Review: Star Wars Colouring Book

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Review: Star Wars Colouring Book (or, I Tie Dyed The Dead TIE)

Do you colour? I don’t and, aside from the odd occasion where needs must, like attending to my sister’s small humans, I haven’t truly done so since infant school. So of course that makes me perfect for reviewing the Star Wars Colouring Book (The Force Awakens edition) published by Egmont. And do you know what I discovered? My skills have not improved much. Or at all, really. My own mother would be embarrassed to put my ‘art’ on the fridge. Admittedly it’s a fancy fridge, with an ice-cube dispencer, but still. Thus this book brought me low. Quite low indeed.

I’m joking, of course*, but I’m not a colouring person. It’s great if you are, don’t get me wrong, it’s a great, relaxing, almost meditative passtime, and I wouldn’t hold it against you if you like it. But my point is, I’m coming at this from a place of ignorance, so if I get something so wrong that you need to do some colouring in to calm down, I’m sorry.

*Not even slightly. I’m a terrible colourer.

First, the specifics: this book contains 18 pictures of varying difficulty, intended for young humans of not quite drinking age. So, 8, 9? We start our kids off young in England. Younger in Scotland, though admittedly they start attending philosophy classes at 5, so that’s understandable (not condoning underage drinking, of course, merely acknowledging the inherent toll that thinking takes). But getting back on topic, let’s unpack that first sentence, because there’s more caveats than a bear can shake a stick at. Wait, that’s cave. Never mind.

First – or second. Or second first: from what I gather (from someone who is an avid colourer inner), these are quite easy pictures to colour in. However, this is not the impression that I received. As you may know, small humans lack the necessary motor skills to handle the finer detail. These pictures – which are a fairly equal mix of vehicles and characters – have several aspects, particularly about a person, that would make it difficult to be terribly exact when filling in the colours. Some details that are a bit too intricate. Perhaps I’m just being finnicky, but that was my impression. And not just that, but pictures that have a great deal of detail to complete. I recall one in particular: an interior shot of the Millenium Falcon, with Chewbacca and BB-8 inside, that was so packed with bits and pieces that I was quite fatigued upon finishing it.

Although saying that, many pictures do seem fairly simple and easy to complete. The (exterior) vehicle pictures, for example, do maintain a simpleness in colour palette. Though that also begs the question: do you stay to what is canonical? One thing, which is perhaps a negative, is that there’s no reference material with which to draw (figuratively speaking) upon. Perhaps that is intended? Again, my ignorance rears its head. It does mean, were you so intended, that you could get really creative – to such a degree that, were a hippie to somehow travel across time from the height of the 60s and see your picture, even they would say the colouring is a bit too far out. But nevermind what some hypothetical hippie might say, you can have the colours be whatever you like, without feeling obligated to adhere to canon.

And yet, I was one of those people who did feel that obligation, who did want to get it exactly right, which meant I spent a lot of time googling The Force Awakens pictures – through half covered eyes, because I hadn’t seen the film yet, and Google is currently a minefield of spoilers.

I'm sorry, who is Rey's father? Chewbacca?!
I’m sorry, who did you say is Rey’s father? Chewbacca?!

To return to the original point, the pictures themselves are a mix of technicaly detail – which (above grumbling aside) was mostly appreciated, and empty space – which was not. The technicaly detail meant that I didn’t have to do any actual drawing just to make this X-wing or that command shuttle appear exact and complete. The empty space was quite annoying, because with the amount of detail crammed into perhaps half or a third of the page, that empty vastness that was space, or the sand dunes of Jakku or, or, well, more space, the emptiness was just begging to be filled. So there I was, drawing extra TIE fighters and X-wings, or a wampa in an astronaut’s suit floating in space, just to settle that itch. I wonder if this is what George Lucas feels like when he watches the original trilogy. Huh. I’ll never mock that man again.

So that brings us to the second point. Or second second. Or – oh I give up. The age range. The book states no intended range, though at a guess I’d put it at 6-8 years, so keep that in mind should you choose to purchase this.

Let’s talk about the pictures themselves – beyond difficulty. Are they pretty? Is the finished product, if we stick to canon, vibrant? In terms of beauty, I wouldn’t say I was particularly bowled over by them. That said, there was one picture of several X-wings in flight, which was quite evocative for me. But then I must ask the follow up question: are they meant to be pretty? Or are they supposed to be only challenging? Well, the obvious answer is, why can’t they be both? I’m mostly on board with that line of thought, but at the same time, perhaps the point of colouring isn’t so much that the starter image is pretty, but that you yourself make it so through your own activities. You provide the life and the depth to the image by colouring it. If they were pretty enough to begin with, what would be the point? It would hardly be fair to have something be so good that to apply your colouring skills (or lack thereof, in my case) would only diminish it.

So, are they vibrant, striking? Well, yes, and no. These new star destroyers, with their stark whiteness, can hardly be called vibrant. Striking yes, particularly to Jedi, but not so much to the eye. The X-wing, slightly more so, with its black and orange design. So perhaps it’s better to take the ‘choose your own’ aproach. Pick whatever colour you desire. Use the Force, let it guide your actions. And paint the Falcon pink.

Michael Dare

Star Wars Colouring Book, published by Egmont, is out now everywhere. With thanks to Egmont UK for providing a copy for review purposes.

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