Star Wars Bound in Gold

Star Wars Little Golden Books Review

Star Wars Bound in Gold
Little Golden Books Cover Star Wars

—shazbazzar

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Every childhood library must have a section of books with gold-foil binding marking their collection of Little Golden Books. Little Golden Books have been a staple of children’s books for over seventy years with more than one thousand titles published by various authors, artists, and companies. The books are favorites of young readers, as evident from worn away edges of the gold binding from children choosing them over and over again for afternoon or bedtime reading.  Vibrant colors grace every page filled with illustrations that capture young imaginations with stories told with children in mind — whether they are early readers or their parents read the books to them.

Classic Retro Little Golden Books

Several of my favorite Little Golden Books were repeatedly pulled off the hallway shelves throughout my early childhood as well as in the days when my own children were very young. The Lion’s Paw, The Poky Little Puppy, and Tootle were among the most remembered stories of my youth. Familiar stories were told in these books, as well, like classic fairy tales (Jack and the Beanstalk), movies (The Jungle Book and Lady and the Tramp), and even television programs (Buck Rogers and the Children of Hopetown). At long last, my life-long obsession with Star Wars has crossed paths with my memories of Little Golden Books with a collection of ten new titles!

Star Wars: A Little Golden Book Collection

Star Wars: A Little Golden Book CollectionWalking through the aisles at a local store a couple weeks ago, I spotted a display featuring Star Wars: A Little Golden Book Collection. Although my own kids are teenagers, the cover art was so alluring with its contrast of yellows and oranges against purples and blacks that I had to buy the book (not to mention I was getting seven books in one for under ten dollars). The collection includes books from all seven movies from the Star Wars saga, each also published as a Little Golden Book of its own. When I got home and put away the groceries, I immediately sat down to look at the book, thumbing through its gilded pages, admiring the art representing iconic characters from that galaxy far, far away. Illustrations with a modern sensibility fill the pages in a way that both draws the eye and highlights the text. Names and key words are in large, bold print, introducing readers to Star Wars characters and concepts that may be new to young eyes.    Sentences are simple and concise; perfect for young readers. The familiar stories are told in twenty-four page summaries that encapsulate the movies in a way that will entertain children and parents as they read these books together.

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Brilliant! The opening page of this story will have parents laughing at the brief explanation that covers the oft-maligned opening crawl as well as explains the Force in a way that every child can understand. Jar Jar is unapologetically described as “a funny creature”, R2-D2 is called a “brave droid”, and Anakin is introduced as a slave boy who is strong with the Force. The illustrations tell as much of the story as the text as the Jedi Council seem intimidating, the Sith are unmistakably the bad guys, and Anakin is portrayed as the hero with a smile on his face.

The only thing missing in this book is Anakin’s childhood friend Kitster. Maybe another Little Golden Book could chronicle Anakin and Kitster in their adventures on Tatooine.

Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

An action-packed love story! The artwork in this episode is markedly different from The Phantom Menace while maintaining stylistic consistency within the series. Nearly every page is filled with scenes that evoke a feeling of movement that successfully conveys the tone of the movie. Anakin and Padme fall in love and are married, but a dark side to the young Jedi is explicitly described by the hate and anger growing inside him. Readers are told in no uncertain terms that this is not the Jedi way. Mace Windu with the Jedi and Yoda with the clone army are the heroes of the story, allowing for a peaceful ending to this part of the saga.

Interestingly, deaths are alluded to in euphemisms that are gentle enough for young readers to understand in an age appropriate way. Understandably, severed arms and heads warrant neither comment from the author nor representation by the artist. A good choice.

Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

Friends become enemies! The story begins with Anakin and Obi-Wan side-by-side in several pictures, highlighting their friendship, as the tale is told of their heroic exploits in saving Chancellor Palpatine by fighting Count Dooku and General Grievous.  After briefly introducing the news that Anakin and Padmé are expecting a child (and Anakin’s conflicted emotions surrounding this revelation), the escalation of war is highlighted as Jedi lead the clone army in battles across the galaxy. Anakin’s turn to the dark side is explained to young minds by Palpatine’s promise to help the young Jedi save his wife’s life. In just four pages, the heroic Anakin Skywalker becomes the evil Darth Vader and spends the rest of the book fighting and being defeated by his former friend, Obi-Wan Kenobi. However, a promising new hope remains as Owen and Beru Lars look off into the sunset with their infant nephew, Luke Skywalker.

The art is again different in Revenge of the Sith, marking this episode as the darkest yet. The one complaint I have with Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith is that Mace Windu is named the leader of the Jedi Council in both stories when Yoda is unmistakably presented as the head of the Council in the movies. I’m not sure why this change was made for this series of books, but it will be confusing to children who watch the movies and television programs.

Star Wars: A New Hope

Faithful! From the first page to the last, A New Hope captures the feel and appeal of the ’77 movie with stylized illustrations that are true to the original film. Even the opening crawl is changed very little from the iconic words we have had embedded in our memories for decades. The Death Star is a looming threat with Darth Vader as the visible antagonist, signaling danger for the new heroes of the second trilogy. The layout of this story is visually similar to the format of The Phantom Menace, as the pictures help lead readers through the story, alternating from small scenes on pages to two-page spreads in the cantina and trash compactor. No essential element is missing from the story that introduced us to that galaxy far, far away so long ago.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Chilling! From the frozen tundra of Hoth to the fog-ridden darkness of Dagobah to the stillness of the carbon freezing chamber on Bespin, a sense of danger pervades throughout this story. Like Attack of the Clones, nearly every picture shows movement as the story progresses in a rapid pace that will have children anxiously awaiting to see what will happen to their heroes. The text carries the eye from scene to scene in a way that makes this book a real page turner. By the end of the story, children will be compelled to want to read the next book immediately.

Kudos to the artist who ably translates the heart of the characters on screen to images on these pages with Han Solo’s suave smirk to Lando Calrissian’s regretful slump when he sees his friend encased in carbonite. While the layout of the book makes this the quickest read of all seven stories, the pictures demand a look back at every page after the story has been told.

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Balance! The softened style of the artist’s brush (or chalk, as the case may be) looks like it could have been illustrated in 1983. The caricatures are cartoonish and childlike — a suitable perspective for this movie filled with puppet-like aliens and furry Ewoks. From Jabba’s palace on Tatooine, back to Dagobah with Obi-Wan’s force spirit and Yoda, to the Battle of Endor, the story conveys the weight of the battle between good and evil in a way that is encouraging and ultimately uplifting. You can almost hear the chorus of Ewoks singing “Yub Nub” on the last page of the book.

All the significant parts of the movie are covered, even though much more could have been told. The choices in both pictures and text are a testimony to the restraint of the author and artist. I would have loved to have this book when I was a child. I would have looked at it for hours!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Mystery! Old friends are reintroduced in the seventh story of this collection as new heroes and villains find their place in the saga. Every part of this episode feels both new and old as stormtroopers, X-wings, and TIE fighters share the pages with new creatures and villains. While the story itself shares many similarities with the previous trilogy, the illustrations demonstrate (more clearly than even the movie itself) that this is a very different story. Jakku is certainly not Tatooine, Takodana is neither Yavin 4 nor Dagobah, and Starkiller Base is neither Hoth nor the Death Star (though the enviroments share many similarities on screen). The story, like all six stories preceding it, is necessarily condensed, but in a way that remains true to the plot and themes of the film.

Undoubtedly, this was the most difficult of the seven to make, considering no one yet knows what will happen next in the saga. However, unless the reader has seen the movie, the story may be difficult to fully grasp in just twenty-four pages. Because of this, the book ends abruptly, leaving children and their parents wondering what will happen next. We will all wait to see.

This collection is printed on high quality paper with golden edges in a hefty edition that is hard to call “little”. Each of these stories is available for purchase separately in the common size of other Little Golden Books. The gold-foil binding is adorned with images of various Star Wars characters, like other modern Star Wars Little Golden Books, setting them apart from the other titles under the Little Golden Book banner. Whether you choose to collect them individually or in this single edition, these books are a must for parents or grandparents of small children, and would even be a welcome addition to any Star Wars fan’s library.

Star Wars: I Am a Princess

IMG_2503Courtney B. Carbone (author) and Heather Martinez (illustrator), the same team who created The Phantom Menace Little Golden Book, return to explain what being a princess means in the Star Wars universe (and beyond). I Am a Princess is one of the newest additions to the Little Golden Books collection. The illustrations, like those in the movie adaptations, show both familiar scenes as seen on screen as well as looking at the events of the films from a perspective that suits the purpose of the book. While the book focuses mostly on Princess Leia’s pursuits in the original trilogy, both the prequels and the sequel are included in describing the character qualities a princess must possess. In concise language, many ill-conceived stereotypes about princesses in stories are challenged as Leia shows that a princess is not simply a helpless person needing rescuing, but a hero in her own right. Whether it’s her adventurous spirit, her courageous actions in protecting and rescuing others, or her cunning intellect, Leia embodies traits that everyone can respect and seek to emulate.

While some parents may appreciate this book as reaching out to girls who like Star Wars, this book is definitely not limited to a female audience. Boys and girls alike can relate to the bravery and leadership Leia embodies. This book does not address itself to any particular demographic, unless, perhaps, the young. The premise presented in this book can be appreciated by anyone — male or female, young or old — as it promotes positive qualities through Princess Leia’s positive role model.

Star Wars: I Am a Sith

Little Golden BookChristopher Nicholas (author) and Chris Kennett (illustrator) teamed-up to create an imaginative illustrated guide defining what it means to be a Sith. At first glance, I Am a Sith intrigued me because I wondered whether the book might entice younglings towards the dark side. Such fears were immediately dismissed as the first page explicitly states that the Sith are evil. Described as “dark warriors”, Sith and other dark side Force-wielders are shown to be deceptive, manipulative bad guys that no one would want for a friend. All Sith from the movies are present in this Little Golden Book, as well as dark-side warriors from movies and television. The “Rule of Two” is introduced to young readers as well as Darth Vader’s prominence as the most remarkable of Darth Sidious’s apprentices. He is credited with helping establish the Empire as well as heroically eliminating it in his redemption. The only good traits extolled in the book are those which describe the light shining through the darkness.

Adults and children alike will treasure this Little Golden Book for its artistic interpretations of familiar scenes as well as enjoy a concise explanation of the essential elements of Sithiness — fear, anger, hatred, and lies. Children will readily understand the nature of the Master/Apprentice relationship among the Sith as well as recognize that there are other evildoers who call upon the dark side of the Force who are not truly Sith. This “children’s book” ably summarizes and simplifies an intrinsic part of Star Wars lore in a way that everyone can understand.

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Star Wars Little Golden Book

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Star Wars Little Golden BookWith a lengthy title for a longer Little Golden Book, this compilation of illustrations from other Star Wars Little Golden Books uses scenes and storylines from other books to encourage, uplift, admonish, and motivate young readers by adapting themes from the Star Wars saga to provide an impressive collection life-lessons worthy of a Jedi Master summed up in fewer than fifty sentences. None of the artwork gracing the glossy pages of this bonus-sized Little Golden Book is original to this publication, but the presentation promises a new perspective on the saga as a whole. Every book reviewed in this article is represented in this book as well as some books that  I have personally not yet seen (Star Wars: I Am a Pilot, Star Wars: I Am a Droid, Star Wars: I Am a Jedi).

This book would be a welcome addition to top off any Star Wars Little Golden Book collection as it spotlights the artwork on superior paper and breaks the fourth wall by speaking directly to its readers. The ingenuity of author and editor combine to make this book both familiar and unique at the same time.

All in all, these Little Golden Books are appealing to both children and adults, summoning feelings of nostalgia in the latter while instantly implanting fond memories in the former. Special Star Wars iconography adorns the gold foil binding on every book, setting these Little Golden Books apart from their counterparts while still providing continuity on the shelf of any home library. Personally, I am looking forward to finding other titles like Star Wars: I Am a Pilot, Star Wars: I Am a Jedi, and Star Wars: I Am a Droid, as well as hoping for books dealing with pirates and bounty hunters, creatures and aliens, vehicles and technology. These Little Golden Books will make a fine addition to my collection — sure to entertain myself, my kids, and (eventually) my grandkids for years to come!

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