Tuesday, December 22, 2015

So You Want to Be a Jedi? : an original retelling of Star Wars--the Empire Strikes Back, by Adam Gidwitz (ages 9-12)

Tonight we're having a family movie night, all going to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens and I've had a great few days anticipating this, reading So You Want to Be a Jedi?an original retelling of Star Wars: the Empire Strikes Back, by one of my favorite storytellers Adam Gidwitz (see here for our fantastic author visit). If your kids are excited by the new Star Wars movie and like books full of action, they'll have fun diving head first into this book.
So You Want to Be a Jedi?
an original retelling of Star Wars: the Empire Strikes Back
by Adam Gidwitz
Disney / LucasFilm Press, 2015
preview on Google Books
your local library
ages 9-12
Kids will love this story's action and adventure, even if they already know how it's going to turn out in the end. Gidwitz brings readers right into the story by making the reader step into Luke's shoes--telling it through second-person narration. Here's a glimpse of the great battle on the planet Hoth:
"The rebel fire is doing nothing to slow the snow walkers, which are lumbering inexorably onward, laser blasts bouncing uselessly off their armor.
Your craft approaches the lead snow walker. Another speeder skims the snow just behind you.
Then it explodes. 'They got Rogue Seven!' Dak yells.
You grit your teeth. 'Stay with me, Dak. We're coming in.'" (chapter 9)
At school, we often talk with kids about the movie that runs in their mind as they're reading. We want them to visualize the setting, the action. We want them to connect with the character and feel what the character is feeling. Gidwitz's dramatic writing demonstrates this perfectly.

Gidwitz explains in his author's note that Star Wars can be seen as the reinvention of the classic hero's tale, as a fairy tale for modern times--much as Gidwitz tried to do with his Grimm trilogy. Much like Cinderella, Luke is a character who can be seen as a little bland, without distinguishing characteristics. But this is intentional, Gidwitz points out.
"They are avatars for the reader. They are empty so we can inhabit them, so we can do their deeds, live their lives, and learn their lessons." 
Will my 4th and 5th graders understand this? Perhaps not, but they will certainly think about Luke's heroic journey and what it takes to be a Jedi. And in the meantime, they will love the action and adventure along the way.

So You Want to Be a Jedi? is part of a trilogy of original retellings of the first three Star Wars movies. If your kids like this, you'll also want to seek out The Princess, the Scoundrel and the Farm Boy (a retelling of Star Wars: The New Hope, by Alexandra Bracken), and Beware the Power of the Dark Side! (a retelling of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, by Tom Angleberger).

The review copies were kindly sent by the publishers, Disney / LucasFilm Press, and we have also purchased additional copies for our school library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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