Watching Star Wars

Stack Overflow: ‘Star Wars’ Fever

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Watching Star Wars
Finally watching Star Wars with my kids. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

So, my kids have finally seen the original Star Wars trilogy. I feel a little like the dad in the new Toys ‘R’ Us ad.

This was our second attempt–the first time around, we stalled out in the middle of The Empire Strikes Back and ended up putting it all on hold. But last weekend my kids had a five-day weekend (“Back in my day, we didn’t get three days off for parent-teacher conferences!”) so we decided it was a good opportunity to try again–after all, I wasn’t going to take them to see Episode VII if they hadn’t seen the originals first.

I wrote about the “Machete Order” three years ago (wow, has it been that long?) and we’d considered watching the films in that order–but we were watching them on VHS so I didn’t have to worry about Hayden Christensen inserted into the end of Return of the Jedi and we just watched IV, V, and VI … in the correct order. (Yeah, it was letterboxed instead of widescreen, but we also didn’t have to worry about a screaming Darth Vader.)

Of course, as I expected, there was really no way to prevent my kids (other than my toddler, who watched parts of the films) from knowing about Darth Vader from the start. And of course nobody was fooled by Yoda’s pretending not to be Yoda. But I’m happy to report that there were still some surprises for my kids, things that they didn’t know about ahead of time. Most importantly, we had a fun time watching the movies together.

Now that they’ve seen the films, my kids are devouring all the Star Wars books we’ve had around the house that they’ve sort of ignored up until now–some because I was worried about spoilers, some because they simply didn’t get the references. Many of these have been reviewed on GeekDad in the past, but I figured it may be fun to put a lot of them all in one place.

Images: Chronicle Books

Star Wars Epic Yarns by Jack and Holman Wang

These board books have recreations of iconic scenes from the original trilogy, made from felted figurines. Each scene is accompanied by a single word. The figures are fantastic and the books are adorable–even if they do include the big spoiler. Jenny Bristol wrote these up back in April.

Jeffrey Brown Vader series

Darth Vader and Son by Jeffrey Brown

Jeffrey Brown’s series of comic books have been around for a few years now, first picturing Darth Vader as a single dad to a young Luke and a growing Leia. Goodnight Darth Vader is a rhyming verse featuring characters from all six movies, and Darth Vader and Friends arrived this spring. It’s a very fun, lighthearted take on the Star Wars series, though it certainly helps to know the movies in order to get some of the jokes.

Jedi Academy

Jedi Academy trilogy by Jeffrey Brown

Speaking of Jeffrey Brown, he also wrote a series of middle-grade books called Jedi Academy. These feature mostly-new characters (and Yoda) at, well, a school for Jedi. The books feature lots of drawings and cartoons throughout, and are a fun way to explore the Star Wars universe from a different angle. Oh, and while you’re at it–be sure to listen to Jamie Greene’s podcast interview with Jeffrey Brown.

Origami Yoda series

Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger

And, of course, how could we forget Origami Yoda? We’ve had most of the series sitting on the shelf but I went out and picked up the two we were missing to complete the set. My oldest daughter has already read through the whole series multiple times just since we watched the films, I think, and both of the older girls have been folding things and making doodles based on the books. Full of puns and papercrafting, it’s no wonder these are a huge hit with young Star Wars fans.

Star Wars novels

Star Wars middle-grade novels

I just mentioned these in a Stack Overflow a couple weeks ago, but they’re worth mentioning again. This set of books retells the original trilogy for middle grade readers, and I like the way that it fleshes out some scenes from the movies and gives a little more depth to some of the characters. Bonus: Greedo never fires a shot.

The Adventures of Luke Skywalker

Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight by Tony DiTerlizzi, illustrations by Ralph McQuarrie

This is both a picture book version of the original trilogy for kids and a collection of amazing design illustrations by Ralph McQuarrie. It’s lengthier than standard picture books, with more text than usual. DiTerlizzi gives us the story from Luke’s perspective, showing his journey from farm boy to Jedi knight–and it’s accompanied by some never-before-seen paintings by the late, great Ralph McQuarrie. I interviewed DiTerlizzi last fall when the book was released.

Star Wars Craft Book, Mega Models

The Star Wars Craft Book by Bonnie Burton

Star Wars Mega Models by DK Publishing

If you’re feeling crafty, here are two titles to check out: Bonnie Burton’s Star Wars Craft Book teaches you to make a Jabba the Hutt body pillow, an AT-AT herb garden, and more. My middle daughter has been flipping through this one, looking for her next project. And for the papercrafters, the Star Wars Mega Models has four huge punch-out-and-assemble models.

Star Wars Costumes

Star Wars Costumes by Brandon Alinger

This book is just gorgeous, and if you love the little details about movie costumes, then you’ll love this book. It’s full of both stories and pictures about all of the costumes from the original trilogy. (I mentioned it in this Stack Overflow column.)

Of course, this is just barely scratching the surface–but these are the ones we had sitting around the house that my kids have a newfound appreciation for. I’m just glad they’ve finally experienced the original films, and I’m looking forward to taking the whole family to see The Force Awakens in December!

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3 thoughts on “Stack Overflow: ‘Star Wars’ Fever

  1. Nice set-up especially with the many DVD/VHS tapes (I have many, too) for times when Netflix doesn’t have what you need. I do have one suggestion to help kids on the floor sitting upright: Lower the TV to eye-level for better comfort during movie marathons. Helps the adults on the floor keep their old necks comfy as well.

    1. We set the height of our TV because we needed it to be above the reach of the baby at the time, and at this point I guess we could lower it but then that puts some other things out of reach of even my older kids until they’re taller. I’ll have to figure out if my cords will all reach if I move some of the peripherals above the television…

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