelty in publishing during the 1980's but not very common nowadays. There were earlier titles that incorporated the concept into Star Wars books. A More Wretched Hive appears to be the last one made.

The story, told by Margaret Ryder, is a quick version of Luke and Obi-Wan's first meeting with Han Solo and Chewbacca, then blasting off in the Millennium Falcon. Ryder has fun with emphasizing the gross smells the characters encounter. The book is illustrated with photos specifically from the 1997 "Special Edition" version of Episode 4. However it's the smells that make A More Wretched Hive stand out!

Smell Jabba the Hutt if you dare!
Along the way the reader enjoys the scents of:

- "horrible" smells coming from the Cantina
- "foamy, fruity" drinks served inside
- "the sharp, electrical scent" of Obi-Wan's lightsaber (smells a little like cinnamon)
- Chewbacca's "strong, swampy odor" (smells like patchouli oil)
- Greedo's bad breath "worse than a Sarlacc" (yes, it is!)
- "Jabba's rotten aroma" (did anyone really want to smell this??)
- the Millennium Falcon's "hot starship exhaust"

If you feel the need to join in these delightful smells A More Wretched Hive is often still available online or in used book stores. For good or bad, the 19 year-old smell stickers may not work so well anymore though.

As Jar Jar would say:
Pee- youssa!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Read, You Must: Star Wars ABC-3PO

New from Disney-Lucasfilm Press comes Star Wars ABC-3PO, Galactic Basic Edition, a fun, funny and alphabetical look at the characters and creatures that make up the galaxy far, far away.

Authors Calliope Glass and Caitlin Kennedy have fun with the poetry and the book is wonderfully illustrated by Katie Cook’s cartoon art. (Artist Katie Cook was once a guest on the Star Wars Kidscast podcast). The poems are nicely varied in style, rhythm and length and consistently light in tone.

Each letter has a focused poem (from Admiral Akbar to Zeb) spotlighting characters, starships and moments from Star Wars Rebels and of course most of the Star Wars feature films including The Force Awakens. There’s no inclusion of anything from Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith or even The Clone Wars TV show though.

A few samples of the fun rhymes inside:
From E for Ewoks:
“Ewoks are tricky. They seem fluffy and cute. But if they attack, you might want to scoot.”

From M for Millennium Falcon:
“A bucket of bolts, This hunk of junk, She jostles and jolts, From cockpit to trunk.”

From X for X-Wing:
“A fighting pair, droid and human, Astromech and rebel crewman.”

Some of the humour in ABC-3PO may be lost on casual fans, directly referencing longtime fans’ inside jokes like “It’s A Trap!” and Stormtroopers’ terrible marksmanship. At times it feels like the book is trying too hard to be witty – even the subtitle “Galactic Basic Edition” is never explained and becomes another inside joke and possibly confusing to casual or new fans. (FYI: In Star Wars lingo "Galactic Basic" just means English.)

Also by Calliope Glass
However, if you happen to be a parent AND a serious Star Wars nut like most of the readers of this blog, ABC-3PO is a fun way to reinforce and build on the basics, or to apply what your child is learning already from preschool, kindergarten or workbooks like the wonderful Star Wars Preschool ABC Fun from Workman Publishing.

Also by Katie Cook
Then again, the kids may have to wait until the adults are done enjoying this one! 

(Publisher’s recommendation: Ages 3-5)

Did you know?

There have been other Star Wars alphabet books before including Scholastic’s Star Wars ABC (2010). ABC-3PO has more in common though with the 1984 Read-Along Book Star Wars Adventures in ABC which also contained humourous poems for each alphabetical entry. That book had very silly poems but surprisingly serious-looking artwork inside.

Friday, June 24, 2016

New Look and Feel for Star Wars DK Readers

After creating dozens of Star Wars–themed “readers” (short books geared to a specific reading level), DK Publishing has updated the look and feel of the series with three new releases. 

Each title is still given a particular theme and intended reading level. Each book is full of full-colour images from the Star Wars films and TV shows.

For this batch the focus is on The Force Awakens and Star Wars Rebels. The three newest Star Wars readers are: Star Wars Rebels: Darth Vader, Rebel Hunter (Level 2), The Adventures of BB-8 (Level 2) and Finn’s Mission (Level 3).

As with earlier titles in the series each book comes with a glossary for trickier words and a guide for parents to help use the books to coach their young readers. There are also quizzes in the back to check for comprehension.

What’s new is each title looks a little more fun and exciting. The cover and inside page layouts are much closer to the magazine-style look seen in DK's recent (and fantastic) Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know. There is also a lot more variety from page to page than earlier editions. 

For younglings learning to read and curious about the ins and outs of Star Wars there are many DK Readers still in print at every level. These three new titles make a great new addition to the collection!

Publisher’s Descriptions:

Darth Vader, Rebel Hunter: Learn all about one of the most terrifying figures in the Empire, Darth Vader. Discover how the evil Sith Lord plans to defeat the rebels once and for all. (Level 2)

The Adventures of BB-8:  Follow brave BB-8 as he gets caught up in the battle to save the galaxy. Learn about the heroic Resistance and the sinister First Order. Meet BB-8's new friends, and see them join together to defeat evil! (Level 2)

Finn’s Mission: From the desert wastelands of Jakku to the frozen mountains of the Starkiller, follow Finn as he bravely battles the First Order. Meet the heroes who will help him in his mission, and face the terrifying enemies who will stand in his way. (Level 3)

Also Available

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

LEGO Star Wars: Chronicles of the Force

For LEGO-loving Star Wars fans, LEGO Star Wars: Chronicles of the Force offers a photo-filled, lighthearted look of all things Star Wars. Everything from major character groups (Empire, Rebellion, First Order, bounty hunters, etc.) to vehicles, planets and starships are here.
Chronicles of the Force gives an overview of how and where things fit together in the Star Wars galaxy across 96 pages of full-colour, up-close photos. For collector/builders there's also info about the various sets available.

Written by Star Wars experts Adam Bray and Cole Horton (co-authors of Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know), characters from all SEVEN Star Wars feature films (I love saying that!) plus The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels and more all appear.

The past few years have brought plenty of hilarious LEGO Star Wars on TV (The Yoda Chronicles, Droid Tales, etc.) and in books like LEGO Star Wars In 100 Scenes. This book, while fun and entertaining, is a little closer in tone to the LEGO Star Wars Visual Dictionary with a bit of the humour and look from Absolutely Everything You Need to Know.  

Like many LEGO Star Wars titles, this one also includes an exclusive minifig: “Unkar’s Brute”. 

Unkar's Brute: Not that one...THAT one!
Exclusive Minifig!
To be honest, when I saw this minifig I really wasn’t sure who this was supposed to be despite having seen The Force Awakens, well, a LOT of times. Turns out he represents one of the two thugs that was trying to steal BB-8 from Rey after she refused Unkar’s offer of “60 portions”.

For LEGO fanatics and casual fans alike Chronicles of the Force is a fun way to explore the whole Star Wars saga!

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